Monday, December 3, 2007

HUGE Dark Knight Prologue Spoilers

Here are two spoiler filled reviews of the first six minutes of the upcoming "The Dark Knight" film, that will play in front of "I Am Legend" on IMAX screens next week. Read at your own risk because it reveals a lot, but it sounds amazing. I simply can't wait to see this film.

Dark Knight' Opening Scenes Reveal 'Radical' New Joker

By Josh Horowitz
NEW YORK — If the opening frames of "The Dark Knight" are any indication, Batman will have his hands full come June. The Joker is on the loose, and MTV News has seen just how devilishly maniacal and dangerous he can be.

On Sunday night, a small crowd in New York gathered to watch the first six minutes of director Christopher Nolan's eagerly awaited sequel to "Batman Begins" and, holy extended trailer, the footage did not disappoint. Introduced by the beaming director and displayed on an 80-foot-tall IMAX screen, the opening of the film welcomed Heath Ledger's Joker to the Nolan/Batman universe.

And it was clear from the start, much as you might have loved Jack Nicholson's villain, the purple-clad bad man won't have the time or inclination to dance to Prince this time around. Nolan spoke at length with MTV News immediately prior to and following the special event, clearly proud of his new villain. "I think what Heath is doing is very adventurous," he said. "What he's doing is very radical. It's very much what I wanted. I knew I needed someone really fearless."

The opening sequence — specially filmed in the IMAX format, and set to debut December 14 with prints of "I Am Legend" in theaters — fulfilled a dream for Nolan, who said he had been wanting to shoot in the format for 15 years. "In the finished film, there will be four or five IMAX sequences," Nolan explained. He continued excitedly before the screening: "Everything about doing this in the IMAX format is trying to get that feeling back when I was a little kid when I'd sit in a movie theater and see images that were larger than life. That's what I'm trying to get back to with this material. I felt like introducing the Joker in this way because he's such a huge character [and it] would be a very fun thing to do."

But Nolan also revealed that not all the IMAX scenes will be action-filled. "Some of them are actually quiet scenes which pictorially we thought would be interesting. It's not all the slam-bam scenes," he said.

As the lights dimmed, the first images were revealed, of a gleaming and bright Gotham City. The camera moves in close on a building when suddenly the calm is shattered, quite literally, by a broken window. A group of clown-mask-clad robbers are about to seize a bank. They bicker about the mysterious man who has employed them. "Why do they call him the Joker?" one asks another. It's a refrain almost identical to those rooftop thugs who wonder about the mysterious "bat" in the opening frames of Tim Burton's "Batman."

Soon we are inside the bank as a tense standoff is under way. None of the employees resist, save one played by character-actor extraordinaire William Fichtner. This is a mob bank, we learn, and the wrong place to mess with, even for a group of seasoned criminals.

The controlled heist degenerates into a mess quickly enough, with each of the robbers mysteriously getting taken out. But it's not Batman knocking them off — rather, it's one of the robbers themselves. Just as the final two robbers are set to leave, one pulls a gun on the other. "I bet the Joker told you to kill me as soon as we loaded the cash," he says, clearly with the upper hand.

The eerily calm but playful response comes. "No, no, no. He killed the bus driver."

Before the gun-toting clown can finish asking, "What bus driver?," he is taken out by a school bus crashing into the bank. "School's out. Time to go!" screams the sole survivor of the gang.

All that remains for him is the bank employee (Fichtner) lying at his feet. By now we're pretty sure these are going to be his last words: "The criminals in this town used to believe in things. Honor. Respect. What do you believe in?" He screams it again, louder, "What do you believe in?"

And the mask comes off. The grinning, scarred face of the Joker is revealed at last. His face filled the 8-story-high screen as the clip played. "I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you ...," he said. He pauses on the last word: " ... stranger."

As the Joker made his getaway, the sequence ended, but before the lights returned, the audience was treated to quick tantalizing flashes of the rest of the film. The Joker firing what looks to be an automatic weapon in a city street. Police Commissioner Gordon raising an ax dramatically. Batman whizzing by in his batpod. And finally, Gordon lowering the ax, destroying what we see now was the bat signal. Troubled times clearly await in Gotham. And it's clear who's to blame.

Nolan explained to MTV News that the Joker we meet in "The Dark Knight" is fully formed. Don't look for an origin story here. "To me, the Joker is an absolute," he said. "There are no shades of gray to him — maybe shades of purple. He's unbelievably dark. He bursts in just as he did in the comics."

Though there was no sign of much of the supporting cast in this extended preview, Nolan stressed there's much more to the story. Asked about Aaron Eckhart's Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, the director said "his story is in some ways the backbone of the film. [Bruce Wayne and Harvey] have an interesting relationship. They're friends and rivals."

And what about the caped crusader we left at the end of "Batman Begins"? Nolan explained that "he's a little more sure of himself" in the new film. "We didn't want him sitting around wrestling with the same angst. It's all-new angst," he laughed.

Nolan, who wrapped filming just two weeks ago, said he's shooting for a running time comparable to the first film's 140 minutes. Congratulated on the ambitious slam-bang start to his sequel, MTV News asked if the next six minutes could help but live up to the first. The director smiled and sighed nearly in unison. "That's what I'm working on now."

First six minutes of new Batman film shown in New York City!

Posted December 3, 2007 9:20 PM

I just saw the Joker.

Tonight, at the Loews IMAX theater on the upper west side of Manhattan, director Chris Nolan debuted the first six minutes of the upcoming “The Dark Knight” movie, a sequel to the Christian Bale-starring, multi-million-dollar-earning “Batman Begins,” to a crowd of about 60 people. Set to swing into theaters July 18, 2008, “Dark Knight” has been hyped for its inclusion of not just one, but two new villains—Two-Face (played by Aaron Eckhart) and the already mentioned, much discussed Joker (played controversially by Heath Ledger).

“I don’t want to bore you,” Nolan joked as he introduced the clip, which will play in select IMAX theaters prior to “I AM Legend” next weekend and was lifted directly from the film. Nolan went on to explain that “Dark Knight” marks the first time a major motion picture utilized the IMAX filming technique.

“I wanted to make the Joker’s introduction a mini film,” added the director. “That’s what this footage is. So we shot it in this higher-quality, more intense format to get across that feeling.” Then, the footage began.

Kicking off with a sweeping shot of downtown Gotham, the camera zooms in above a few buildings before focusing in on a single, traditional skyscraper covered in windows. Suddenly, one window in the skyscraper explodes outward, exposing two criminals inside. Donning clown masks and standing with a rifle, the two criminals shoot a grappling hook across a busy street below to the next building—the Gotham National Bank. The two then slide across using a zip line.

On the street below, a man stands, his face unseen as the shot creeps up from behind, a clown mask slung in his grip. A van suddenly screeches up before he climbs inside and the van hauls off again. Inside, there are now three men, all wearing clown masks. They begin negatively discussing their boss and how he’s sitting out the heist. “The guy thinks he can sit out and get a cut?” laughs one man. “Must be why they call him the Joker!”

Back on the bank’s roof, the two men we first saw now shimmy into the bank’s security wiring while also discussing the boss. “Why do you think they call him Joker?” asks one. “I hear it’s cause he wears make-up,” answers the other. “Like war paint.”

Suddenly, below, the three men blast into the bank, demanding money and commanding everybody to the floor. Back on the roof, the two criminals intercept the out-going emergency alarm set off by an employee. After they cancel its signal, one of the men shoots the other and heads inside for the vault.

Back inside, the clown gunmen hand all the hostages live grenades. “We wouldn’t want your hands free would we?” asks one with a laugh.

At the vault, a clown opens the door, and just then a second clown shoots him in the back. They’re taking each other out so that the cut between them grows higher! And it’s all because the boss, the Joker, has told them to.

Back in the lobby, a bank manager surprisingly begins firing on the clown gunmen with a shotgun hidden under his desk. Turns out this bank belongs to an influential mobster and the manager, fearless and crazed, says as much to the clowns as he walks defiantly at them. He takes one out with a point-blank blast.

Two remain and manage to disarm the manager by shooting him in the arm before one clown turns his gun on the other.

“I’m sure the boss told you to take me out first,” says the one holding the gun. “No,” says the other, his hands in the air as he sways back in forth as if he didn’t care a gun was pointed at his chest. “I called a bus.”

“What?” asks the one holding a gun. And then BOOM, a school bus bursts its back end through the wall of the bank, killing the clown holding the gun! The lumpy driver steps out and asks what’s happened to the gang, just as the clown who’s life he saved shoots him without remorse.

The surviving clown begins to board the bus with bags of money when the bank manager, lying on the floor bleeding, tells the clown he has no idea who he’s messing with and asks why the crooks in this city have no beliefs anymore. The lone clown aborts boarding the bus and instead turns to the manager. The manager asks him dead to his face, “What do you believe in?”

As the clown slowly places a concussion grenade in the manager’s mouth, he removes his mask, exposing his scar-ridden face. It’s the Joker! “I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stronger,” he says before smiling a huge, twisted grin.

The grenade has a string attached to its pin and as the Joker boards the bus, the string goes taut. When he pulls away and the pin comes loose, the manager lays sweating on the floor. Surely his head is about to explode! Instead, the bottom of the grenade emits a gray, harmless gas. It was a joke!

On the street, the bus pulls into traffic along with several others. Before long, sirens can be heard, but by then, the bus is lost in the crowd. The Joker gets away.

Then the footage cuts to several quick clips, including the new Batsuit in a cage, the new Batpod, the Batmobile (aka, the Tumbler), a shot of a fire truck on fire in the streets of Gotham, Batman on a roof overlooking his city and, finally, a clip of Lieutenant Gordon (played by Gary Oldman) using an ax to shatter the Batsignal.
When the lights came up, applause greeted Nolan before he invited everybody to join him in the lobby for cocktails.

Look for the footage to appear before select prints of “I Am Legend” in IMAX starting next weekend. “Hopefully they’ll play up until the movie comes out next summer,” added Nolan, who’s built a bigger, better, more intense corner into his Batman universe. Don’t be a Joker yourselves. Go see it!

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