Anyone who’s been checking out our recent Dark Knight coverage will be aware that there are already three five star reviews published, everyone has been united over its undisputable greatness and I myself have been running short of superlatives in the messages I’ve sent to friends to try and express how very good it was.
So let’s get this out of the way first – I don’t normally hand out five stars to a film I’ve only seen once, I reserve that accolade for films that have proven to me over the years that I will never tire of them, that they possess something special, which elevates them in my movie obsessed brain to a near spiritual level. But I have to give The Dark Knight five stars. It’s so rare that a film can actually fulfil everything I expect of it, while also being able to exceed expectations and leave me speechless.
Obviously we’re all in favour of geeking out here, so indulge me for a minute. When the film finished I was so shaken by the whole experience that I worried even trying to express what I felt in words, would simply result in a flood of tears and, now a week has passed, the film still haunts my mind. When I got back from the screening at around 1am I actually had to sit for an hour, with a beer and a pack of cigarettes, just to wind down and reflect on everything I’d just seen, which is normally a process I reserve for just after the stress of shooting a short film, a telling sign of how deeply affecting the film was.
What really compelled me to write this article though was the sheer spectacle of seeing it at the IMAX. I’ve had the good fortune to see a few films at the IMAX and every time I walk in, my jaw drops and I’m always compelled to make a statement along the lines of “Oh good God I’d forgotten how big the screen is!” and then laugh at sheer delight I know I’m about to witness. The Dark Knight, as it states on the BFI press release has ‘six sequences filmed with IMAX® cameras (including the opening six minutes). This marks the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras, marking a revolutionary integration of the two film formats.’
Revolutionary is right. When the film starts you become aware that you are watching it on one hell of a screen, even with the letterboxing, then the first IMAX sequence kicks in (and when I say ‘kick’ I mean ‘BOOMS!’) which had such an impact on the full auditorium that the audience all gasped, then broke into cheers and applause. That’s right a British press screening where people clapped and cheered. It will forever mark a turning point in cinema for anyone who is fortunate enough to see it at the IMAX, as to see it anywhere else, in any other format, simply won’t compare. The immersive experience is more akin to being in a simulator, with the opening aerial shot of Gotham City actually inducing a dizzying sense of flying as your brain tries to comprehend the scale of the spectacle.
I wasn’t too sure if the integration of the two different film formats would be distracting, but it was absolutely seamless and only strengthened by the sheer grip the film has, my friend didn’t even notice the change as he was so engrossed in what was happening in the film itself. As you would expect, the six IMAX sequences are the films’ most dramatically epic and action orientated scenes and it’s to Nolan’s credit that everything looks and feels flawless, not once did I ever feel I was watching an impressive visual effect but real events happening to real characters.
Which brings me to another key point raised in our other reviews, if you haven’t done so already, read nothing, watch nothing, go in as blind to what the film contains as is possible in this day and age, I managed to avoid pretty much everything and the film stunned, delighted and shocked me as only very few can. As I said to a random guy on the train, who joined in our Batman Forever vs. Batman and Robin argument; “Just be prepared”.
As I mentioned above I have no qualms whatsoever about handing out a five star rating, in fact if you get to see it at the IMAX you’ll understand when I say that it should actually have a revolutionary sixth star, as any other cinematic experience up to this point simply won’t compare. I’m off to the IMAX again this afternoon (if you publish this on Friday 25th July!) and – in case I haven’t laboured the point – you really should too. Trust Me.
http://www.bfi.org.uk/whatson/bfi_imax(The demand has actually been so high for pre-ordered tickets that the IMAX is now running additional screenings at 2.30am and 5.30am!)
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