August 26, 2012

The Bathouse

We took in a noon matinee of The Dark Knight Rises today. In short, it was a great movie.

We saw it in the IMAX format, which made the film doubly great with its size and resolution. The wall in front of us was filled with image that we enjoyed from dead-center, eye-level seats.

Arriving at the theater before it opened helped with grabbing those seats. Waiting until the film had largely played out its run helped, too.

Christian Bale, one of my favorite actors, well-reprised his role as The Batman; Michael Caine’s masterful acting stole many of his one-on-one scenes with Bale as Alfred; and the stunning Anne Hathaway made for a sexy, feline cat burglar (nee Cat Woman).

There are great things ahead for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, too. He played a cop in this outing, maybe a superhero soon, but you might remember him from Christopher Nolan’s last film, Inception.

The Dark Knight Rises is a thoughtful, contemporary story that ties together the two previous Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies, includes tight, fast action, and surprises with significant plot twists toward the end. It’s a terrific adventure, one I’m looking forward to re-watching at least a couple of times to dig out details I know I missed.

At two hours, forty minutes we got our money’s worth. If you have the opportunity to catch a weekday matinee of this film, you should.

As good as it was, though, I’d say the best of the three Christian Bale Batman films was the second, if only because of Heath Ledger’s Joker. This film’s villain, Bane, came up short by comparison.

Not that the Bane character didn’t move along the plot. The character was an intriguing part of a major plot twist. Yet Ledger’s final role will remain the greatest Joker of all time, more captivating than Jack Nicholson’s and as iconic as Cesar Romero’s, and that ain’t bad.

One aspect marred the outing. We don’t go out to the movies very often; I think the last film I saw at a theater was the second (unwatchable) Matrix sequel. Something has changed in popular film presentation since then. We were assaulted by the ungodly loud audio track that went with the feature and trailers today.

I don’t know how or why avid movie-goers put up with the near-painful onslaught of noise in today’s theater presentations.

Surround sound enhances the viewing by bathing the viewer in complementary audio from all angles, but today’s audio was so over-the-top LOUD that I wanted to yell “turn that shit down” (and “get off my lawn”) before the trailers had finished. The main feature’s dialog was too muddy to understand all of Bane’s lines.

I didn’t like it, and it’ll probably prevent me from viewing that other greatly anticipated movie, Skyfall, in a theater this year.

Not long ago, watching movies at home detracted from the experience. The screen was small, image resolution was low, and the audio was tinny. Today’s home theater setups have changed all that. Watching a good movie at home is a pleasure now.

Even in the era of wide-screen TVs, though, little compares to a professional theater screen, let alone an IMAX screen. I’d like to say today’s big screen lured me back to the movie house, but after our experience I can honestly say I enjoyed re-watching the previous two Christian Bale Batman flicks at home last month more than sitting in the big room today. And that’s a shame.