Trailer Watch: The Dark Knight Rises, Tron Uprising

A viral campaign that sent fans into the streets tracking down clues has led to the early unveiling of the third and final trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, and it’s pretty glorious.

That Nolan can credibly offer such a grand, spine-tingling trailer for a superhero flick is a testament to how The Dark Knight changed our perception of what the genre was capable of. Some may watch this and find it pretentious and high-falutin’, and I can’t entirely dispute that, especially with a final gag that significantly undermines the mythic tone. But whatever your stance on superhero films, you must admit it’s refreshing that big-budget blockbusters that are intelligent, operatic, and stirring can still squeeze through the Hollywood sausage factory on occasion. This is a beautiful and evocative trailer.

I’ll admit that seeing Catwoman and Batman in their masks does jar somewhat with the visual poetry earlier in the trailer, and even the sophistication of The Dark Knight couldn’t entirely distract from the relative absurdity of a guy in a batsuit interrogating an anarchist clown. What counted with that film is that the experience lingered. The Dark Knight was a truly intense ride and nothing ultimately undermined that. By the end, you were exhausted, and not in spite of the superheroic elements. The urban mythology of Batman and the archetypes he embodies are key to the film’s subconscious power.

Consequently, what Nolan has to get right in the new film is the script. He’s already proven that he can put superheroes in a grounded milieu with sufficient credibility to produce an excellent and even unsettling film.

Another huge plus is that the trailer still gives us precious little idea of the plot. A few extra nuggets are offered, such as the prominence of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, who somehow knows Bruce. He’s playing a cop named John Blake, a name that means virtually nothing in the comics. Similarly, Marion Cotillard is playing the no-name Miranda Tate. It’s virtually guaranteed that they’re playing established characters, but Nolan isn’t giving us an inch from which to make assumptions.

There’s actually more mystery about the plot of this film than its predecessor. We had no reason to assume that The Dark Knight was anything more than a straightforward Batman vs Joker narrative with Harvey Dent complicating things. But the Rises promotion is throwing in so many disparate elements that it’s hard to know how they’ll cohere. And that’s without the Begins elements that the actors have discussed but that remain unseen in the trailers.

I dearly hope that we learn nothing more before the film comes out; I want to walk into this cold. Prometheus apparently revealed too much in its latest international trailer, and there are confirmed spoilers circulating about the story of the Star Trek sequel today, which Ain’t It Cool carelessly put in their headline. (Sadly, my respect for that film has reduced dramatically for its sheer lack of imagination, even though the execution may well prove me wrong.)

So please Warners, don’t blow the Dark Knight Rises surprises. Don’t release a ton of clips as Disney did for The Avengers. You already have us on the hook, so let us discover your story in the cinema instead of stumbling on spoilers in more thoughtless news stories.

Damn, this looks pretty impressive. Back when Disney were expecting Tron Legacy to be a massive hit, they greenlit an animated series to connect the two films. With Legacy underperforming, I wondered if the cartoon would see the light of day. But it’s coming this June and the animation looks quite spectacular.

Tron Uprising will air on Disney XD and will no doubt be kid-friendly, but there’s a scope and intensity to this trailer that suggests it may play just as well for adults. Not in the charming, nostalgic fashion of the DC animated universe, but an absorbing entertainment that just happens to be animated.

I enjoyed Legacy and found it visually stunning, but the script and narrative weren’t terribly inspired. I doubt many care too much about what happened during Clu’s rise to power, but if it’s the impetus for a sophisticated animated series, then who cares? Animation that plays well for adults is shamefully rare in the west, so any project like this is worth some cautious optimism.

Granted, the script has to match the show’s visual sophistication. History suggests that the narrative will most likely be formulaic and the dialogue painfully obvious, but what if it’s not? For animation this gorgeous, I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt. Plus, it’s a 10-episode mini-series. That may have been a consequence of Legacy failing to set the world on fire, but then again a prequel has a finite lifespan anyway. Perhaps a short run was always planned, and that’s how they scored a relatively famous voice cast, including Elijah Wood, Lance Henriksen, Mandy Moore, and Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner. (Jeff Bridges is presumably absent unless Disney are keeping his involvement secret, so Clu and Flynn likely are too, which may strain the narrative if we never see the key revolutionary.)

And a short run may be why this thing looks so visually rich and dynamic. How great was that swooping aerial shot? This thing should look dynamite on Blu-ray. I’ll look forward to checking out the reviews and seeing if my enthusiasm was entirely foolhardy.

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