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‘The Dark Knight’ Delivers Sensory Orgasm in IMAX Prologue Before ‘I Am Legend’

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I went to screen “I Am Legend” on Wednesday to experience “The Dark Knight”.

That statement doesn’t speak grimly about my feelings for Will Smith. I was looking forward to learning his legend and I’m glad I did. The night at Chicago’s Navy Pier IMAX, though, went to its first six minutes with the Joker as the star.

Production still from The Dark Knight prologue in IMAX before I Am Legend
A production still from “The Dark Knight” prologue.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Before I skipped the capacity crowd awaiting entrance into the theater, I stopped to listen to people’s pre-conceived motivations for spending a chilly Wednesday evening at the movies.

People weren’t there because it was free. More important, many people weren’t talking about “I Am Legend”. The buzz king went to Nolan & Co. A few people even went so far as to say they’d consume “The Dark Knight” prologue and skip out immediately thereafter.

I spoke to the publicist running the screening moments before heading in. He was in a panic.

He just got off the phone from New York because “the prologue wasn’t going to show,” he said. At the mere quiet mention of the notion, the few critics who heard it threw their hands in the air in disgust.

I’m paraphrasing, but the publicist immediately retorted: “Don’t worry. It’ll be there now. I made sure of it.” Their nerves were calmed and I now felt vindicated after having to miss last week’s sneak peak of the prologue following yet another “The Dark Knight” viral game.

The Dark Knight

We were first treated to a trailer for “The Spiderwick Chronicles”.

The next trailer – for a film documenting a rock star – was relatively unimpressive and forgettable. Then a sweeping shot of downtown Gotham ushered in “The Dark Knight” prologue and the theater erupted in applause.

You immediately felt the difference between a typical trailer preceding the big event as this prologue is a short film in its own right. Its design is to introduce the Joker as the crazed fiend he is. He’s indeed feared, he’s indeed demented and he indeed delivers on the frenetic hype.

The story leading up to his unmasking deliberately makes his revelation deliciously climatic. You love to hate Heath and feel no remorse loving him all the while.

For this Chicagoan who has been covering the ins and outs of the film as it has taken over our Windy City, the prologue feels much like home. I’d be watching and instantly recall reporting on that courthouse and stepping foot on those very floors when I was beckoned there for jury duty.

A cameo by William Fichtner (“Go,” “Armageddon,” “Contact”) as a Gotham National Bank manager proves even in just a glimpse the power of this cast from roles as big as Heath Ledger as the Joker and Christian Bale as Batman all the way down to this small bank manager who dominates a memorable scene.

William Fichtner in The Perfect Storm
William Fichtner in “The Perfect Storm”.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Director Chris Nolan will be remembered as an innovator who made the premeditated choice to work with director of photography Wally Pfister and IMAX technicians to mark the first time in Hollywood history the larger and heavier IMAX cameras were used to film select sequences.

Rather than succumbing to the quality degradation inherent in converting traditional 35-millimeter film to the largesse of IMAX, Nolan filmed directly using the 60-millimeter, sensually orgasmic format. The wait was worth the remuneration and serves as yet another telltale sign that “The Dark Knight” will be the film of 2008.

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A chilling and effective

A chilling and effective adaptation of a horror classic, I AM LEGEND is also a thought-provoking piece of Hollywood filmmaking.

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