Entering the theater, I did not have the buzz I normally do. I say this not to unnerve the reader, or suggest a sense of dread: I had every confidence that Nolan, Bale and crew would deliver a satisfying end to one of the best trilogies of my lifetime, including Batman Begins, as good as origin stories get, and The Dark Knight, the best action/super hero movie ever made. I say it only to clarify how much of a blank slate I felt sitting down, nonchalantly gleeful, ready to be awed. I’d avoided trailer for the better part of the year, had shelved Jonathan Lethem’s ROLLING STONE for later.
I’d also forgotten the whole deal about Bane’s voice (a few months ago some footage was released featuring new villain Bane…there was backlash about his voice, people calling it hard to understand—which makes sense, considering the huge metal apparatus covering his mouth). People demanded the audio be fixed, Nolan said no way.
I was forcibly reminded of the debate a few seconds into the film (minor SPOILERS): TDKR opens in a plane. A few prisoners are surrounded by armed soldiers. The plane door is opened, its very noisy, shouting, wind, gunfire. And then suddenly something even louder happens—except, no, it’s not louder. The audio track it’s recorded on is louder. It’s only a voice.
I can only assume what was done to Tom Hardy’s audio track was either a moody Nolan lashing out at critics, or the work of a partially deaf audio intern.
Bane’s voice is, like I said, loud. The levels are all wrong. It’s not that he’s yelling, or that the volume implies a sense of greatness or overpowering strength, it’s simply the mix is too high. Bane’s fighting, Bane’s looking away, Bane’s using a microphone or on TV—and Bane’s voice is always the same. Like with cheap animation, you just know the words are not actually part of on-screen Gotham—a city Nolan has gone to considerable pains creating—but part of a recording session in some LA sound booth.
And it gets worse. If Heath Ledger’s joker had been turned up a little I don’t think anyone would have said a word. I don’t know if Hardy had to come back and redo lines, but the performance is…well, Hardy’s not exactly killing it. His admittedly Bond-villain throwback might have played downright sinister in Burton’s Gotham, but in 2012 it’s a considerable step back in the “sadistic” department when compared to even Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow. The accent flips from German to Austrian to cartoonish hybrids of various European provinces, wistfully fluting and theatrically booming…Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery is called to mind.
Hardy is a capable actor, charismatic enough to handle comedy and drama, and obviously went to impressive lengths to get his body in shape for the role. Sohere’s where the real dilemma arises…maybe Hardy’s performance worked better in the original cut of the film, maybe he based his entire delivery around how those first days of feedback sounded.
Well here it is. The sound quality on this comparison is low but you can definitely hear the difference, and it’s possible the lines were straight up rerecorded. Fish around for the original trailer/6-minute teaser, then go see THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in theaters. Despite Bane’s voice, it’s a solid film and a fitting end to Nolan’s Batman legacy.
TDKR marks the end of the blockbuster season, though there are still some upcoming releases to look forward to. PARAORMAN looks especially delightful, and some interesting indie flicks are still floating around (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, TO ROME WITH LOVE, RUBY SPARKS).
It was announced today that Donald Faison will play a villain in the upcoming Kick Ass sequel. The first Kick Ass was a nice surprise and Faison is a terrific comedic actor.