The Dark Knight Rises
was one of the year’s most anticipated releases and Warner Bros. ensured that no one could miss the fact that it was being released with a variety of TV spots, linked-in promotional campaigns with Mountain Dew, and a fistful of posters. The reaction since release has been mixed. Some loved the film as a whole; others felt it was a fitting finale, while some were left disappointed. As one of the underwhelmed, it must be asked how much to blame the Hollywood hype machine is?
Filming of The Dark Knight began in May 2011 and was scheduled to finish in November. However, shortly after the first shot was recorded for use and editing at a later date, the film’s official website
was launched. The initial website featured the distinctive chant as part of an audio file which needed decryption. Once the file was decrypted, the hashtag #TheFireRises
was revealed. From there, whenever a person tweeted using this hashtag an additional pixel was uncovered until the striking image of Bane appeared in all his intimidating glory.
There is no doubting the effectiveness and purpose of this initial campaign. The detective work on the part of the audience was novel, although sadly missing from the film’s end product, and a hashtag with a purpose serves as a perfect call-to-action. With a character as distinctive as Bane, especially considering his history and reputation from the comic book world, you know you are onto a winner. People will talk, tweet and comment to their heart’s content.
Sadly, an effective campaign makes it significantly more difficult for those who want to avoid information regarding an upcoming release. While this initial foray was successful, it was still possible to avoid. However, the onslaught of TV spots and trailers attached to every big-name release over the course of the following months. There were approximately 17 different TV spots released. Short of wearing blinkers and sound-proof headphones everytime someone went near a screen for fear of seeing a trailer, there was very little that people could do to avoid some of the, admittedly impressive, trailers.
That in itself is one of the issues. The first trailer was simply too good. You see the calm before the storm as the national anthem rings out in the stadium and then Bane unleashes chaos. A stadium collapses around the players before the city and connecting bridges are brought to the ground. “Impressive” is an understatement. Where do you go from there? How can you top that? The fact of the matter is that you can’t and The Dark Knight Rises didn’t. The set pieces that have stood out to fans who comment on message boards and social networks were the stadium blowing up, the city blowing up and the cops charge at the inmates. While they were impressive, although the inmates’ inability to hit a barn door despite being the most heavily armed group in the world was baffling, they were on show everywhere for months. There’s only so many times you can watch a scene before it becomes mundane and the stadium scene suffered as a result.
The most disappointing aspect of The Dark Knight Rises was that it was rather forgettable. The main stand-out moments, one notable fight with Bane aside, were covered in the trailers. Think of it this way: if you go to a comedy and the only moments you are laughing at were featured in the trailer, you would be disappointed. While The Dark Knight Rises was not a straight-up action film, it painted itself in that light with its trailers. There was more to the film, but some of those complaints have been discussed at length
by now. The Dark Knight Rises may have been a fitting conclusion to the Christopher Nolan
trilogy, but as a spectacle it fell flat and the Hollywood hype machine must bear the brunt of the blame for that.