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Aural Issues Arise In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ & ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ Sequel

Written by on December 20, 2011 

“What does that mean?” “Rise… I think…”

Having seen both the six-minute prologue and a terrific trailer in less than five days, my hopes for The Dark Knight Rises are at an all-time high. But there is a nagging, legitimate concern — Bane’s voice. It’s been the recurring complaint about an otherwise impressive opening scene, and even his brief dialogue in the preview took a second listen to fully grasp. Now, scrolling back ten seconds on a YouTube cursor is a minor inconvenience; not having a chance to rewind in a movie theater is a whole different matter.

Christopher Nolan doesn’t seem to be among those anxious about hearing Tom Hardy, however. THR tells us that , although one insider is “scared to death” when it comes to “the Bane problem,” and in spite of Warners’ desire for the sound mix to change, he’ll only alter things “slightly.” The main reason? “Chris wants the audience to catch up and participate rather than push everything at them.”

Some conflicting reports are flying in, most notably a mention by Variety’s Josh Dickey that Nolan will “clean up” the sound. No matter who’s right or who’s wrong — if anyone is even either in this situation — it really kind of needs to be fixed. I’m not someone who has a lot of difficulty picking up on sound in movies — I have no problem, actually — and I literally made out two sentences Bane uttered over the course of roughly four minutes of screentime. This could have something to do with the audio at the Lincoln Square IMAX (Aiden Gillen was hard to hear as well), but it’s a widespread issue. I trust and respect Nolan — but that doesn’t excuse the problem.

The issue facing those behind a Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel is probably a bigger one: Will the apes talk? The end of Rise (spoilers for a blockbuster that everyone saw) had Ceasar being able to conjure some basic sentences, but if the follow-up were to jump forward, say, two years, he’d surely be more linguistically developed by then. Something you have to handle, right?

This topic was broached on Jeff Goldsmith‘s Q & A Podcast (via BleedingCool), where scribes Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver addressed it with this quote:

“We’re working on the sequel right now, to the prequel, and so the excitement is – I’m not gonna tell you, but – are they gonna talk or not? Part of the challenge was how to get across what was happening between the apes without words. In the end I think it was a good challenge for us. It created better storytelling.”

One of my favorite parts of Rise was the way in which, with the exception of sign language and bizarre ape subtitles, visual storytelling was used to communicate much of the creature interactions. I’d hate for that to be jettisoned in favor of apes speaking out their emotions; if scenes of humans doing that in Rise didn’t work, would CG animals be any better? It was employed rather well over the course of at least three movies in the original series — they’ve got the template to work with. They just need to make their own choice.

Do you think Nolan will end up changing the audio mix in Rises that greatly? How would you like to see the interactions approached in the Apes sequel?

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