The time is swiftly approaching. We will all, soon, be watching The Dark Knight Rises, many of us at midnight screenings tomorrow, some of us at midnight IMAX screenings, and a select few of us at The Dark Knight Trilogy event in IMAX. We’ve all gone to movies before and had to go pee, or gotten some popcorn and a big fat soda – but this is not the time for that. We don’t need to give ourselves the viewing experiences that we need right now, but the ones we deserve. There are a few steps I’ve come up with (that I’ll be employing myself), some of them pretty extreme, to make sure that I have the most complete and attentive experience possible, not just of the midnight release, but of The Dark Knight as well as the IMAX debut of Batman Begins. Let your own dedication be your guide.
With that said, here we go!
1. Know the beginning so you can appreciate the end. If you’re a true Batman fan, watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as often as possible before the trilogy, so that you have the most recent of memories of the film. You’re never going to get that first viewing of those two films back…just accept that you love them, and keep giving them the love they deserve before you view, for the first time, the final end to the epic trilogy that is Nolan’s Batman. The more knowledge you have in your recent memory of the first two films, the less you’ll have to struggle to remember the references made in the final film. You may be watching them just before Rises, but you may still miss stuff if you don’t repeat as often as possible. We’ve all waited all of our lives for a true take on Batman, the truest version of our favorite character, and it’s ending.
2. Catch up on other reference material that will increase your understanding of Rises. Let’s face it: many references have been cited so far that Nolan employed to improve his story and cinematic takes. Rises was heavily influenced through Nolan’s frequent viewings of Blade Runner (as usual), Doctor Zhivago (set aside a few hours for that one, trust me), and Metropolis (the restored version of Metropolis is currently available on Netflix watch instantly at the time of writing this article, but the 1965 version of Doctor Zhivago and Blade Runner are not). If you’re really hardcore, you could even delve into Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, as I have. It’s really not that bad once you get to the end of the second chapter, and was a huge tonal influence on the script. Of course, the previews are pointing us towards revisiting No Man’s Land, Dark Knight Returns, and Knightfall as well, which you’ve probably already got covered.
3. Take off work the 19th and 20th of July. This guarantees the best experience. No worries about time. Also, stay up as late as humanly possible on the 18th, so you may have as much energy on the 19th.
4. Know the theater you’re attending. I’m attending an IMAX theater in a mall, because my girlfriend has trouble sitting through long movie showings, especially with movies she’s seen before. She will be able to go shop if she wants, or get some bourbon chicken from the food court. Had I chosen the lone theater with nothing to do, we’d both be up a creek. Additionally, if you can attend another showing in your theater beforehand to scope things out, do so. Chances are, you’re in a IMAX digital theater, and that theater will be showing The Amazing Spiderman right now. It might be worth a trip to the theater just to get your bearings, figure out where the best seats are, and become familiar with the space (the Nokia trailer also plays before the film).
5. Plan the trip to the theater. This goes without saying: be prepared for the trip, and know how to get to your theater. I don’t know how necessary it will be, but make sure you get there early. I’ll be arriving at around 2 or 3 for the 6 oclock showing so that I get a good seat.
6. No alcohol or spicy foods the day on the 18th. The preparations start early; let’s be honest, you’d better not drink alcohol the evening of Wednesday, July 18th. Alcohol is the easiest way to make you thirsty the entire day of the 19th. Thirst is not something you’ll want to have. Try to drink as much non-alcoholic liquid as you possibly can on the 18th, and pee as little as possible. Get used to holding it. It will be important for making it through the trilogy. If possible, drink a ton, but only pee every 4 or 5 hours. It will be tough, but every minute you add to your endurance, the more you will be able to enjoy the trilogy on the 19th by only peeing during designated breaks between films. Additionally, spicy foods, and their aftermath during the next day, may dehydrate you as well, and you don’t want that to happen.
7. Eat low-calorie, easy-on-the-stomach meals all day on the 18th. Eat a low calorie breakfast shortly after you wake up. Low-calorie is important. Eat something you’re familiar with eating that isn’t hard on your stomach. I eat two Tyson chicken breasts at 110 calories apiece. It’s easy on the stomach, and that’s the key. The goal here is to reduce or eliminate restroom breaks during the films.
8. Lunch and dinner on the go. I suggest sandwiches, prepacked. Any kind of snack counter, food court, or restaurant food is likely to upset the stomach. The idea is to either go equal or lighter to what you normally eat. I have turkey and muenster cheese sandwiches, dry on wheat, because it’s light and healthy. I’m doing that for lunch AND dinner. I may feel hungry at the end of the evening, but it’s worse than having to go to the bathroom in the middle of Rises. And whatever you do, don’t buy sugary snacks, because they’ll give you a sugar rush and then bring you back down, and probably increase your hunger for something salty and more substantial, requiring you to eat again.
9. This will sound strange, but don’t drink water much. Start the morning, around breakfast, with one or two bottles of water. You will definitely pee. But then, drink sodas, or something else you have experience with that keeps you from peeing. NO ENERGY DRINKS, NO ALCOHOL. Energy drink s and alcohol cause incessant peeing, and alcohol will immediately ruin your ability to follow the complex plot of Rises. I would suggest having no drink for Rises. You may drink in the other films, but no more than a half bottle of water per film, because you will pee. If you know your body is more tolerant, then that’s fine. Just know your limitations, and don’t leave a film unless you have to. Between movies, the water fountain at the theater is your friend. Liquid is what you need, but you don’t have to overdo it for the film. If you are able to get your hands on an extra long coffee stirring straw, I’d use that with a small bottle of water in the theater. You won’t get overzealous with the water because of the skinny straw, but will stop when your palette is wet, and that’s what’s important.
10. Bring a bag that can hold items and also mark your seat. You’ll need things to do, a place to keep food and drink, and something to increase your comfort in line. A pillow for your bum might help. Have space for sandwich containers and soda pops or a single bottle of water. The bag may also help you mark your seat between showings. If you’re superextreme, you could even bring one of those bikelock cords, and strap your bag to the seat for those times you will have to go to the restroom. Usually, seatsaving etiquette at these things is pretty good, and comic book people defend one another, but you never know. Make sure you retain your seat the entire night. Also, the heavier your bag, the less likely someone will move it.
11. Bring something to do that will keep you well distracted. Remember, you’ll be there for something like 9 hours. The showings start at 6. That’s 6 hours until Rises. Batman Begins is 2 hours and 20 minutes, and The Dark Knight is 2 hours and 32 minutes. That only adds up to 4 hours and 52 minutes. I have no idea what kind of previews they have planned before each showing, but it can’t bring the total to anything over 5 hours and 10 minutes. That means there’s, at least, a 25 to 30 minute break between each film. I’m going with my lovely girlfriend, so if we have to we can hold each other’s seats, but not everyone will have that luxury. Take things seriously by bringing a backpack of your favorite graphic novels. I would suggest the storylines listed above or Tale of Two Cities because they’re poignant, but you can pick whatever. An additional bonus of having things to do is that you’re less likely to get bored and just use up all of your food and drink reserves out of boredom. When we are bored, we eat. Fight it off.
12. In the theater, wear a dark shirt with a flat (non-glossy) graphic and whatever other clothing is most comfortable to you. This may not seem necessary at first; but I recently went to a movie with a white shirt on, and found the glare off my shirt was somewhat distracting. I even tried wearing a black shirt with a glossy graphic, and the reflection was distracting. Flat paint on plain black is the best shirt for a non-glare experience (truly, no graphic is best, but then how will you represent your batpride?). Make sure you DO NOT WEAR GLOW IN THE DARK SHIRTS. My girl bought me a black Dark Knight Rises shirt with a dark and flat graphic with Bane in the background and Batman in the foreground in the colors of Batman Begins. She found it online and it’s perfect for my uses. The point of all this is to lower light pollution and increase clarity, so choose yours wisely.
13. In terms of other clothing, dress light and temperature-appropriate. I will probably be wearing a nice pair of linen shorts that don’t run too tight, and are comfortable when sitting. Also, I will be wearing sandals that I can take off during the movie to stave off heat. “Mind your surroundings” as well, though; your theater will be packed with people, and the heat may get to you. I prefer cold, cold temperatures so I’m dressing very light. If you know you can’t stand the cold, bring a jacket and maybe even some backup pants. If you wear windbreaker material, though, that’s just as distracting as having a cell phone on.
14. For visibility’s sake, wear glasses, not contacts. If you are like me and have poor vision, wear your glasses instead of your contacts. Unless you have perfect contacts, your eyes will dry eye out terribly if you’re in the dark for 9 hours. At an event for the nerdiest of Batman nerds, your appearance won’t matter that much anyway (beyond wearing a freaking cool Batman shirt), so just don your glasses. Your eyes will thank you, or at least not blur up and become itchy during the climax.
15. Don’t be a douche. Remember, it’s not what you are inside, but what you do that defines you. Talk to the people in line, be considerate. We are not the crowds on Black Friday; we are Batman fans. We all want the same thing.
16. Give yourself the viewing experience you deserve, not the one you need right now. You’ll be watching this movie a few more times over the course of the next couple months. It will be great; we all know it. But you’ll never get back the first time. Follow the actions of your favorite superhero, and be ready for any and every contingency. Be prepared, so you can enjoy it.
Posted by Christopher Nichols