How big do I want Batman?
June 16, 2005 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm keen to go see the new Batman movie. I'm 'lucky' enough to live somewhere with an Imax cinema. Should I go to see the movie there, or at a normal cinema?

Thing is, I'm really looking forward to this movie, but I've never been to an Imax cinema before. Basically, have you seen a big movie at an Imax cinema, and does it add to or detract from the experience?
posted by ascullion to Media & Arts (28 answers total)
the IMAX screen is HUGE! Therefore the experience will be far more immersive than in a smaller cinema.

I hear it's a good film. Why not see it in IMAX, and if you enjoyed the film then there's your excuse to see it a second time - in a 'normal' cinema :)
posted by seawallrunner at 1:14 PM on June 16, 2005

The South Bank IMAX cinema is awesome. I've seen tons of films there. The screen is, as seawallrunner says, HUGE! The seats are steeply tiered so you're guaranteed to have a fantastic view.

The main problem is that it's addictive. Once you see a film there, in all its glory, ordinary cinemas lose a little of their sparkle.

I didn't realise they were showing the new Batman flick. I'll be going.
posted by veedubya at 1:24 PM on June 16, 2005

Make sure you're seeing it in the correct aspect ratio. IIRC some IMAX presentations of normal movies are pan-and-scanned down to 4:3.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:25 PM on June 16, 2005

Just to be a rotten ol' naysayer: I hate IMAX, it makes me nauseated. It's like sitting in the front row x10.

I would recommend seeing something else--something made for IMAX, before potentially spoiling a much-anticipated film. When directing for IMAX, directors usually don't use closeups, and take advantage of the larger format to present more information. A film made for a standard screen doesn't use these and other IMAX conventions, so you're not really seeing it as the director intended.
posted by frykitty at 1:31 PM on June 16, 2005

A caution: If you get motion sickness, you should probably skip the IMAX experience. It can make people nausious, especially those senstive to movement or percieved movement.
posted by geeky at 1:33 PM on June 16, 2005

Note that there is a maximum running time of two hours for IMAX, so they'll have to cut about 20 minutes of Batman Begins.
posted by kindall at 1:35 PM on June 16, 2005

Response by poster: Nice heads-up, Kindall, didn't think of that. Apparently it's 140 in normal cinemas, 134 in Imax. I guess that could be down to different frame rates, though.
posted by ascullion at 1:40 PM on June 16, 2005

re: made for IMAX

Most movies that have a simultaneous IMAX / standard theater release are made for IMAX. They undergo a separate post-production so they can receive all the benfits of higher resolution video and audio. It's not just the standard film zoomed in with the volume turned up.
posted by pmbuko at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2005

I can't find it now but there was a post on the IMDB board for the film where someone was complaining about the IMAX screening he saw. I didn't catch the details.

My suggestion, regardless of where you see it: bring a good book. It's a snoozefest.

Oh, here's the post.
posted by dobbs at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2005

Count me as another vote against IMAX.

I prefer to sit in the middle third of the theatre, ideally in the middle fifth. To put this in perspective, my idea of "best seat" in a theatre is the one you sit in, put your head against the rest and you don't have to "look around" to see the whole screen. If I have to move my head, I'm too close.

IMAX theatres have their vertically centered seats at what feels like the front 25% of a regular theatre. To sit far enough away to feel comfortable, I have to sit to high above the midpoint of the screen. An IMAX theatre _always_ makes me feel like there must be a "better seat" somewhere else.

Locally, so YMMV, our IMAX theatres feel the need to crank the volume up to rock-concert levels. Distortion-and-Clipping-loud. Spoken-conversations-cause-pain loud. This guarantees that any IMAX show in my city is not worth the money.
posted by Crosius at 2:29 PM on June 16, 2005

I loves me a big screen, but something that really strains my eyes with watching normal films on IMAX is that on a screen that big, the low frame rate of feature films (24 fps), which is barely high enough to work in a smaller theatre, just fails utterly. When something is moving rapidly across the screen, and your eyes try to track it, but can't because of the frame rate and motion blur, it can be kind of weird in a smaller theatre, but isn't a problem and I don't really notice it often, but on IMAX, it seems that watching a person moving onscreen (fight sequence), my eyes go nuts trying to resolve details that just aren't there (but would be in real life). Everything moving jumps across the screen in massively blurry hops due to the 24 fps.

So I suggest viewing it in both a regular and IMAX theatre.
Question is, which one first?
GIven that the IMAX is missing some minutes, maybe IMAX first, though normally I'd suggest second.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:36 PM on June 16, 2005

Do you really have to ask? This movie is all about wild, immersive scenes. Go IMAX.
posted by caddis at 2:47 PM on June 16, 2005

I went to go see The Matrix Re-somethinged (whichever the second film was) in an IMAX theater, and didn't think much of the experience.

The IMAX screen is just _too_ big for an action film. There's no way to see enough of the screen to really keep track of what's going on (admittedly, a problem often compounded by the trendy-choppy editing of most recent action flicks), and when things really get moving, it really is enough to induce motion sickness (and I rarely get motion sickness when I'm actually in motion, let alone sitting still).

Add me to the "nay" column (though YMMV, of course).
posted by djwudi at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice - I was concerned someone might say this was a stupid question.. but those are exactly the sorts of concerns I had. I'm going to go to a normal cinema, but if the movie's any good, I'll go Imax to see what it's like.

Much appreciated.
posted by ascullion at 3:25 PM on June 16, 2005

Now you've got the right idea.

See it in a normal cinema - albeit a big screen cinema (the biggest in London are Odeon Marble Arch, Curzon Mayfair and then I guess the Empire Leicester Square and Odeon West End (in Leicester Square.)

My experiences of Hollywood movies transferred to the Imax format have been bad - they weren't originally shot in Imax, hence they don't look or feel right. (Normal Imax films, however, are ace... I strongly recommend Cyberworld 3D and Everest... Aliens of the Deep and Titanic are OK, Haunted Castle is okay for a laugh.)

Once you've seen Batman Returns in a normal cinema, if you're desperate to see it again, then you can go Imax.
posted by skylar at 4:10 PM on June 16, 2005

Another vote for normal movies on IMAX making one sick.

Got a nice heavy-duty headache from watching Spiderman 2 on IMAX. But it was worth it. :-D
posted by shepd at 4:10 PM on June 16, 2005

At Paramount in Toronto the Imax has huge long rows of seats that are a little closer together than the traditional screen rooms, I find this very claustrophobic when it is busy.

I don't know anything about this time limit... I saw one of the Lord of the Rings chapters in the Imax at Paramount, and it was way longer than 2 hours!

The sound is much better in the Imax. It actually sounds like they bothered to try, which you simply can't say for most theatres (not loud, good!).
posted by Chuckles at 5:00 PM on June 16, 2005

Batman Begins has a lot of what I call "Shakey Action Cam", so I imagine it will only make the naseau associated with IMAX screens worse. That said, I watched Return of the King on an IMAX, and it was a wonderful exerience. I was almost crying during the closing credits.
posted by muddgirl at 5:01 PM on June 16, 2005

Although I thought Batman Begins was a 9/10 movie, chopping out 6 minutes of it probably would have made it a 10 for me. While it does contain quite a bit of action, the art design would look great on Imax.
posted by mischief at 5:02 PM on June 16, 2005

I want to actually see everything, but see it big. With IMAX you can't see shit, as it saturates your retinas to the very edge and beyond. That's cool for dinosaurs and pirates, not for Batman!!
posted by basicchannel at 5:50 PM on June 16, 2005

I'm also in the no-IMAX camp. I feel that unless the movie was specifically shot and designed FOR IMAX, it's just a gimmick to sell higher-cost tickets.

I live a few blocks from San Francisco's Metreon, and have seen a few IMAX movies there, but only after I've seen them on a regular screen. (Polar Express in 3D on an IMAX was almost too much to process.) I've never been more impressed with an IMAX version of the film versus the traditional version.

And the thing about editing the running length of the movie is a deal-breaker for me. Although I did hear they cut down The Phantom Menance to get it under the 2 hour mark for IMAX, and it made it a better film :)
posted by robbie01 at 6:03 PM on June 16, 2005

For those wondering the time limit is due to reel length. I believe anything longer than 2 hours is going to require a reel that wont fit the projector. Or, more likely, the maximum amount of film the projectors autofeeding system can hold would be 2 hours (over multiple reels).

Perhaps for the longer movies they have a short intermission while they change the big-ass reels of film?
posted by shepd at 6:16 PM on June 16, 2005

Ahh.. I think Imax at Paramount shows 70mm prints sometimes, they wouldn't suffer the reel length issue. The image quality probably suffers a bit, but most of the movies aren't shot for Imax anyway.

I wouldn't pay for the Imax either, if it costs more.
posted by Chuckles at 6:23 PM on June 16, 2005

Nice heads-up, Kindall, didn't think of that. Apparently it's 140 in normal cinemas, 134 in Imax.

Actually I found a Web site afterward that claims they got bigger reels that can hold up to 150 minutes, which makes the 6 minutes of cuts even more baffling.
posted by kindall at 9:01 PM on June 16, 2005

I know Phantom Menace was greatly improved in the Imax format, because they cut out a lot of the crap dialogue and kept the action. However, the pores were quite overwhelming during closeups of the human actors.
posted by teg at 10:46 PM on June 16, 2005

I remember seeing Fantasia 2000 at an IMAX and it was fantastic. But IIRC that movie wasn't really a "widescreen" movie and fit more with the IMAX's TV-esqe dimensions.

If they actually crop or pan and scan a movie like Batman Begins then that's just criminal.
posted by zardoz at 1:07 AM on June 17, 2005

I saw Matrix Revolutions in an IMAX cinema and, whilst it was cool the screen was so big I found myself moving my eyes a lot to scan the screen for the action. As such, it was quite a tiring experience.

Additionally, if they've cut 20 minutes then I won't be going near the IMAX. If I pay to see the film, I expect to see all of it.
posted by ralawrence at 5:56 AM on June 17, 2005

Wher are you guys getting this information that it was cut? I saw it in IMAX at midnight on Tuesday, and loved it. I sat in the last row, dead center, and just thought it looked amazing. I know that they used to cut the IMAX versions, but can't find anything on the web that says they cut anything out of this one.
posted by andrewzipp at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2005

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