27th Apr2009

gotchoo IMAX TICKET!?

by jerad.formby

I’m not just a Star Trek nerd, I’m a film nerd.

Filmmaking is an acceptable art in our modern culture. Film language has a long, documented, and examined tradition that comes with whole pantheons of “film masters”, “film hacks”, and “bags of tricks.”

When film was first introduced, the technology was impressive.

It was as impressive as “making copies” was when the Xerox machine was introduced. It was a cool idea, but was it an actual art form? The mass public disagreed. It’s taken decades of critical essays, experiments from wide varieties of different filmmakers, articulate film reviews, and generations living with movies to knock back the general public’s rather snide view of a trivial invention called “the movie camera.”


In its struggle to gain its own footing, film ran up against its first adversary over sixty years ago. It ran into television. Now the general public of those days had moving pictures right in their living room, so why would they want to go to a movie at all?

Hollywood scrambled to give them reasons to see a movie. Just like it scrambles now to get our backsides in chairs.


It’s a butt load worse for Hollywood these days, because right now, a lot of us have invested in home theater tech that is on par with a lot of movie theaters, plus there’s no crowds, no inconsiderate strangers, and the concessions are cheaper. With the internet slowing down (or speeding up) how we engage others socially, it’s pretty easy to see that a home theater is tons more attractive than a movie theater.

So how does Hollywood try and get you out of your home and in line for a movie? By rehashing their approach in the 1950’s.


Back in the day, the first trick they tried was ‘cinemascope.’ They treated the general public to Technicolor and a giant rectangle that would engage the audience in an all-encompassing, all-engrossing, all-spectacular experience that a TV could not provide. By capitalizing on making the presentation tons “bigger” they hoped to sell more tickets.

Another technology that emerged was known as the 3-D movie. They had technology that would leap out of the screen at you and that technology wasn’t going to work in your home. The early 3-D and its early evolution (or lack of evolution) relegated itself to films that involved monsters or something scary. 3-D was an obvious enhancement to films with that sort of content.

Lucasfilm developed sound technology in the 1980s to improve how movies were heard. They pushed for multiple speakers in a theater and created multiple soundtracks on film prints to enhance the movie going experience. When that tech was new, THX technicians had to come into a theater and certify it.


All of these approaches to film presentation were designed to get people out of the house and into a movie theater.

One day, movies that were shot and presented to be gigantic found themselves on television. In order for these images to fit, the sides of its rectangular presentation were hacked off in order to fill the tiny tv screen with an image. The first attempt to give a theatrical presentation at home was given to us by Woody Allen.

He pushed for and got his movie Manhattan released as a “letterbox” presentation on VHS home video. He wanted his great big rectangular presentation to be available in people’s homes. The result was a number of angry customers who believed there was something “wrong” with their rented Woody Allen movie. They didn’t understand why so much of their television screen wasn’t being utilized.


By “shrinking” his giant film, Allen was able to show the entire rectangle from the movie screen on your TV at home. This innovation would not be embraced until DVD technology emerged in the 1990s. “Widescreen” and “Letterbox” are home video’s way of preserving the almighty rectangle that was supposed to get you into the movies in the first place.

Now you have DVDs at home that feature the rectangle. Now you have great big rectangular televisions. Now you can buy THX certified sound equipment for your home. Now you can buy Howard the Duck as a THX certified DVD (that’s a lie). Now you have even less of a reason to go out.

Hollywood’s hype machine demands all of its money for a new release in its opening weekend. That’s how they determine how much money they can stand to make, so they ensure that most of us are hungry for a movie in its first few days. That works alright, but to get even more money, they’re trying some new (old) tricks.

Making a movie bigger (IMAX).

3-D. (Yeah it’s back and the technology is loads better).


Most blockbusters these days have IMAX showings. IMAX is HUGE and loads LOUDER than normal movie presentations –and a must for so many avid movie fans. Maybe I’ve been going to the wrong IMAX theaters, but I’ve not been overly impressed with the look of most IMAX films. Sure it’s bigger, but the film print betrays more of its flaws to my nerdy face.

I stopped making IMAX a priority when ALIEN did an IMAX tour in 2003, since it was only “all right.” Around that same time, Star Wars was getting an IMAX treatment and so were the (shudder) Matrix sequels. It cracked me up that the really big, really true MUSEUM STYLE IMAX theaters actually hacked the sides off of the Matrix’s rectangle to make the movie fit the giant square that IMAX is –felt like reverse widescreen.

So it hasn’t mattered to me that a movie has an IMAX presentation for a long time. Blowing up a film to IMAX doesn’t impress me. I don’t even care to see Star Trek in IMAX. There’s only one reason I would.

It would have to be shot in Imax. The technology does exist for a film to be made for IMAX absolutely. But it’s not easy, nor is it economical. The truth is that an IMAX camera is sooo loud while its running that it’s near impossible to record dialogue on set. The camera is so huge and unweildly that moving the camera around can slow a film’s production down immensely, but the IMAX resolution would be married to the film’s format.

Now that I’ve put all of that up, I want you to embrace the thought of last summer’s THE DARK KNIGHT. The movie featured five sequences that were actually shot in IMAX. That was spectacular and that definitely got my hard earned coin for sheer novelty and awesomeness.


I treat the new 3-D the same way. I will scramble to see a 3-D movie in a theater because these movies are made for a 3-D theater. I’m excited for the innovation, the novelty, and the sheer fun factor of it.

I believe in seeing films the way they were intended and for me Star Trek is intended to be a popcorn eating any digital theater will do movie –not an IMAX movie. Hollywood wants me to go IMAX. J.J. Abrams just wants me to not wait for video. So I giggle at the “SEE IT IN IMAX” Trek ads, because it’s not IMAX –it’s the Alien tour all-over again.


Shot in Imax, Shot in 3-D –these are evolutions in film language and indeed, film as an art form.

But they’re not employed with all releases. So IMAX is not necessary for Star Trek. Don’t talk to me about the sound quality either. Is it really all that!? Like fifteen bucks all that!? I’d rather hear the last Radiohead album in IMAX.

What is necessary, and I ask this of all of you, is that you bring a non-Trek friend with you. Bring one person that doesn’t know it. And for god’s sake man, don’t badger them with a bunch of history and antics from the cannon of Star Trek. Discuss it as a movie.

Another Hey Star Trek! challenge for you: bring a boo-hooer. Bring with you a Star Trek fan who is so frozen in a time causality loop that he will never ever like it, no matter what. Bring a fan who will watch with his arms folded as he sucks in on his front teeth. Let me know how long it takes him to melt. I encourage each of you to post your stories under Hey Star Trek! at the Trekcast forums.


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  • Raul4510

    That was great! I’m bring my wife to the movie and she knows nothing about Star Trek. After seeing the trailer her comment was: “Those guys look just like the originals.” I am so excited about taking her, hopefully she won’t hate me when it’s over like she did after Star Wars Episode III.

  • http://twitter.com/super_spock jerad.formby

    @ Raul4510

    I doubt very much that this movie will be showcasing a pregnant lady who is relegated to a non-active roll and pushed around for the entire film before she ultimately dies of a broken heart after giving her to her child. Excuse me, children, after having TWO CHILDREN this chick dies of a broken heart!? Howard the Duck, we need you!

  • zancho

    well, she had lost the will to live. i mean, once you lose the will to live it’s just all over right? the only reason i’m breathing today is because of my will to live! sheer will is all it takes to continue living! i have no sympathy for crash victims, they simply did not posses the will to continue living. broken body be damned! the will to live will keep you going past all health issues! that’s why i still smoke, i have not lost my will to live…
    flippin padme….
    Also, the toxic remix is my favorite brittany song.

  • Des

    Great to see someone else in agreement.
    I also have no desire to see Star Trek in an Imax theatre.
    For the exact reason you mentioned, it’s not shot in Imax.

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