Apollo 13 in IMAX (2002)
Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
person goes to see a movie in a theatre today, the film that is projected is 35mm—that is the film itself is
35 millimeters wide. Apollo 13, made
some years ago, was filmed in 35mm, which has been the standard film gauge for 100 years.
why it is such a big deal that Apollo 13 is now playing in IMAX theatres, it is
necessary to say something about IMAX. Most people are familiar with the IMAX
format-- short travelogue-type films projected on a gigantic flat movie screen which is ten to twelve stories high. But not everyone knows just exactly what the IMAX process is.
To put it
simply, IMAX uses large-format film which has a film-image- area on each frame that is much, much larger than 35mm film. This is why IMAX film can be projected
on such a massive screen-- the film frame is so large to begin with--that it still looks great when blown up to gigantic proportions.
the larger film is so expensive, IMAX films tend to be short—usually 30 minutes or so instead of feature length.
feature movies can be projected on an IMAX screen. But the problem is that projecting
the relatively small 35mm film frame on such a huge and massive screen washes out the image and gives a very grainy, blurred
and washed-out picture. So IMAX theatres tended to only show IMAX films. Think
of how neat it might be, Hollywood people mused, to see to see the right Hollywood epic live-action feature film on the impressive
IMAX screen in true IMAX.
This is where
Apollo 13 enters the picture. IMAX
has just developed a revolutionary and expensive new transfer process—a special process called DMR or digital re-mastering. The DMR process allows the IMAX corporation
to take a Hollywood film, like Apollo 13, and carefully transfer it frame by frame onto IMAX
film while removing film grain and enhancing and sharpening the image, the color, and the sound. This amazing new transfer process has now been applied to Apollo
Does Apollo 13 work in IMAX? I am happy to say that it does—and
I went into the theatre skeptically expecting just another gimmick. To be sure,
Apollo 13 is a bit larger than life on that huge screen. I needed to sit near the back of the theatre. But the picture
is indeed sharp and crisp; the color is gorgeous and the sound is terrific. When
the camera swoops over a large building where the Apollo spacecraft is being assembled, you get that dizzying and thrilling
IMAX effect which is so familiar from the shorter IMAX films. But the drama of
Apollo 13 works as well and the emotional wallop of this exciting and tense story
comes through fully. The word is: go see Apollo
13 in IMAX. It is a dramatic and exciting experience of an extremely fine