Why IMAX is worth it
By Joel McCarthy, Contributor
There’s no doubt that director Christopher Nolan’s Batman series should be seen on the big screen, but the question is: how big of a screen you should view it on? In the Lower Mainland you have the option to watch this cinematic masterpiece on 35mm film, digital projectors, the new Ultra AVX, or IMAX. All of these formats will give you an enjoyable Dark Knight Rises experience. However, if you consider yourself a true fan of the series, you must watch it the way Nolan intended it to be viewed: in IMAX.
Why is IMAX so great you ask? Well, for starters, IMAX stands for “Image Maximum”—which is quite literally what it sounds like. Each frame on regular film stock is 35mm large, whereas IMAX frame uses a taller 70mm film stock that completely fills your whole field of vision. All of the action scenes and establishing shots in The Dark Knight Rises were composed for a screen that is five stories tall or larger. That means that if you watch the film on a regular projector, you are watching a version of the film that is cropped in half. I was lucky enough to watch the film on IMAX and Ultra AVX comparatively, and I can honestly say that non-IMAX versions of the film suffer big time. Every shot where we got to see full-bodied Bane fight Batman in IMAX turned into a shot of just their upper bodies, and every shot of the Wayne manor was cropped horribly, yet I feel nobody in the audience had a clue of how much content they were actually missing.
[quote style=”boxed”]So if IMAX is so great, then why doesn’t every film shoot on IMAX? First of all, it is ridiculously expensive to shoot: every roll costs about as much as a used car…[/quote]
So if IMAX is so great, then why doesn’t every film shoot on IMAX? First of all, it is ridiculously expensive to shoot: every roll costs about as much as a used car, each roll only provides three minutes of film, each roll takes 20 minutes to replace, and, on top of all that, the camera is so loud that all dialogue needs to be dubbed in post production—the list of setbacks goes on. That being said, Nolan states that IMAX is “the best quality image that has ever been invented,” and after I got to see the Dark Knight Rises on the really big screen, I have to agree. Because of many of all those setbacks, the entire film could not be shot on IMAX, so generally all action scenes and establishing shots fill the IMAX screen and the rest of the film is presented in a 35mm wide format.
That being said, the Dark Knight Rises holds the record for most IMAX footage ever used for a studio narrative feature with a total of 72 minutes of IMAX footage, which is almost half of the movie. In comparison, the last time I saw a film in the IMAX format, it was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, which only contained 10 minutes of IMAX footage in the entire two an a half hour film. I left that theatre bitter and vowed never to spend the extra money again and drive to Langley for a film, but after watching the Dark Knight Rises in IMAX, I now stand corrected, and I encourage all cinephiles, Batman lovers, and film nerds to buck up and drive either to Langley or Richmond to watch The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX, the way it was intended to be viewed!