STAR TREK Going IMAX, Is This Just A Fad?

It looks as if J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot is going where no Trek film has gone before- IMAX screens.

According to a report over at First Showing, the film will only have a two week engagement on IMAX screens before having to make way for the release of the IMAX version of Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian. Trek is scheduled for a May 8, 2009 premier and Museum 2 is scheduled for May 22.

In addition to Trek and Museum 2, there are at least two other films – Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen – that will also be presented in IMAX in the coming year.

I have to wonder if IMAX is in danger of becoming a gimmick, if it hasn’t already. Does blowing up the films to the larger IMAX screen size really add anything to the storytelling? More than likely not. Sure the footage in The Dark Knight that was shot specifically for IMAX looked amazing. Seeing Superman Returns in the IMAX format allowed them to present a few sequences in 3D, which also looked great. Half-Blood Prince will also sport about 20 minutes of 3D footage, while Transformers director Michael Bay shot a few sequences of Transformers with the larger negative size IMAX cameras. But besides giving the audience some visceral thrills, does utilizing IMAX actually contribute to the telling of the film’s story?

A parallel can be drawn to the 3D craze back in the mid-1950s. At that time some 50 feature films and numerous shorts and cartoons were produced in the format. They featured all manner of things being shot out at the audiences from arrows to paddle balls to gorillas. The Three Stooges threw cake and sprayed water at theater patrons across America, Casper the Friendly Ghost traveled to the moon and dancers in Kiss Me Kate swung on ropes over audiences’ heads.

But there was only one director who downplayed the sensational aspect of 3D in favor of using it as a way of bringing storypoints to the audience’s attention. That was Alfred Hitchcock in his film Dial ‘M’ For Murder. If you ever have the chance to see the film in 3D, do so. Pay attention to how Hitchcock composes his shots in 3D, placing certain objects in the foreground and background. It is subtle work and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t seen the film in 2D previously.

Is there a director who can find a similar way to utilize the IMAX screen in a similar fashion? I would hope so, just to keep the format from becoming some type of ballyhoo gimmick that the public will quickly tire of.

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About Rich Drees 7193 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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