Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Tall Order.

(Sorry for the Entertainment Weekly/People Magazine-style headline there. I couldn't resist.)

So, I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night, and, as is my bent, I went to my moviegoing screen of choice, the fabulous IMAX theatre. Like the IMAX slogan, when it comes to movies, I like to "think big."

Actually, in addition to the bigger screen and the thumping sound system, the IMAX theatre costs a good two dollars more than the regular theatre, which tends to weed out text-messaging teenagers who are going to the movie strictly to kill time or hang out. They're going to save the extra couple of bucks to get something with ice and whipped cream at Starbucks afterward.

I saw the previous two Harry Potter pictures in the large IMAX format, and it was a treat both times, so I was really anticipating this release in the IMAX format. I diligently watched the teaser trailer months ago, then the full trailer a few weeks ago, and planned on checking out the film on opening weekend, if at all possible.

And then I heard the disastrous news: Warner Brothers was going to release the IMAX version of the movie with the last twenty minutes converted to 3D. They'd done the same thing with Superman Returns, and I heard from different sources that it was a mess. I wasn't thrilled that the studio had dampened my enthusiasm for the picture by forcing me to watch it in 3D if I wanted to watch it on my favorite screen.

Nevertheless, I decided that, if I was going to see 3D for myself, I might as well try it out now. I ventured to the theatre for the 7:45 showing, got there at 7:42, and saw it was sold out. On a Tuesday night. I decided to attend the 10:45 instead.

The movie, by the way, is fantastic. Many critics have said things like "the magic is gone," but that's far from the truth. It's still completely magical, and there's a sequence in this one that I feel is the most delightfully magical of the series. I absolutely loved it--they did a great job adapting the book for the screen and maintaining its deep feel.

But the last twenty minutes of the movie are in 3D, and it was, as I feared, a disaster. I can see the appeal of the 3D technology, because [SPOILER ALERT] seeing the kids riding thestrals, with the thestral head zooming out at the screen at me, was remarkably cool. However, in the picture, the camera does a slow pan past the thestral to rest on Harry, and in a normal setting, the thestral's head would dip out of frame, no big deal. Here, the thestral's head doesn't dip out of frame--it is quite suddenly lopped off, replaced by a thestral neck protruding out of the screen at me in glorious 3D.

Very disorienting.

Sadly, the format is apparently around to stay, as this movie had the highest-grossing opening weekend for an IMAX movie ever. And the climax of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince cries out for the same treatment, so I fear I may have to break my IMAX streak and see that movie in the regular theatre. What have we come to?


Mark Keefer said...

I loved the movie too. I expected not to, 'cause it's the longest book, and how could they dream of fitting in all that story, plus they left our several key book elements from the previous movies... blah, blah...

I do love the movies, but obviously there's no match for the books. I will say however, that this is towards the better of them. It was very true to the book, and that impressed me.

Micah said...

Come on, Adam. You KNOW that you're not going to give up the spectacular viewing quality of IMAX because of 10 minutes of bad 3d. Give it time, it will get better.

Adam said...

Mark: Boy, they lopped a lot of the book right out of the picture, didn't they? And yet, it still all made sense (except they didn't explain the origin of the name of the "D.A.," so when it became a plot point later on, it felt a little forced. Still.

Of course, when it comes to Harry Potter stories that I've been looking forward to this summer, nothing's going to top the anticipation for Deathly Hallows.

Micah: It was 20 minutes. Twenty. Long. Minutes. And the problem is not that the 3D was bad; the 3D was actually really well-executed, but the movies wasn't MADE to be in 3D, so it had all these disorienting cuts and whatnot.

I read that Chris Nolan is toting some IMAX cameras around for the new Batman movie, that he intends to shoot something like four action setpieces with the IMAX film frame. That bodes well. I'll definitely check that out IMAX-style.

Oh, and thanks for stopping by!