Question: Is the IMAX Experience Worth It?

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As IMAX technology has become a more popular filmmaking process over the past few years, we’ve tried to keep up with it as much as we can here at /Film.  Just this past week, I wrote about how the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen IMAX experience compares unfavorably with The Dark Knight from last year. I’ve also urged people to see Watchmen in regular format before you check it out in IMAX. On this week’s episode of The Totally Rad Show, /Film friend Dan Trachtenberg opined that the Transformers IMAX experience rendered the action scenes virtually unwatchable. This raised the question for me: With ticket prices already high as they are, is the IMAX experience really worth it?

There is a sense of awe to be had when walking into an IMAX theater, and it still washes over me each time I behold the enormity of the screen. I love the sound and the clarity of the picture, but at too close a distance, I feel like one needs to work too hard to comprehend what’s on the screen. Your eyes need to dart from one side to the other and you occasionally need to crane your neck just to take in the whole image. In my opinion, there are only between 5-10 rows of seats (out of several dozen rows) that really offer a remotely pleasurable viewing experience. In other words, it can be hard work to enjoy the IMAX experience.

That being said, when you have the exact right spot in the theater and the print of the movie is good and the state-of-the-art sound system is firing on all cylinders, it can be absolutely magical. But for 80% of the people in the theater, it may be too much trouble for an experience that doesn’t measure up to a plain old regular theater screen with some good surround. But what do you guys think?

Discuss: In your experience, have you found the IMAX experience worth it? Where do you usually like to sit when you see a film in IMAX, and how does that affect your viewing of the film? What have been some of your favorite/least favorite IMAX experiences in the past?

[Photo by Flickr user Code Martial]

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