Scott Hardie | November 3, 2002
Yesterday I met Dave Mitzman, Steve Elliser, and Steve's girlfriend's little brother Dominic at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Tampa. The point of the visit was to see "Star Wars: Episode II" on the IMAX screen, but we wandered around the museum for a while afterwards. Like other museums of science and industry I've visited, many of the interactive exhibits didn't work, and of those that did, maybe a third were cool, but a few exhibits managed to be very, very cool. I'd love to take a child there.

Anyway, I've never been all that big of an IMAX fan (pun intended), but after yesterday, I can definitely say that putting normal movies on an IMAX screen is a bad idea. Not only are true IMAX movies filmed in the giant-screen format so that they do take up the whole screen, but the director frames the images properly so that you can easily keep track of what's going on. In the case of "Star Wars," it was just the same rectangular movie image blow up big, with plenty of empty space around it on the giant screen. The sides were warped, so that any straight line (like a glowing light saber) on the side of the screen became a big curve, and the bottom corners became completely cut off. For some reason, the right side was bigger than the left (or less curved), so that Anakin towered over little Obi-Wan in the elevator scene at the beginning. The biggest problem, though, was that "Star Wars," like any other non-IMAX movie, was meant to be viewed from a distance. Imagine viewing it in a normal theater but sitting ten feet from the center of the screen. You can barely tell what the hell's going on in the movie because everything's so gigantic, bigger than your eyes can take in at once, and the movie cuts to another camera angle before your eyes can land on a point of interest. I'm glad I saw it twice before seeing it yesterday, or it would have made no sense whatsoever.

Another change, this one positive, was the removal of twenty minutes of footage from the movie. (IMAX film is huge and the projectors can only hold so much.) What they did was cut out all the scenes of exposition about galactic politics, all the stuff about the Republic, Trade Federation, Jedi Council, Naboo, Coruscant, all that boring shit. The movie flowed a lot better, now being comprised entirely of the action, the romance, and the detective work, aka the fun stuff. Jimmy Smits didn't even open his mouth. Unfortunately, they did cut a couple of romantic scenes, including the triple-waterfall scene (which, duh, would have been one of the best scenes in IMAX). The series would have suffered if those boring exposition scenes had never existed, but "Episode II" as a single film was vastly improved without them.

K. R. | November 5, 2002
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Scott Hardie | November 5, 2002
You know, someone this summer had a strong negative reaction to "Minority Report" because he couldn't accept all of those technological innovations being around in 2054. The final straw was the tree that could animate its own vines. Though it didn't ruin the movie for me, I too was skeptical about all of these scientific advancements happening in the next five decades. And just this past week I thought of the solution... Duh, don't give the date at all. Let the audience think it's whatever year they believe is plausible with all that technology. Dumber movies get away with that trick, so why didn't this one try it?

K. R. | November 8, 2002
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