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Friday, March 31, 2006

"Batman Begins IMAX"

Batman Begins
It's been a long time since I've been to the Singapore Science Centre, yet alone its companion Omni-Theatre. I think the last time I was there, I was in primary school, or more than 15 years ago...

But I was back there last night, though not to visit any scientific exhibitions. Sure, there was "The Art of Star Wars" going on, but I'd procrastinated on it to the point where I didn't want to go to it. In the dark of the night, coupled with my long absence and the newly renovated entrance, I felt lost finding my way to the ticketing counter.

And bought my ticket for "Batman Begins"!

My first ever IMAX fiction movie. Sure, I'd seen other IMAX films before, but those were the scientific documentaries. This was my first time watching a Hollywood film in IMAX. It cost me $12 (with free no-expiry one-time admission to the Science Centre), but I thought it was good money for a good movie. Besides, I'd also be supporting the Science Centre, so I racked up some karma points too.

I had a couple of minutes to kill before the movie started, so I watched some kids play in the outdoors water park (water must be cheap in water-scarce Singapore), then read some posters on the origins of the Earth and life.

I felt lost again as I entered the Omni-Theatre. There was the ticketing counter, as I remembered, but no signs to the hall entrance. Fortunately, my memory had not failed me in remembering that it's behind the counter. In the entrance, on one wall hung the posters of previous IMAX movies, including one for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast".

I entered the hall and, since it was free seating, settled on a seat in the middle of the hall. Big mistake. Given the size of the screen, the best seats are actually in the last three rows. So just before the movie started, I quickly changed seats.

BTW the seats don't seem to have been changed since the Omni-Theatre opened (how many years ago was that?).

The movie itself was exactly as I had remembered it. It was still shown in 16:9 format, instead of warped to fill the domed screen. If the fight scenes were disorienting in the original format, they were dizzyingly more so in IMAX. I tried to follow the punches and kicks and throws, but it was a strain on my eyes. Christopher Nolan just isn't a fight director.

I also thought it'd be cool to see Batman soar or the Batmobile jump at me in IMAX. Alas, those were not to be.

From this experience, I've learned that there is nothing really special about movies in IMAX format. You get a slightly larger picture and the sound may be better. But they don't make full use of IMAX, i.e. the huge screen.

Or maybe I'm over-generalising. The "Apollo 13" trailer did fill the whole screen. It's quite a treat to see rocket engines flare to life at that magnification.

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