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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Son's First Movie Theater Experience... at the IMAX Theater

I first heard of IMAX, I think, in the mid-90s and, after seeing it being featured on some TV programs a couple of times and saw some videos that were made for/by IMAX (though not necessarily in an IMAX theater), I became a fan.

I never thought it’d come to the Philippines... but it did... thanks to San Miguel Brewery, Coca-Cola, and the SM Mall of Asia (where it is located).

I have been wanting to get the IMAX experience since it opened... but it wasn’t only until last Saturday the we were able to go there. Unfortunately, still, we weren’t able to get the TRUE IMAX experience.

My son is addicted to Madagascar (which he calls Madascar) and I thought it would be great to take him to see Madagascar 2 for his first big screen experience. And to make the experience really special for him (well, that's just my excuse), we decided to watch it at the IMAX theater.

Then, an unexpected but pleasant thing happened. My wife’s eldest sister arrived from the province last Friday and offered to pay for the tickets (which cost 300 pesos each) when we went there the following day. Woohoo!

At the ticket booth, we were informed that the movie is in “2D”. And, being someone who expected to see a gargantuan screen and an exceptional sound system, it didn’t matter to me. I just wondered, if the screen was as big as I thought it was (which, as I saw on TV, were parabolic and go beyond a person’s peripheral vision), wouldn’t I get dizzy watching the movie? Moreover, wouldn’t there be any visible distortion in the images?

While I was thinking that, my companions (i.e., my wife and her sister) were wondering why we were not given any goggles. *GULP*

Going into the theater and climbing up the stairs to our seats, I was saying quietly to myself “Is this it?” for I saw a relatively flat screen and a pretty small theater.

When we were already seated, my wife asked me the dreaded question “hindi pala 3D ito?” (“So, this isn’t in 3D?”) And, like anyone who’s in denial, I told her “Sabi sa ticket booth diba 2D lang daw? Pero, sa laki niyan, siguro magmumukhang 3D na rin yan.” (“Isn’t it that the lady at the ticketing booth told us that this is in 2D? But then again, with a screen that size, I think that’s enough to make it look 3D.”) I suppose she didn’t hear the ticket lady say that the movie was in 2D.

Well, I have finally come into terms with my denials… and I’m starting to feel somewhat disappointed about it also. The screen wasn’t that big at all (nowhere near what I expected to see). And the theater, as I’ve said, was also pretty small. It’s just that the seats were arranged in a very steep slope and in quite a short distance from the screen that made it appear to be quite large.

But, then again, I was probably expecting too much as a quick search on Wikipedia told me that that particular theater has one of the largest IMAX screens and the parabolic screens are (I believe) an entirely different story.

Anyway, immediately after my wife asked me that dreaded question, the countdown started. And, it was breathtaking! The picture quality was really awesome! And, even if the screen didn’t cover my peripheral vision (falling short by a few feet), the flying and twisting and turning numbers seemed to fly out of the screen.

Well, I think it looked that way as I was forcing myself to see it that way that time. And, still pretty much in denial, I said to my wife, “O, diba?!” (“What did I just tell you?”)

Then the movie started.

The picture quality was really something (there’s no denial in that). And being a sucker for the technical side of things, I was having quite the time of my life as I marveled at how clear and vibrant the picture was. And deeper into the movie, I started to forget about my disappointments.

Until the movie ended that is. My son enjoyed the movie a lot, by the way, as he had his eyes fixed on the screen for the entire duration of the movie and didn’t even once venture into doing other things.

As we were exiting the theater, my wife whispered to me that her sister was very much disappointed by it. She further said that her sister went with us only because she was expecting to see moving pictures come alive (literally). And so… my world fell apart… crushed… trampled upon. I lost all the goodness I felt about our IMAX experience.

I felt very guilty thinking that my wife’s sister was probably thinking that she’s just been had… gipped… duped… swindled… ripped off… by me.

Still in denial… and in an attempt to make things alright for everyone, I explained to my wife that, usually, full-length features such as the one we saw only have a few selected scenes rendered in 3D anyway, and that full 3D features are just 20 to 30 minutes long… to which my wife just said “ang daya naman…” (“what a rip-off”).

But deep inside, I thought “she came here for the goggles if that hasn’t sunk in to you yet! It’s time you make like an ostrich and hide your head in the ground!”

Now, I’m too depressed to write about the movie… sigh…


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