In my never ending search for interesting movies to cover for YOU, THE MOVIE MAGAZINE AUDIENCE, I recently journeyed to Paramount's Bay Area themepark, Great America, to see their selection of IMAX films. IMAX movies are a revolutionary concept that's been around for several years, basically involving film stock that is three times larger than standard 70mm film. What that means is you see a huge movie projected onto a huge screen over five stories high! The result is a movie experience unlike any other.
Now all of this is just fine and dandy, but if the movies available aren't worth watching, then why bother? Luckily, the series currently running is worth a look, both as pure entertainment, and as a really up close and personal look at some rock music icons that probably shouldn't be looked at this closely.
"The Rolling Stones At the Max" takes you right into the crowd and right up on stage with the ultimate geezer rock band on their "Steel Wheels" tour of a few years ago. If you're not into the Stones, or if you're disturbed by a pair of lips the size of a Lincoln Continental, you probably wouldn't want to see Mick and the boys in IMAX format. However, speaking as a Stones fan from way back, the concert that's featured is terrific. The Stones are probably the only fifty-plus band that can still pull the grind off, and what can one say about Mick Jagger, except that if you don't find him entertaining, you're probably dead. The film is very interesting in that it's as close as one can get to being at a concert without actually being there. The camera takes you all over the stadium, switching you from a concert goers' perspective in the back of the floor, to a hard-core pit fighter's view, to up on stage, where Mick struts, pyrotechnics explode, and Keith Richards and Ron Wood look almost ghastly.
But, there are other IMAX films that are actually more entertaining. "Fires of Kuwait" is a look at the international effort to put out over six hundred oil fires after the Gulf War, and the whole movie has an other worldly quality to it, with firefighters struggling to contain fires that are billowing out so much smoke that the sun is blotted out for hundreds of miles. Also inspirational is "Destiny in Space" a loving look at the history of the Space Shuttle program that uses the IMAX camera to its fullest potential. The launches are spectacular, and the views of the Earth from orbit are the ultimate special effect, as the astronauts space walk and complete tasks like fix the Hubble Space Telescope.
All of this probably sounds like a "love letter to IMAX", but give credit where credit is due. The perspective that results from seeing one of these movies is unlike any other, making a trip to your local themepark more than the sickening jolt that results from the more "creative" rides. Now, if I can just get that picture of Keith Richards coming at me with his death stare out of my head!
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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