This article is a follow-up to my previously written article SHOULD YOU SEE THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IN IMAX? This is not a review of the film (one can be found here) but more of a review of the presentation. It is highly recommended that you read the previous article this is in reference to.
I previously wrote an article earlier this week about if you should see The Dark Knight Rises in 70mm IMAX or not. It is a push that Warner Brothers is doing to honor Christopher Nolan’s desire to open up the opportunity to bring film in cinemas again as well as celebrate is accomplishments with the franchise as this is his last Batman film. When I wrote that article which was part film projection education and part concern/awareness of what this sudden shift in format might do, I hadn’t seen the film yet. Now, I have seen The Dark Knight Rises in 70mm IMAX and wanted to follow up with everyone on my thoughts about the experience.
There is no doubt that regardless if you see this in 70mm film IMAX or Digital IMAX that you will notice the difference or resolution between the scenes shot in 35mm and the scenes shot with IMAX cameras. However, as stated in the original article, 70mm IMAX film presentations will open themselves up to more opportunities for error. Think of it this way, a film projection of a movie whether it is IMAX or just regular 35mm is more of a manual process that has many components that result in the end presentation as opposed to a digital projection, which still does have some manual process (mainly the bulb brightness and possible focus), that has far less.
The 70mm IMAX presentation of The Dark Knight Rises that I previewed was prone to dust and it showed on screen. There were many moments where we would see a hair or a piece of dust that would slowly creep across the screen. IMAX film projection is held to a higher standard than regular 35mm projection, not only because the size and magnification of the film in the format but mainly because the IMAX film format calls for immaculate maintenance and upkeep.
Another issue that everyone noticed at my screening, which could just be because of the newly re-installed equipment, is that the center sound channel which is mainly used for dialogue seemed to be drowned out or not at the same level of the surround channels. I was sitting almost dead center in the auditorium as well, so the sound should have been pretty balanced. While I believe the sound issue was due to the theater’s presentation and shouldn’t be represented by the film itself, time will tell if that is the case.
I would still recommend going to see the 70mm IMAX film presentation but for a majority of you that have got used to a digital presentation’s clarity, you might remember why you didn’t like film.
I plan on seeing the film again. This time, I might give a Digital IMAX presentation a try and I will come back to this post and edit it if I see a huge change.
Update – July 20th, 2012
I have now seen the film in digital IMAX and while I’m a lover of film, the digital presentation seems the way to go. If you have an IMAX theater that consistently shows film format then by all means, go to it! However, for the theaters that installed new or old equipment in order to facilitate the 15/70 IMAX film format, you may have some issues. I viewed the 15/70 IMAX film format at Ronnie’s and I felt that it was a very mediocre presentation. The film didn’t have a precise focus and the center channel was so muddled that dialogue during heavy action sequences including Zimmer’s score made some of the dialogue inaudible. Also, I have been informed that no trailers are included in in the 15/70mm IMAX film format and are only included on digital presentations. Digital shows the ultimate clarity and seems to have the best soundtrack. For anyone that complains about the 35mm sequences not looking as sharp, they are kind of correct. Those 35mm cameras have a different depth of field and IMAX is like shooting in HD compared to film because of a higher resolution.