The 3rd Dimension
Building on the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark’s re-release last fall, Paramount celebrated the reissue of Top Gun in 3D last week with a run in IMAX 3D. To the 3D aficionado, this presented a unique opportunity – an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. One of the tragedies of home video is the lack of scale in the viewing experience that you get in a theater, which makes it difficult to actually compare the theatrical experience to the home with any real accuracy. Still, with a brand new copy of Top Gun 3D on Blu-ray in one hand and an IMAX 3D ticket in the other, here was an opportunity to compare the 3D viewing experiences, one right after the other.
Top Gun has always been an amazing picture for the big screen, with its epic aerial photography shot ‘real’ as much as humanly possible. Having never seen the movie theatrically before (being 9 at the time the film was originally released), I hoped my first theatrical viewing was going to be AWESOME.
There’s a lot of film enthusiasts out there who have issues whenever a filmmaker makes changes to his films years after the fact. Whether it’s a new director’s cut (Amadeus comes to mind) or revised color timing (Fellowship of the Ring, Terminator, Alien), some fans/purists don’t want any part of it. But for all except the hardest of the hardcore, they’re mostly worried about intent behind the changes. The latest such “scandal” involves Top Gun.
Every once in awhile, people try something crazy and new with cinema. From sound, to ultra-widescreen, Technicolor and 3D, to anamorphic projection, digital surround, digital 3D and even smell-o-vision (currently in Korea only), many of these innovations have been great improvements. Last weekend, the first change in close to a century in the frame rate that commercial cinema is projected in came to light with Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.
High Frame Rate (HFR) projection is supposed to bring a more natural look to film, to smooth out the bumps in pans and vista shots, and to improve the 3D experience by having a lot more frames of information to keep the illusion alive. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve been really skeptical as to whether this would be an improvement and not a hot mess in an epic film like The Hobbit, especially since I saw a piece of the early test footage about six months back. Was I wrong? I hoped so.
Tron Legacy 3D
2010 (2011) - Walt Disney Home Entertainment
The original Tron was a showcase of the latest technologies in animation, film compositing and computer based effects. For the franchise's return nearly 30 years later, Tron Legacy continues this visually innovative tradition. Visually, Tron Legacy stands with Avatar as the best 3D experience money can buy.
Monsters vs. Aliens
2009 (2010) - DreamWorks Animation (Paramount)
Monsters vs. Aliens was the first Blu-ray 3D title available to own, if only packed in with Samsung's 3D glasses starter pack. Still, this disc represents most enthusiasts' very first taste of what the Blu-ray 3D format has to offer.