Transformers 2: The IMAX Experience

Published 5 years ago by

transformers 2 optimus prime swords Transformers 2: The IMAX Experience

[NOTE: This is not a review. For Screen Rant's review of Transformers 2, go here.]

I’ve just come back from seeing Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen at my local IMAX theater, and so in addition to our official review I thought I’d take a minute to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of  opting to see Transformers 2 in IMAX.

Be warned: This post contains HEAVY SPOILERS about the film.

TECH TALK

Revenge of The Fallen has several sequences that were shot using IMAX cameras, much like certain sequences of The Dark Knight. For non-tech geeks: most movies shown in IMAX are regular prints that have been stretched (so to speak) to fit the IMAX screen. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that these “stretched” prints usually only fill about 2/3 of the IMAX screen.

Sequences shot using IMAX cameras, on the other hand, fill the entire IMAX screen (that’s a 5 to 6-story-high picture!) and offer an unmatched level of HD detail and quality. If you are watching a movie like Revenge of The Fallen or The Dark Knight, which use both standard cameras and IMAX cameras, the difference between regular sequences and “true IMAX” sequences is readily discernible: All of a sudden the picture gets very, very big, and very, very pretty.

THE GOOD

Like I said, sequences shot in “true IMAX” are extremely gorgeous to look at. In Transformers 2 this is especially true: the “forest fight” between Optimus Prime and a handful of Decepticons is the longest IMAX sequence in the film and was BY FAR the best. A lot of peoples’ biggest criticism of Michael Bay’s Transfomers films (besides the “stupid humor”) has been “shoddy camera work” during such battle sequences. Well, once those same people see the “forest fight” or Devastator’s impressively massive (if not brief) desert rampage sequence, they’re going to have to pipe down. You see EVERYTHING – every detail and movement of every single robot – and it all looks GORGEOUS. I’m not surprised that getting all that IMAX CGI rendered made a few hard drives explode.

For the “true IMAX” sequences alone I would recommend people go out and see Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen in IMAX – even though there are only two of them and only one of those two (the forest fight) is 100% true IMAX.

THE BAD

When movies shot with regular cameras are “stretched” for an IMAX screen, the bigger picture size usually comes at the expense of picture quality. This was severely noticeable for me while watching Transfomers 2; sequences shot with standard cameras that looked crystal-clear and sharp in the HD TV spots I watched from my living room couch, where anything but up on the IMAX screen. Talk about frustrating! The worst case of this had to be the Sideswipe chase sequence at the opening of the film – something I was very much looking forward to but admittedly was let down by, due to the reduced quality of the “stretched” print…

transformers 2 devastator wideshot Transformers 2: The IMAX Experience

THE UGLY

…Which brings me to the ugly truth: The one thing I can say for certain after watching Transfomers: Revenge of The Fallen in IMAX, is that in order for a film like this to be TRULY realized and appreciated, it needs to ALL be shot in true IMAX. Having had a taste of full-scale 5-story robots duking it out, I can’t go back; after seeing a creation like Devastator filling the IMAX screen, I CAN NOT GO BACK. Rendering those CGI IMAX sequences undoubtedly cost multiple fortunes and pushed some F/X programmers to the brink of insanity (if not over), but the bar (for me at least) has been raised in terms of IMAX visuals and I’ll be damned if I see it lowered again.

Side Note: Michael Bay, you may want to consult James Cameron about all the crazy 3D CGI tech he’s invented for Avatar before you try to do Transformers 3. I’m just saying…

Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen is now in theaters. Did you see it in IMAX? What did you think (about the IMAX sequences, not the film overall)?

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23 Comments

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  1. Totally agree……100%!

  2. Yes, the forest fight scene was gorgeous to see in IMAX, and that’s actually the only thing that kept me from regreting seeing the film

  3. IMAX was so much sweeter than the regular theater. Forest scene was incredible in IMAX!

  4. Sadly, I was duped into seeing it in an IMAX digital theater, while some of my friends opted to see it in a real IMAX theater. They saw the format changes, but there were no format changes. The screen is only 25-30 feet tall anyway.

  5. i would like to see michael bay move away from 35mm film and use a new 70mm film system known as “super dimension 70″ Those who have seen it say its very 3d looking and better than imax. I feel 70mm would be much better value as it much higher resolution and is naturally widescreen giving no anamorphic distortion with greater depth.

    The company has there own projector which can play at 24 and 48 fps. The camera’s can record the same.

    They won’t sell the system but they will allow liscencing of the equipment and they will maintain the units.

    Michael bays photography screams 70mm when u see how ide his shots are.

    IMAX sydney, australia has the largest imax in the world an i believe they should liscence the system.

    http://www.superdimension70.com

    the company has rigged cameras up to be like 35mm except using 65mm film. If you want to see what 70mm 8k scanned downsampled to 1080p looks like see “BARAKA” bluray.

  6. The imax was beyond awesome at times, but everyone who I know who has seen it in imax agrees, you need to see it in both. You can’t fully grasp what’s happening during certain scenes because there is simply too much.

    For the Dark Knight, I saw it in regular and then IMAX. For this, I saw it just in imax. I’d recommend seeing it in regular first, and then decide if it is worth an imax ticket (which it definitely is).

  7. John Turturro’s ass on an IMAX screen a truly horrifying experience

  8. @ KroktheWeak. Oh yeah, I remember looking away from the screen during it.

  9. For me, the sloppiness of transition between IMAX format and standard format right in the middle of action sequences was AWFUL! In Dark Knight, the entire scene was shot with IMAX cameras, so when it went back to standard size, it really wasn’t noticeable. In Transformers, though, Michael Bay’s love for quick cut editing and the fact that the scenes shot in IMAX weren’t entirely shot that way, made for jarring transitions right in the middle of the action. It made me wonder if the IMAX scope decision was an afterthought…?

  10. After The IMAX forest scene I turned to my girlfriend and said between gritted teeth, “You know, I’m actually really enjoying this”. A collection of largely forgivable Michael Bayish scenes mixed with stupendously amazing transformers bits. After which my opinion steadily became luke warm as the film let itself down by a) not using IMAX half as much. b) The IMAX it did use was frustrating to watch because it involved the Devastator character which was a sideline scene largely untapped in its potential. (Prime versus Devestator anyone?) And c) overral, it became a raging flaming turd of a movie that I couldn’t wait to end by the time it did actually end. oh and a minor d) what was with some of Tron esque largely unfinished pre vis CGI in the finale? Very shaky!

  11. I think Tim Story should do Transformers 3. Or Ed Wood.

  12. It seems to me that people misunderstand the purpose of IMAX. It’s not about quality, it’s not about a big screen. It’s a desperate attempt to put butts in the seats, just like 3-D and (coming soon!) Smell-O-Vision.

    The fact is, the IMAX screen is a technical step backward to the 1930s when movie screen were 4×3. It has taken decades to get television sets and signals to convert to widescreen format so as to better reproduce the in-theater experience, which means a nice wide screen.

    When you watch Transformers at an IMAX theater, they are not “stretching” the movie, they are showing it as it was meant to be shown, in its original aspect ratio, but the screen is unfortunately proportioned like an obsolete 1930s movie screen or an old black & white TV. Sure, they could make the image fill the screen, by chopping off the sides…

    Now, I understand that 2 scenes were “filmed specifically for IMAX” but it’s just their way of saying “filmed to fit that old TV you threw away 8 years ago.” And people are getting excited over those scenes? Here’s an idea: go see the movie on a BIG WIDE screen that fills your field of vision, and you’ll be getting excited over every scene in every movie. This whole push to get people to pay extra to see a widescreen movie fill up only half of a skinny yet tall IMAX screen is a scam.

    What IMAX needs to do is invest in wider screens if they plan to offer real movies. Their theaters were designed to be like amusement park rides, small numbers of seats stacked more vertical than horizontal, close to the screen. At least widen them to 1.85:1, for most movies, and then film the “special IMAX scenes” in that ratio, and fill the screen. The whole point of wide screens, dating back decades, is that the human field of vision is much wider than it is high…

    Gotta go now, heading to IMAX to see Transformers. Just cuz I know something is a rotten marketing scam, doesn’t mean I can’t willingly participate. Gotta see that forest scene…

  13. educator your facts are wrong, imax isn’t 4:3, it’s 5:4. And your complaint about the the screen being skinny is utter garbage. The imax is tall for a reason, so it covers your full field of view. it’s also wider then most cinema scope screens.

    The imax isn’t outdated, Your understanding of the technology is. The push of 3D is for two reasons, many film makers want to film seriously with realistic depth of field. 2: to add an experience that will bring people back to the theatres.

    A standard cinemascope anamorphic print is very compressed 4k rez on a 35mm film print. Imax is on the highest quality film print which is 15/70mm. its has a rez of 10000×7000. Which is the reason the image can be so large, and clear close up.

    transformers 2 sucked at the imax because the 35mm anamorhpic is very low in resolution and is poorly scaled to large format film.

  14. I’ll make this short and brief. This was the first time for me to see or go to a IMAX. My friends and I drove all the way from Norman, OK to Tulsa, OK. In short for me I couldn’t tell what was done in IMAX at all. The IMAX intro that they played clearly showed a 3d look to it and was really impressed by that but never saw anything like that in T2. For me the drive wasn’t worth it for IMAX nor was the movie. Unless I go to see a full fledge IMAX movie i will never go there again.

  15. Bean you have said it perfectly. The imax intro is amazing, so 3d and clear. but the harry potter trailer ad transformers 2 movie quality was crap. The problem is blowing up a small 35mm print to large 15/70mm prints. The 35mm widescreen material was very blurry, when there was fast moving action, all you could see was a blur, The imax photography really just made the viewing seem normal, not extraordinary.

    The movie should have been shot on 5 perf/65mm widescreen prints. as the resolution fits perfecty onto large format imax with no upscaling required.

  16. I, too, wish IMAX would opt for wider aspect ratios. Sure, all that vertical space is fantastic, but the field of view is wide. I think 1.66 or 1.78 would look more natural. Just make it 50 or so feet wider. If 15/70 can’t handle that, just shoot the widescreen anamorphic to fit more information. That way, the change from full screen to 2.35 between scenes wouldn’t be as annoying.

  17. Ender, you need to understand what your preposing is pretty silly. If Imax were to make there screens wider they would be huge. We are talking 3 imax complexes side by side. You would have to be atleast 20+ meters to fit it in view.

    Imax may be 5:4 aspect ratio. But the screen so much bigger than any regular cinema screen that a normal cinemascope screen fits in the middel of imax screen.

    I understand what your getting at but the only realistic way to have tyhe qaulity aswell, would be to link 3 15/70mm film strips side by side. That way your getting getting the imax quality but in the more natural eye perspective of cinemascope. But you would need a massive screen and operation costs would likely triple.

    Considering your idea, theres a new film print, projector and camera called super dimension 70. which has been said to look better than imax and very 3d on 2d film. It’s naturaly cinemascope.

    There are movies like baraka which were filmed on tod-ao which is imax widescreen just throwing away top and bottom portion. Looks far better then anamorphic.

    If you have a bluray blayer buy baraka. Its the only 8k scanned movie you can buy downsampled to 1080p. meaning The 8K downsampled image retains a greatdeal more pixel information and detail then a direct 1080p scan.

  18. Thanks, Chris. I knew what I was asking for was very unrealistic, but I thought it would be in an out-of-this-world way. I’ve never seen Baraka, but I’ve heard of it. Do you think Super Dimension 70 and Todd-AO will make a grand come back anytime soon?

  19. All i can say is i wish. But i agree with you Ender. A cinemascope imax setup would be nice providing they used 3 imax’s along side each other. Other wise your sacrificing qaulity which i am sure no one wants.

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