When it comes to an enhanced moviegoing experience for which I'm going to cough up a few extra dollars, I will always take a film shot in IMAX (completely or partially) over 3D. The thirty minutes of THE DARK KNIGHT filmed in IMAX are far more exhilarating and immersive than anything in AVATAR, while documentaries like EVEREST and HUBBLE 3D fill every minute with genuine, jaw-dropping awe. I know it's pricey, and I know the cameras are onerous, but if you can harness the potential of the format, you'll give moviegoers an experience they will never be able to get at home.
Like the vertigo-inducing sight of Tom Cruise dangling for real from the 130th floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. You're going to see glimpses of this sequence in the brand-new trailer for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL below, but you won't truly experience it until you see this madness in IMAX.
Last week, Paramount held a special footage presentation at the Rave 18 IMAX theater in Los Angeles, where they unveiled almost the entire Burj sequence as well as a subsequent foot/car chase through a blinding sandstorm. I walked away very impressed. Finally, someone has given Brad Bird the opportunity to make a big, live-action spy movie, and he's responded with the kind of practical, stunt-heavy brio that got us hooked on the Bond franchise as kids (Guy Hamilton and Peter Hunt would certainly approve). Working with legendary cinematographer Robert Elswit and the game-for-anything Cruise (only one shot in the entire Burj sequence features his double), Bird makes us feel like we're stuck out there on the tallest building in the world with Ethan Hunt. I don't know how this will play on a regular theater screen, but in IMAX, this sequence feels like an instant classic. Seriously, if you're afraid of heights, make sure one of your friends brought smelling salts. It's insane.
The second sequence finds Hunt chasing someone through a sandstorm that has suddenly engulfed Dubai. This gives Cruise the opportunity to run his ass off onscreen (as he is contractually obligated to do in every film), and, finally, drive like a maniac in zero visibility. The sequence climaxes with Cruise using GPS to locate his target, at which point he uses his car as a missile to take his adversary out. Unfortunately for Cruise, the bad guy survives the deadly-looking crash and gets away. And that's where the scene ended.
We already know Bird is a visual genius from his brilliant animated films (THE IRON GIANT, THE INCREDIBLES and RATATOUILLE), and it appears that talent has made the transition to live-action. Let's hope the rest of the movie is up to this dizzyingly high standard.
Closer to the December 21st, 2011 release date, I'll post a 1:1 interview I conducted with Bird after the event.