It must have been a couple of decades or more ago at least when a friend of mine introduced me to his new gaming console and suggested that I might enjoy playing at least some of the games on it. Was it a Nintendo N64? It was about that era.
Anyway, five minutes in and I bailed because, it turns out, video games make me feel travel sick.
And so does IMAX. It was in 2015 that I had my first (and until today) only IMAX experience, watching Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak and absolutely hating the experience.
But the Beatles dragged me back there, of course they did. Knowing that our local IMAX, at the Odeon in Milton Keynes, is really too small, I booked seats in the back row in the middle, the premium seats, £73.50 for the three of us, hoping that I would have sufficient distance from the screen.
You know, I said earlier today that I was still feeling weird 90 minutes after coming out, but the truth is that right now, nine hours later, I still feel weird. I still feel as if I have been on a six hour coach journey, or have crossed the Channel in a storm on the hovercraft.
So IMAX is not for me. As for the Beatles experience, well. I hate to be that person who can’t enjoy things, but while Peter Jackson’s filmmaking is great and the music was great, and it sounded good, I thought it was a shitty experience in a joyless venue at over £1 per minute.
First of all: twenty minutes of fucking ads, for which they owe me £20. Jesus Christ. And these are ads made for much smaller screens, and look terrible on the IMAX screen. But then, almost everything looks terrible on the IMAX screen because the IMAX screen is terrible.
The ads for films they thought this (aged) audience would be interested in were fucking awful too, including a blatant Sandra Bullock remake of Romancing the Stone which doesn’t even have the grace to acknowledge what it’s ripping off. And Downton Abbey, o the humanity.
After that, and several adverts for the IMAX experience (methinks the format doth protest too much) the Beatles-in-ten-minutes thing showed and then the rooftop gig, plus the bit at the end where they listen to playback and do some more recording the following day as the credits roll.
The big screen compensated somewhat for the splt-screen effects, but I did feel throughout that this massive blow up of what was originally a 16mm negative did nothing but reveal the limitations of the source. A lot of it looked out of focus to me, but then I don’t think I’ve been to a cinema in the post-projectionist era without thinking it was out of focus.
It did bring the scene to life, though, and you noticed that everybody on the rooftop looked really cold, and then the cold air pumping into the auditorium really felt like Sensurround. It was fecking freezing in there. Which didn’t help the atmosphere because there were hardly any people there either. I think demand for this fell away sharply.
The bit that affected my inner ear the most was all the hand held footage, especially at the end. That really was a hovercraft-on-twenty-metre-waves moment. Still feel weird.