I've seen the future and — surprise — it's in 3D
Jun. 11, 2015


Watching Mad Max: Fury Road in 3D on IMAX with Laser at Scotiabank Theatre simply blew me away. It was like watching the film, which I love and had already seen twice, for the first time.

New technology has become a hard sell for me lately, because so much of it disappoints.

My whiz-bang new smartphone, supposedly the best ever, loses its cellular signal with alarming regularity. It has apps that don’t work as advertised. I wonder if I bought a lemon.

My light-as-air laptop, another hot product, seems to get a completely new operating system every six months, whether I want it or not. More frequent are the software patches to fix glitches in whatever OS I’m currently working with.

I’m left with the gloomy feeling that nothing works the way it’s supposed to. I think part of my disillusion stems from the fact that I’m old enough to remember the first moon landing by Apollo 11 in 1969.

Everything worked perfectly for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, even though their lunar module Eagle had less computing power than the smartphone I’m now cursing.

Nothing in the realm of technology has been more of a turnoff for me than 3D movie projection, which has always been more snake oil than salvation. The newer 3D glasses resembling motorcycle goggles are no improvement on the old red-and-blue eyesores of decades past.

They might actually be worse, because in addition to failing to adequately deliver the promised third dimension, they also darken the screen. It’s like watching a movie through sunglasses. Whenever I hear the old Timbuk 3 hit “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” I think of 3D films.

But then I went this week to Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre, to catch a late-night screening of Mad Max: Fury Road in the new IMAX with Laser system recently installed there on the 80-foot-wide screen. It was my third viewing of the movie, having previously viewed it in Cannes and Toronto, but the earlier screenings were in traditional 2D, or “flat” as they say in industry jargon.

I’d read the eye-glazing stats on the new IMAX system, which has the distinction of being the only one of its kind in Canada and one of only four in North America. IMAX started here in 1971 with North of Superior at Ontario Place, and the company’s research and development lab is in Mississauga, so it’s only right, eh?

I wasn’t expecting much. Earlier in the week, I’d seen Tomorrowland on the same system in 2D. I liked the brightness and sharpness of the images and the clarity of the sound, but I also noticed all the wrinkles and blemishes on the faces of the actors, not only on 54-year-old George Clooney but also on the younger actors. I could see the makeup used to cover them up.

It was a little distracting, but not as much as Peter Jackson’s failed experiment with 48-frames-per-second projection for The Hobbit, which was like watching high-definition television.

But seeing Mad Max in 3D on IMAX with Laser simply blew me away. It was like viewing the film, which I love, for the first time. The screen was bright, with no sense of that sunglasses feeling. The image clarity was extremely sharp, offering a palpable sense of depth I’d never experienced before.