Posted Wed Jul 5, 2023 at 07:37 AM PDT by Matthew Hartman
Tom Cruise's latest action-packed adventure as international IMF superspy Ethan Hunt is about to hit theaters. The franchise has always been about intricate spycraft, big stunts, and pulse-pounding-action set pieces. After the wall-to-wall nonstop action of Mission: Impossible Fallout, Tom Cruise and frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie are back for more with Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One. This and the upcoming sequel are rumored to be the swan song for Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt and that means big world-ending stakes, intense action, and impressive stuntwork demanding the best possible movie-going experience.
With theaters offering a variety of premium format options to give you a fully immersive cinematic experience, IMAX and Dolby Cinema are your best options over any standard theater screen. But what is the difference between IMAX and Dolby Cinema and which is the best way to enjoy Dead Reckoning Part One? Reviewers Bryan and Sam saw the film in each format and they might help you decide.
There are a number of premium format theater options out there intended to offer a definitive cinema-going experience - for a slightly more expensive ticket. IMAX and Dolby Cinema are the current top formats out there, but they're not made equal.
So let's start with IMAX:
Probably the most recognized premium format name to average moviegoers, IMAX has been the go-to for BIG screen theater viewings. The format got started with gorgeous nature documentaries but in the late 90s and early 2000s started to show Hollywood feature films reformated, and in the case of Attack of the Clones re-edited, for the biggest screen in town. And it is BIG. A true IMAX screen can measure anywhere from 50 to 125 feet high! Then you have Omnimax which not only adds height but then gives you an intense 180-degree sightline for a uniquely immersive visual experience. Then the theaters blast you with wall-to-wall earth-rattling surround sound to bring you right into the movies. And starting with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight - big Hollywood tentpoles were partially (or more recently entirely) shot with IMAX cameras to give you a truly BIG SCREEN experience with either a shifting or static aspect ratio.
But sadly not all IMAX screens are made equal. With around 1700 Imax screens globally, you have to do your research before you run off to any old theater. In the push to get more IMAX screens out there, some multiplexes retrofitted existing screens to support IMAX - but didn't give you the same height experience. Not by a long shot. While the picture may be crystal clear, these screens dubbed "Lie-MAX" by moviegoers are a frustratingly lacking experience and just aren't worth the extra premium format surcharge. So you have to do your homework to make sure the screen you're going to is genuine IMAX and not a pithy converted screen.
Let's now dive into Dolby Cinema:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray enthusiasts will know the names Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos - but you don't have to own a high-end home theater setup, you can go to your local theater! Utilizing their own dual high dynamic range laser projector system, Dolby Cinema screens promise the clearest, most detailed image possible with an intense surround and overhead audio experience. While only in a fraction of the theaters as IMAX, Dolby Cinema has set its own quality benchmark for image clarity and auditory resonance. Since all Dolby Cinema screens are certified by Dolby, there isn't a worry about one Dolby Cinema screen not being the same quality as the next Dolby Cinema screen. However - screen size is along standard theater ranges so you won't get that genuine HUGE SCREEN experience of IMAX.
Here's what Sam had to say about his Dolby Cinema experience:
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was viewed in Dolby Cinema at AMC Theaters Boston Common with a 4K Dolby Vision presentation that impresses with crisp colors, deep contrast and rich hues that come with the improved 4K laser projection. You can really tell the difference between the sequences shot normally and those framed for IMAX, though I don’t really fault the film for that, as the presentation on the whole is vivid and eye-popping. You won’t be disappointed by seeing it in Dolby Vision at a Dolby Cinema theater, though everything is cropped at 2.39:1. If you see this film in IMAX, certain sequences open up to the full-frame 1.90:1 ratio. The film was reportedly shot completely on Sony CineAlta Venice Cameras, made popular for their use on Top Gun: Maverick, which explains why everything is so crisp and vivid.
At the time of press, we didn't have confirmation that there wouldn't be any open frame 1.90:1 IMAX sequences - given past blockbuster titles and Mission: Impossible entries it was a safe assumption. After finally getting clarifications and numerous readers letting us know, the IMAX version of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One does not have expanding aspect ratio sequences and is apparently fixed at 2.39:1. Apologies for the confusion there.
Here's what Bryan had to say about his IMAX experience:
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One is being released in just about every theater across the world. The film will be available to watch in standard theaters or if one is so lucky, a choice of IMAX or Dolby Cinema enhanced theaters. What is the difference here? This film was shot on the Sony CineAlta Venice IMAX cameras, which means it was specifically made for IMAX theaters, or at least the big action set pieces were. That full scope from top to bottom in crystal clear clarity is something special to witness, especially during the incredible train sequence that allows for every type of visual imagination. It's an immersive experience when Cruise jumps off a mountain and lands on a train, along with some of those winding, narrow streets during the car chase. Movies like this are made to be seen on the biggest screen possible and IMAX delivers that option with perfection here.
While Sam enjoyed the viewing experience of Dolby Cinema - Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One was made to be seen at IMAX. Using the state-of-the-art Sony CineAlta Venice Cameras, both experiences guarantee you a better image experience than a standard theater screen - but IMAX looks like the clear overall winner overall. From incredible car chases to daring jumps to runaway trains, the film is sure to be a visual feast. Bryan and Sam may have had differing opinions about the film itself, but they both agree the action setpieces are incredible and demand to be seen on the best and biggest screens available.
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