Film Since I'm refusing to buy The Matrix Reloaded on DVD now on the grounds that a special edition box set will no doubt turn up soon, I decided to bridge the gap by seeing it on the IMAX format. This is the first time a feature film has appeared in the format, but in the UK it's certainly the biggest release.

This is not, however, an IMAX film. In other words it wasn't made in dual formats - the film's original ratio has been blown up digitally to these massive proportions. The issues are obvious. The usual IMAX ration is square so the effect is very similar to watching a widescreen film on a non-widescreen telly, only massive. The IMAX format also allows for much greater detail in the image. Here the blow up, although highlighting some detail at times looks - well - like a big VHS copy, colours swimming together and the real bugbear of home cinema users, edge enhancement on a grand scale. Lastly, in an IMAX film there are few close-ups because the viewer's eyesight can't take the whole image in; in two shots your left moving your head from side to side so that you can take as much in as possible.

The overall effect, though, is staggering. Even in this format, the viewer feels like they're in the centre of the action. I defy anyone not to get the feeling of movement as the Nebukadnezar swoops into Zion or as Trinity takes to the freeway on a motorcycle. The soundtrack has also been pumped up seating shaking as the action thumps away. There were people sitting as far back as possible in the auditorium, but frankly, what's the point. So there I was four rows back looking up slightly. A whole host of details are suddenly obvious, such as the quality of shaving materials available to the cast. Greyshading to a man, especially Keanu - nitpickers will glory as a tuft of stubble disappears and reappears as shots drift past. How some of the extras in the announcement to Zion scene really get into their miniscule parts hanging on Morpheus every word.

Because of the size of the IMAX reel, in the past feature films which have been rereleased in the the format have been trimmed. I discussed this with the usher beforehand and she said that she knew it was shorter but she couldn't tell where. If it was true, I couldn't either really. If anything has been trimmed it's been done very subtly and actually feels like a punchier piece. The Neo meets the architect scene seemed to go on forever in the cut I saw on the original release, but here it went very quickly and I didn't notice anything missing. Perhaps because I was paying more attention this time - I hadn't noticed the implication that the Merovingian had been taking advantage of the blonde in the bathroom after the cake incident - I can't have been that slow, surely? (well alright probably) Perhaps if everyone had seen this cut, the critical reaction wouldn't be as mixed. Just felt like a better film somehow. If anyone else has seen this in IMAX they'd like to tell me whether they saw anything missing.

So it's the perfect way to bridge the gap until November when Revolutions is released. Unless you're going to be buying the DVD in which case you're not gaining too much. Go and see something else in IMAX instead. Can I recommend Grand Canyon?

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