Tonight, I went to see Superman Returns for the third time. I saw it on IMAX this time, to use up a coupon for a free ticket and to see how IMAX would treat the Man of Steel.
IMAX as a reproduction of dramatic movies more popularly viewed on 35MM screens is simply substandard. Since I’ve seen the movie already, on two different 35MM screens, I know precisely what to expect. Many of the visual splendors that jumped out at me so clearly and cleanly on the regular screen were lost to the sheer magnitude and inferior luminosity of the IMAX screen.
The production design, cinematography, and lighting of Superman Returns hew to a dim hyperreal palette that works only when it’s sharp. On IMAX, it is not. There were moments, while watching, when I thought, “Where’s the thingie I could see so clearly on the smaller screen?”
Aspects of a facial expression only half-lit, the color of eyes in shadow, the difference between dark red, maroon, and brown under golden light.
As with most of our super-sized culture — whether it’s an SUV or a 36-ounce Slurpee — bigger just ain’t better.