Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Special Effects Take Flight in IMAX Film 'Wings of Courage' Mega Screens and 3-D Imagery Serve Up Visual Thrills

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Special Effects Take Flight in IMAX Film 'Wings of Courage' Mega Screens and 3-D Imagery Serve Up Visual Thrills

Article excerpt

You'll feel like you're in the picture! Movie advertisements have made that claim for years, but "Wings of Courage" makes good on the promise in a novel way. It's the first narrative movie presented in Imax 3-D, a new process combining the size of an Imax picture -- 10 times larger than 35mm film provides -- with the depth of 3-D imagery.

All of which raises an important question: Do you want to be in this picture, which centers on an intrepid aviator making his way to safety after crashing his plane in the Andes?

Adventure fans may answer with a rousing yes, since it's unlikely that any previous film has served up so many bone-chilling landscapes and life-threatening situations with such an obsessive sense of realism. But if you prefer cozy firesides to frostbitten journeys, you may prefer to wait for some future Imax attraction offering milder, homier pleasures.

Be this as it may, Imax 3-D will probably be on the scene for some time to come, if only because it represents such a hefty investment on the part of producers and exhibitors who've decided to use it.

Large quantities of high-tech thingamabobs -- from cameras as big as refrigerators to screens as high as eight-story buildings -- are needed to provide the visual thrills available at the Sony Imax Theatre in Manhattan, where I checked out the new process, and similar facilities in other cities.

Such equipment doesn't come cheap, so Imax promoters will be doing their best to generate a steady stream of pictures designed to draw the largest possible audiences. The most recent move in this direction is a commitment from cable TV's popular Discovery Channel to produce films in the large format.

"Wings of Courage" takes Imax a significant step beyond the documentary fare that has been its main product until now. Craig Sheffer plays a French aviator who waves goodbye to his wife and employers -- the great author Antoine de St. Exupery is among them -- and takes his 1930 biplane on a mail run over the Andes Cordillera range. Savage weather forces him into a crash landing, whereupon he stashes the mail in a safe place and starts walking toward civilization, countless miles away. …

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