Episode 353: It’s Curious That It’s Furious

The Overthinkers tackle Fast and Furious 7, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

otip-logo-podcastoneBen Adams, Peter Fenzel, and Matthew Wrather overthink Furious 7, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.


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5 Comments on “Episode 353: It’s Curious That It’s Furious”

  1. Jamas Enright #

    You pick up on Magnificent 7 – Furious 7… that’s intentional. The director was invoking Seven Samurai with the title. (according to the trivia page on IMDB)


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Particularly interesting when you consider that the story of Dom and his crew in this movie is a story of loss (of self, of identity, of volition, of life) and of “a last ride,” and the victory goes not so much to the “warriors,” but to the “villagers” – to Mia and Brian, who get to settle down with their son.

      That the true hero is the everyday person, not the samurai.


  2. Dan Alt #

    To answer the question about Cinemark DX vs. IMAX. It’s important to note that not all IMAX is created equal. A bit of context:

    Before 1993, the ultimate experience you could have seeing a mainstream movie in a theater was to see it in 70mm. I remember driving across town to see “Last Crusade” in a theater showing it in 70, because it just looked so much better. Why? With twice the area per frame compared to 35mm film, you could get twice the resolution with the same film stock. It was also brighter, because you could push more light through more area without melting it. 70mm ALSO had the best sound, because with a magnetic stripe down the sides of the print, it could hold 5 channels plus a sub channel, which was better than you could do with the optical sound on traditional prints.

    Then, in 1993, Jurassic Park happened. With the addition of digital sound to a 35mm optical print, suddenly you had 5 or 7 channels of sound without the hassle of having to degauss the projector between every reel. Further, since 70mm was *heavy* it cost a lot of money to ship. Between those two factors, it only took three years from Jurassic Park to debut digital sound in 1993, to the last mainstream film released in 70mm, “Titanic.” in 1996. In three short years, we lost the best looking theatrical format ever, throwing the picture baby out with the sound bathwater.

    What about IMAX, you ask? Well, when IMAX first appeared, it was strictly a film format. Where a standard 35mm frame is 5 perforations by 35mm, and a 70mm frame is 5 perforations by 70mm, an IMAX frame is *15 perforations* by 70mm. In other words, *six* times as large as a standard frame. The resolution was STUNNING, and you could blow that puppy up to the size of a tennis court. However, the drawbacks were that you had to keep the projection room under clean room conditions, because a speck of dust at that magnification looked as big as a Schnauzer. Also, because the film was so large, it was very difficult to show feature length movies, so it tended to be used for hour long documentaries and the like.

    Note that these are exhibition formats, and independent of what format the film was shot in. Films could be shot in 70 and printed in 35 or vice versa. You had to worry about matching aspect ratios, but that’s not a huge deal. If you blew a theatrical feature up for an IMAX screen, you either letterboxed or cropped it.

    So IMAX still looked pretty, even after we lost 70mm. But there was one more baby still lurking in the tub, and we couldn’t have that.

    Along around the mid 2000s, the studios decided that the no longer wanted to mess around with 35mm prints either. “The time has come” they declared, “for all you theaters to upgrade to DIGITAL projection, so we can just ship you hard drives!” “Okay!” said the theaters. What else could they say? That’s where the movies came from.

    The only problem is that they jumped a generation too early. Most theatrical projection systems are 2k, which is better resolution than standard def DVD, but nothing like as good as film. And this isn’t one of those “vinyl vs. cd” arguments that people go on endlessly about. If you look at the “A”s and “W”s in the credits of a digitally projected movie, especially in older installations, it’s very easy to see the pixelation. But out goes the baby anyway, because shipping costs. The industry hopes to gradually move to 4k projection, which WILL equal film projection. And to be fair – hard drives don’t get scratched the way prints can.

    And at last I return to the original question. In the age of digital projection, what does IMAX actually mean? It’s no longer a 15/70 film format most places. Instead, it’s just one approach to throwing a digital picture on a big screen. A number of theater chains have their own approaches, including Cinemark. They all have minor variations, and they’re all pretty, but none of them are the dramatic increase in quality that film IMAX had over traditional film, or for that matter that 70mm had over 35mm.

    So there you are… waaaaay more information than you wanted.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Nope, that was exactly the amount of information that I wanted.

      I was aware of the compromised, digitally projected LIE-max. (That’s the article that started it all, half a dozen years ago. Here’s another good explainer from /Film.) But what I didn’t realize was that in addition to opening crappy fake IMAX theaters (in a marketing deal with AMC, for example), they were downgrading real IMAX theaters to make them crappy too.

      The place I go in Culver City, formerly “The Bridge,” then “Rave Cinemas,” and now owned by Cinemark, used to be a real IMAX theater, projecting on 70mm film. I saw one of the Nolan Batman movies and and Ghost Protocol there. It was the real thing, and it was awesome. And so it’s disappointing to see it go digital.

      Anyone who lives in LA can still see movies in 70mm from time to time at the Nuart and at the Cinerama Dome (now an Arclight). I saw 2001 on 70mm as a teenager. It is well worth the effort it takes to get there.


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