Debate: Best Movie to Re-Release in IMAX

This past week saw a limited re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX. Next summer, Jurassic Park is slated to be re-released in IMAX 3D. This is a trend that Josh and I are very much supportive of. Movies are meant to be viewed in theaters. Certain movies greatly benefit from the IMAX experience. Additionally, IMAX re-releases allow fans to revisit their favorite films and spawn new generations of fans. So which older movie would be most worthy of a re-release? I’ll be defending Akira. Josh will be defending Blade Runner.

Harrison: I think the key to any IMAX re-release is that it has to be a “big” movie. It needs to be the type of movie that benefits from the ginormous screen and the booming audio. It needs to be, in of itself, a loud, brash movie. It should also be crowd pleasing movie. One that can cultivate a lot of energy from the audience. I’m choosing Akira for two reasons. One, most importantly, it meets all the requirements above. It’s loud, it’s got a great soundtrack. The animation, to this day, is still mind bending and amazing. Two, considering the many failed attempts over the years to make a live action version, why not just re-release the original and showcase why it’s such an awesome movie.

Josh E: I think I agree with Harrison’s statement that the film must be “big” but I don’t necessarily think big is necessarily loud or brash. An IMAX re-release serves two purposes one, it should draw enough of a crowd to sustain it’s transfer (to the IMAX medium) and two the film should benefit from it. I think Akira may fit that mold but I would argue that Blade Runner would benefit more from a re-release in the IMAX format because not only will it draw enough of a crowd to be worthy of the transfer but it will enhance the film which is one of the best sensory films of all time.

Harrison: I’d love to see Blade Runner in IMAX, but I’m gonna be steadfast in saying IMAX re-releases should be big and loud. To me there’s a reason why many summer blockbusters end up being shown in IMAX. It’s a perfect fit. Akira might not be a summer blockbuster like Terminator 2 was, but it’s still a bold movie that would greatly benefit from the IMAX experience.

Josh E: At a certain volume noise becomes just that noise. Also I object with the stance that you’re taking that Blade Runner is a quiet movie. Sure it’s not full off loud stunts but there’s enough action and the sound scape that is in the film would benefit from the IMAX release.

Harrison: I should clarify. Compared to Akira Blade Runner is more tame as a movie. All movies should strive to have their audience immersed in the film. The IMAX venue just kicks that into overdrive. I feel like Akira would be a very visceral film experience. Akira by design is a trippy sci-fi action movie. Releasing the movie in IMAX could really enhance the trippiness.

Josh E: I fail to see how Blade Runner is not trippy.

Harrison: Blade Runner has a great mix of it being a sci-fi movie with many fantastical elements. Hell the whole movie is about chasing down robots who look human and quite possibly don’t know they are robots. However, Ridley Scott crafted a universe that still has one foot in the realm of “realism.” He presents this sci-fi universe as a somewhat natural extension of our own universe. Akira does not have the same design philosophy it makes no attempt to connect to our current reality. By being more metaphorically cartoon-y it enhances the trippy elements.

Josh E: This summer I saw the Spider-Man reboot in IMAX 3D and had a great time. I think that you’re claiming that because a film is a cartoon it deserves and IMAX release. However a cartoon which is naturally limited to its hand drawn beginnings seems to be the opposite of what constitutes a good movie for a high resolution transfer.

Harrison: I mean. I never said it would be easy to convert Akira. Just that it would be friggin’ awesome. I get that Blade Runner would be really awesome in IMAX. I’m not saying it wouldn’t. But for me personally, I think the best movies to re-release on IMAX are any sort of movie that has adventure motifs in it. That’s why Raiders of the Lost Ark was awesome. That’s why I’m predicting next year’s release of Jurassic Park will be amazing. Adventure movies themselves are big and brash. It’s not just about the action either. I love martial arts movies. Martial arts movies are, in my opinion, the purest form of action movies. The whole point is to watch people use their fists to beat each other up. There’s really no martial arts movie I’d want to see in IMAX.

Josh E: I think I fundamentally disagree. I think because Ridley Scott is such a meticulous director and that Blade Runner has such a specific look filled with fantastic tangible visual effects it would benefit from a high resolution transfer. Not to mention the fact that the ephemeral score from the Vangelis would sound excellent as well. Also at the heart of Blade Runner is what you call an adventure motif: a cop is trying to track down four criminals.

Harrison: Very true. However, I think that Blade Runner treats its adventure roots with some subtlety and in IMAX there’s no room for subtlety.

Josh E: I think that what we’re fighting over is that behind the camera/in front of the camera dynamic. I believe that Blade Runner would be superior because all the work behind the camera will be enhanced, while you’re arguing that all the work in front of the camera in Akira will be enhanced.

Harrison: Yeah, I pretty much agree.

Josh E: I’ll conclude with an anecdote: there’s a scene from a making of documentary on the final cut blu ray of Blade Runner and it describes the depth that the art department had to go through for Blade Runner. One scene where a newsstand is shown dozens of fake magazine and newspaper covers were made to go into the newsstand which wasn’t even the main focus during the shot. I would like to see a film where that much depth of field production design is done transferred to IMAX.

Harrison: As you’ve probably guessed, I’m the resident action movie fanboy on this site. I’ve said before that one reason I value movies is that the ones I find to be the best feel like amusement park rides. When you re-release a movie in IMAX it turns the ride from a Coney Island wooden roller coaster to a 30 story mega roller coaster with loop-de-loops, corkscrew turns, and stomach churning drops. That’s how I want to experience Akira.

What movie would you like to see re-released in IMAX? Chime in below!

Harrison and Josh E.

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