Nascar 3D: The IMAX Experience begins like any Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Good guys chasing bad guys. It’s shot in a bigger then life way and the bad guys beat the good guys, but the bad guys really aren’t that bad. They just know how to drive better. As this documentary, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland(Phone Booth) continues, it soon becomes Bruckheimer without the Bruckheimer(he has had nothing to do with this movie). We as viewers get a brief history of NASCAR, basically bootleggers got tired of just outrunning the law and eventually wanted better competition. Over time the people racing realized that in order to be legitimate they would need leadership and that was what made a bunch of them come together to make stock car racing a viable sport. They formed a governing body called NASCAR. After that came the DAYTONA 500 and the rest is history...
This is such a richly shot, lushly textured DVD, I am almost beside myself. It is so well done. So amazingly put together, I can’t say enough about it. It takes a sport rich with tradition and makes it easily accessible. Never at any point did I feel lost or that there was too much information coming at me. This documentary broke everything down from beginning to end. As someone who has made a documentary(I edited down 22 hours of footage into 55 minutes for Curse of Instinct: 108’s Final Tour, I know firsthand that cutting footage in a “reality piece” is no easy feat. Well, it certainly seems that way here. The filmmakers have created a document of one of the biggest phenomenon's in our country. It is certainly something to be preserved and treasured and we are lucky to have it on DVD.
I look forward to the day when the IMAX format moves out of the documentary category and filmmakers start using it to shoot their movies. I say this because it is such a great way to make a movie. So much can be captured, so many nuances. It seems like it was created for the tent pole, big budget blockbuster movie. In many ways, those movies seem confined by the mediums with which they are captured. IMAX has been making a great case for itself to be the standard for some time now, and I think it’s only inevitable that some daring filmmaker will eventually take the plunge.
Sadly, no extras we’re included with this DVD. It would have been great if there would have been at least a 5-10 minute “making of” Nascar 3D: The IMAX Experience. Something to show us how the shots in an IMAX Film are put together. Not that I think it would be that much different from a regular movie, but IMAX is such an amazing piece of technology. It would’ve just been nice to learn more about it.
Beyond that, there could have been something to keep the car enthusiasts happy, maybe some interviews with the early founders of NASCAR(showing period cars), interviews with fans who attend NASCAR, I mean this DVD claims that NASCAR is America’s #1 spectator sport. I would think with that broad demographic, the numbers for this disc are going to be huge. Or, maybe the creators of it have released this as a pre-disc and then have a “supercharged” one in the works?
Either way, just a little more in the extras department would have been nice.
Standard Version. This film has been MODIFIED as follows from it’s original version: It has been formatted to fit your screen. Yes folks, you read that correctly. An IMAX film that is full screen. Imagine how disheartened I was. Not that I know anything about NASCAR, but I do know about IMAX and I know about widescreen. Maybe they think that their audience wouldn’t like widescreen, I don’t know, but that is really my only complaint. I mean come on, this is an IMAX movie. It could have been shot by a corpse and chances are it would look amazing. The scenes are so lush, so well composed that I found myself having to remember that I was in fact watching a documentary. This movie looks that good. The images are so sharp. The compression so strong. This is what I guess people mean by “pure cinema” because there is nothing about the screening of this film that left me wanting, except for that pesky “full screen” thing. This movie looks so amazing that I am willing to forgive that because the IMAX experience is an experience indeed. In fact, this movie looked so awesome, I am reconsidering trying to screen The Polar Express again because of it. That said, I still found Lord of the Rings - Return of the King to be a stale experience even in the IMAX format. Oh well...
Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Honestly, I would have expected them to have a new type of sound for this documentary. I don’t know why but I guess because everything else about IMAX raises the bar, that I figured the bar would be raised here as well. This movie sounds great, although there were points when I thought that Kiefer Sutherland’s narration was drowned out a bit by the soundtrack music. This stated, remember that I am watching it on a TV with one speaker. So my setup is probably what IMAX was least meant for. That said, everything about this movie is grand. It is made on a grand scale and the sound just adds to the overall “bigness” of everything. I found this to be one of the rare times where just image and soundtrack were enough. Dialogue was really not needed. Just hearing the crowd roar was such a bone chilling experience. The sound design makes you feel as if you are in the stands. Top notch all the way. In fact, I highly recommend this movie for people who are home theater enthusiasts.
This comes with an outer covering that looks the same as the cover. The only difference is that the outer covering comes with a type of material that when you move it every which way it looks like the cars that are speeding down the track, are actually moving. This image of the car is a strong one. You get the sense that the creators know this because all it has is that shot, a quick blurb from Automobile Magazine and the title IMAX: Nascar above it. The back has another shot of some cars(sorry, these DON’T move) and a description of what is on the DVD. Inside was just a disc with some more cars on it. Overall, this is very simple but it is an IMAX movie and it’s about NASCAR. How much more information will potential buyers need? I really do like the outer covering. It just goes the extra mile and makes the disk stand out that much more. Without the material to make the car look like it is moving, I don’t think that the same effect is achieved and the disc really doesn’t stand out as much. It looks like any other NASCAR dvd.
I knew nothing about NASCAR before I started watching Nascar 3D: The IMAX Experience, I knew nothing about this “sport”. I am not saying I know that much more now, but at the very least I have a greater appreciation for it. I understand what it takes to make a race car. What goes into building it from scratch. I got to feel and comprehend what it must be like to be in a pit crew. To have to make split second decisions and know that I made the right ones. I got to explore how one must run a diagnostic check on something as complicated as a stock car in seconds. I think I also understand a little bit about what the fans see in the sport. NASCAR gives people something to root for. It’s simple. There seem to be less politics involved. You drive the fastest. You win the race. There is however a lot more to it then that. There is so much that goes into negotiating your way around a racetrack. The decisions that have to be made to get you around not only other drivers but immense and unpredictable forces of nature.
I think this is a superb DVD for fans, home theater owners and anyone else interested in being thrown into the hi-paced landscape of NASCAR.
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience was released March 12, 2004.