Star Trek at the Cinerama

Melody and I don't go out to see many movies in the theater, but I took a couple days of vacation last week and on one of those days I went downtown to the Cinerama to see Star Trek. Since I went to a matinee there was no line and the theater was less than half full, even though the movie was released less than a week before.

The Cinerama is easily my favorite movie venue in the Seattle area. Just a single screen, but it's a big one. Behind that screen is an even larger one which is curved and designed for three-strip films. To give you an idea of how large it is, Wikipedia says the standard IMAX screen is 72 feet wide and 53 feet high; the Cinerama's large screen is 90 feet wide and 30 feet high (the smaller screen is 68 feet wide).

The 90-foot screen is unusual since it's partially made up of individual strips less than an inch wide and positioned to make a deep curve while still directing the image to the audience instead of the side of the theater. Again referencing Wikipedia, its Cinerama entry shows illustrations of how the three projectors are set up and gives you an idea of just how wide a three-strip image is.

Of course the seats are comfortable and the sound more than fills the theater (it's actually a bit loud for my taste). We've seen many movies there; the Cinerama is where I went to see the rerelease of the Indiana Jones movies.

I've also seen Star Wars movies at the Cinerama, so it seemed a bit of a mental shift to watch Star Trek in the same venue. There were no people in costume, but the nod to geekdom was all of the smart phones I saw in use before the lights dimmed. Literally one out of every four or five people around me was looking at a phone, and the woman next to me didn't turn hers off until a few minutes into the actual movie.

What did I think of the movie itself? It was fun, and did a good job at hitting the tone of the TV show. You know that you're going to get plot twists and lots of action with a J.J. Abrams movie, and Star Trek is no exception. It did, however, feel like it was missing a bit of the Star Trek essence; even though it did a pretty good job of using the action sequences to further the plot, I think Gene Roddenberry's vision as personified on TV concentrated more on having the action further character development. Not that I think the movie failed in that way, since today's audience seems to want breathtaking action and complex special effects.

I'd still definitely recommend the movie to Star Trek fans, if only to see a different vision of the Star Trek universe. Non-fans would also enjoy it as a good example of a science fiction/action picture. The part I felt the most need to suspend disbelief is how all the main characters happened to end up on the same ship the way they did, since that breaks with how the characters came together on TV. However, it ends up not really mattering anyway (and that comment will make more sense once you've seen the movie).