2018-09-14 08:01:32 UTC
Checked-out the IMAX presentation last night at the Ontario Cinesphere.
A text intro explains how dust and scratches are normal for the 70mm presentation, and how the Cinesphere is one of only four IMAX theatres worldwide screening 2001:aso in 70mm. It is explained that when 2001:aso was made there was no CGI, and that there was no digital restoration for this IMAX re-release. A quote from Christopher Nolan followed, explaining that his "unrestored" version is the closest approximation of 2001:aso's presentation 50 years ago.
The Cinesphere was the first permanent IMAX venue in the world, and is still one of the largest, so the best description of 2001:aso on an IMAX screen would be, "more of everything." Static hairs and specks on many of the 8x10" transparencies taken in Southwest Africa for "The dawn of man" are clearly visible, and some shots involving optical dupes (e.g., the opening credits) are a grain-storm.
Per 'more of everything,' you can clearly see the "IBM screenpad" logo on the Discovery's tablets and "Visionphone" when Haywood Floyd phones VK. When the Pan Am flight stewardess is collecting the tray of food, you can even see specific numeric keypad combinations for the menu listing everything from white wine to apple cider. The smallest of typographic information was visible throughout the IMAX screening, and I would assume the upcoming 4K UHD BD of 2001:aso will have comparable resolution.
The print is the same 65mm I.P. source as was screened at the TIFF. Same cyan/yellow cast, cyan stars, splices, specks, vertical lines and mold spots (the IMAX screen reveals much more of the dancing mold spots, however). The sound is also the new 6-track restoration; however, the surround speaker setup is much better at the TIFF. In fact, the sound for everything before the intermission seemed one-or-two frames late at the IMAX Cinesphere. On the plus side, the rumble during the stargate sequence had seat-shaking bass.
As with the TIFF print, some sequences are flawlessly-sharp, grain-less and have spectacular colour on the IMAX screen. Bowman deactivating HAL and the stargate/cosmic birth sequence are the best 2001:aso has ever looked on film. The scene with Heywood Floyd and the Russians does fade-out at the end, as has been discussed and detailed over on the SK Reddit. The overture, intermission and exit music are also played for the IMAX presentation.
While restored to look almost new, the Cinesphere is still the same tourist trap it was a quarter century ago; with molasses-slow ticketing and concessions, and audience members sticking their legs across the seats in front of them, shoveling-down popcorn with their mouths open and snoring during the slower moments. It's difficult to remember back to when the Cinesphere was screening 70mm prints of 2001:aso, "Spartacus", "Apocalypse Now", etc. in the early-to-mid 90s, but I would say that this was probably the best visual presentation of 2001:aso I've seen, as I had a perfect seat this time.
I'm favouring the 70mm presentations of 2001:aso at the TIFF because, while the screen is smaller, the audience is much more respectful and the surround sound was superb.