After watching The Force Awakens five times, I felt I knew the film well. I could recite most of the one-liners, give an in-depth analysis of the various plot points, themes and characters, and even hold my own if it came time to defend the awesomeness of Episode VII if confronted by trolls, haters and EU sympathizers. But…as it turns out…I was wrong – at least from a certain point of view.

For my birthday, my wife surprised me with tickets to see TFA in IMAX 3D. At first, though I wouldn’t have admitted it aloud, I was anxious. Not necessarily in an “I can’t wait to see TFA in IMAX 3D” way, but more of an, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” way.

In 1983, when ROTJ was ruling conversations and the box office, there was another movie that came out: Jaws Jaws 3DIII in 3D. To be fair, I’m sure Joe Alves, the Director, is a perfectly wonderful chap, but
as a fan of Jaws (and to a lesser extent, its sequel) I was put off by the film’s poor use of 3D. Granted, it was over 30 years ago, and technology is nowhere near what many people can now do on their smartphones, but the use of 3D was forced and, well, cheesy.  The equivalent would be the overuse of CGI in a movie just because one could. Oh, wait…

Regardless, Jaws III in 3D tainted the 3D movie-going experience for me even at an early age. So, as we arrived at the Metreon theater in San Francisco, I took my seat, with the expectation that I would leave two-hours-and-sixteen-minutes later, feeling like I had in the summer of ’83.

I. Was. Wrong.

The IMAX 3D experience was just that – an experience. I realized from the opening scene that when used properly, 3D added a level of depth to the action on screen that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Remember, I had previously seen the film five times, so there weren’t any surprises regarding what was going to play out on screen. What was a surprise is how immersive the viewing became. Suddenly, there was a depth of field that helped to bring scale and new details to life. While this is true of the film as a whole, it was most apparent to me in the scenes shot in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base. It didn’t make the film better, so much as it made the film experience better.

All in all, the 3D version of the film – coupled with the IMAX screen – played for a truly wonderful and memorable experience from crawl-to-credits. While the ticket cost is significantly higher than a standard 2D version matinee, I highly recommend making the trip to your nearest IMAX 3D theater while TFA is still running.

What about you? What’s been your best TFA viewing experience so far?

-DK