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BMZ Review: NASCAR: The IMAX Experience (3D/2D)
By Dave Lewis

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NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience
Written by: Dave Lewis
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: March 12, 2004

     

Category: Reviews

Guaranteed to stir even those completely unfamiliar with the world of stock car racing, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience is truly one of the best examples of large-screen filmmaking yet seen.

Part history lesson, part drama, and all spectacle, the film begins with a brief rundown of how NASCAR began on circular dirt tracks in North Carolina. It was there that the sport's founder, Bill France, first got behind the wheel, and the sport has been headquartered there ever since. NASCAR racing has grown to America's largest spectator sport, with fans from coast to coast. The film highlights tracks and races in California, North Carolina and, of course, Daytona, Florida.

As explained by narrator Kiefer Sutherland, NASCAR is more of a team sport than you might expect. The film gives screen-time to not just the drivers, but also to the engineers, the mechanics, the sponsors (everything from Cheerios to Viagra) and the pit crews (they can change four tires in 13 seconds!) who all work together to make a car go really, really fast.

All the most famous racers make appearances, from Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the multi-generational Petty family. Especially noteworthy is the brief, but heartfelt, tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died in a crash not long ago. NASCAR also takes you inside the garages and hi-tech labs where each engine, tire and body is tested and re-tested by teams of engineers working nearly around the clock.

Director Simon Wincer (Young Black Stallion) keeps things moving at a pace that racers would appreciate, and there is hardly a dull moment. The racing footage (filmed from outside and inside the cars) is nothing short of astonishing, and the film can be seen as the sole reason IMAX 3D was invented. The 3D effect (which audiences see through very comfortable wrap-around glasses/head gear) surpasses that of  T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous and other recent LF efforts. Theatres will no doubt be advised to crank the digital sound up to 11.

Along with all the expected music featured on the soundtrack (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers), there are a few surprises, notably Ministry's "Jesus Built My Hotrod."

NASCAR fans should be ecstatic to see racing action on a larger-than-life screen, but non-fans will have an equally good time taking in the sights and sounds of one of IMAX's most exciting films yet.

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