The cinematic experience over the years has gotten more and less important. The advent of big budget 3D has really brought an element of urgency back to the movie going experience, but not every movie in 3D necessarily needs to be seen in 3D. For every Avatar, there is a lesser Clash of the Titans almost ruined by the effect. For every Hugo, there is a corresponding Coraline. Coraline was actually a wonderful little movie, but the appeal of 3D did not heighten it in any way other than it was in on the beginning of the craze. The point is that some movies are just a cinematic experience, and can not be enjoyed in the same way even on a 52 inch high def with 3D glasses ready to go. Some people’s movies are just comfortable on a smaller screen. Honestly, I see no reason why Adam Sandler or Jim Belushi have theatrical releases other than to recoup costs of making their movies. I will digress. Back when Jim Belushi made movies, they were much more comfortably watched on a smaller screen. This is not an indictment. I like Jim Belushi. I like watching Jim Belushi movies on a television. This is why Jim Belushi is best watched on an owned DVD with out interruption of commercials. You may have a different list, but here are a few of my favorite movies that need to be enjoyed as a cinematic experience.
X-Men (2000) – Sound. Now, I waited most of my 25 years at that point in my life to see the X-Men on the big screen at the point it was released. I am not going to lie about that one. Anticipation alone would not be good enough to make this list. Done properly in the theater, the surround sound innovations in X-Men cleverly messed with your mind. If you watched the movie in the theater, Professor X’s mental callings would only come through on one speaker in a different part of the theater the most. Xavier’s whispers would actually cause you to look over your shoulder to see where the sound was coming from. Unless you have 12 speakers in your living room rigged and can queue each one to hit Xavier’s voice at a specific time, then you will not get the jarring subtle, wonderful effect at home. Another reason to watch the movie in the theater is the sprawling opening sequence. This loses an awful lot on anything other than a widescreen. As far as sound goes, you have to also love the attention to detail they gave to getting SHINKT just so….
Alien (1979) – Go find and watch the most wonderful HD 1080 rendition of Space Mountain on YouTube. I am not going to post one here, but I highly recommend that you go do watch one. If you have, you will never believe anyone who tells you what a mind altering thrill ride Space Mountain is. Why? You watched the ride. You were not immersed in it. Immersion is the key element of fear in Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. In a theater, you are not seeing some one walk down a scary corridor on a vacuum surrounded tomb. You are walking down that corridor. Alien in the theater successfully not only gives you a great film, Alien puts you right on the Nostromo. In a dark theater, your mind will play tricks on you that do not occur in your own living room. My love of the Alien franchise is pretty well documented on these pages. In a theater, the experience goes from “Yeah, Dude, whatever…” to “I need adult diapers!!!” The darkness almost begs for light on the small screen. In a theater, the darkness is a character. You are a character in the cinematic experience. No movie does a better job of putting you in the movie.
The Boston Strangler (1968) – No movie does a better job of putting you in the environment than Alien. The Boston Strangler however comes pretty darn close. It is dumbfounding that the Boston Strangler is not regularly listed in the discussion of the top 25 films of the twentieth century. The main reason for this is that most people that have seen it saw the movie on either television (edited) or on a badly done video. The only way to watch The Boston Strangler is in the theaters. First of all, no other movie really gives you the first person viewpoint of a serial killer like The Boston Strangler does. Twenty seven years before Seven, The Boston Strangler had the stones to not show you the killer until an hour into the film. If you watch The Boston Strangler on television, you are not even getting a fourth of the effect. First of all, I could write an entire article on how Richard Fleischer should be in the discussion as one of great directors of the twentieth century (but that is for another time.) There are sequences in the movie when the screen will split off into different people on different phone conversations or different locations in different places all on the same screen. The effect is literally that you are watching two or three different windows into the same movie at the same time. On the small screen, the windows are either not visible or … gasp… not there and you just hear a cacophony of confusing noises. In the theater, this is an actual assault on the senses. The film is meant to make you feel uneasy and jarred up to the point in which you see the killer. Fittingly, this is in a mirror. Freudian implications aside, the suspense only grows as the film becomes more unified. All of it is lost because of an environment that cannot fully contain it.
Certain Blockbusters – A blockbuster movie is always intended for the big screen. However, the following three are ones that I cannot specifically point out the need for it to be seen on the big screen. I just think that they Should. The original Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars (1977) (no friggin’ episode I, II, or III or whatever) should be seen on the big screen, and especially Gone With The Wind. I cannot give specific reason why other than it is a really great experience. I am sure everyone has their own and (many in the audience being younger than me) may have more recent examples. Again, I heartily encourage discussion on this topic and am most interested in seeing what the site gives back.