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ENCOUNTER IN THE THIRD DIMENSION

SYNOPSIS:
A bumbling professor (Stuart Pankin) welcomes us to his laboratory, where heís about to unveil his amazing new 3D process, Real-0-Vision. To help with the demonstration, heís enlisted showbiz personality Elvira, Mistress Of The Darkness (Cassandra Paterson). But just as things are getting started, something goes wrong with the Real-O-Vision machine, leaving Elvira trapped between the second and third dimensions. While the professor tries to set things right, his robotic assistant Max entertains the audience with a history of 3D technology from its beginnings to the present day.

"In terms of sheer visual mastery, few films can match this wild journey through the world of 3D. While thereís little to speak of in the way of plot and some of the imagery is clearly aimed at a juvenile audience; none of that really matters. Here, the visual and physical experience is whatís important. Combining state-of-the-art CGI with Imaxís 3D technology, Encounter... is a roller coaster ride with some education thrown in. The educational component includes tantalising tidbits from early 3D films, including the work of the Lumiere brothers; progressing through to the heyday of the 1950ís, when Hollywood was making up to thirty 3D films a year. Itís a shame these werenít given greater prominence in the overall structure of the film. But as itís only 50 minutes long (in common with most Imax films), thereís not a lot of room here for a lecture on film history - and letís face it, thatís not what most people will be coming to this film for. Director Ben Stassen says his aim is to "take the audience into the filmic space". On this count he undoubtedly succeeds. For most of the film, you feel like youíre sitting in the set watching the action. Encounter in the Third Dimension is a technical marvel, so strap on the 3D goggles, sit back and enjoy the ride."
David Edwards (Brisbane)

"For decades critics have been comparing films to theme park rides. This film actually is a theme park ride. A current blockbuster like The Matrix presents itself as pure illusion and spectacle. Same here, only more so. On the giant IMAX screen, even the corniest 3D effects have the power to put you in a giddy trance: itís like staring into a giant computer game, or watching Saturday morning cartoons while stoned. As in all 3D movies, projectiles are constantly hurtling out towards the audience (this is the main function of Max the robotic bat); repeatedly, the camera tracks in on a screen-within-the-screen and moves Ďinsideí it, giving the viewer a hypnotic sensation of penetrating further and further within the image. At moments, it's possible to get so immersed that you lose track of the spatial co-ordinates of the theatre; the film seems to unfold all around you, as though you had fallen into it like a pool of water. On the other hand, thereís no way you can care about any of the characters (the atrocious script is designed to be ignored) or confuse what you're watching with the real world. Rather than depth, the computer animation gives you layer after layer of floating, colourful surfaces, intricately textured, pristinely fake. It may not be cinema, but itís quite an experience. After you come out, you look at things differently: buildings and trees are smaller, flattened against the sky, and your eyes feel large enough to take in the world at a glance."
Jake Wilson (Melbourne)

"Not having seen a 3D movie before, I was unsure what to expect from Encounter in the Third Dimension at Sydneyís Imax theatre. Running a bit late, I rushed into the theatre and was handed a set of 3D goggles. Placing them on, I was immediately greeted with the title of the film that popped out of the screen and jumped almost onto the seat next to me. To be perfectly honest, I paid little attention to the story; I was more interested in the novelty of huge-screen 3D effects. And they were quite brilliant. For those of you who are not impressed by effects, and look for a riveting story in every film, donít bother seeing Encounter in the Third Dimension. But if you enjoy being fooled by your eyes, go and see this film. There are a number of sequences that will have you moving around in your seat in order to avoid things coming your way, or in some cases to follow the items being hurled through the screen, no matter how strong-willed you are. You just can't help it. There are enough effects in this film to keep even the most cynical 12 year old happy, yet it is not too technologically centred to daunt the overworked parents. People of all ages will enjoy Encounter, and hopefully there will be many more 3D films to dazzle the senses."
Sebastian Urban, Teen Editor (Sydney)

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

ENCOUNTER IN THE THIRD DIMENSION (G)

CAST: Stuart Pankin, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark as Herself, Harry Shearer, Andrea Thompson

PRODUCERS: Charlotte Clay Huggins

DIRECTOR: Ben Stassen

SCRIPT: Kurt Frey, Ben Strassen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sean MacLeod Phillips

LEAD ANIMATORS; Jeremie Degruson Sylvain Delaine

MUSIC: Louis Vyncke

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anthony Huerta

RUNNING TIME: 45 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Imax

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 20, 1999







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