Preview by: Jack Foley
FOR 38 weeks every year, 43 of Americas best drivers compete
in a series of gruelling races on tracks across America, in pursuit
of NASCAR's (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Winston
Cup Series Championship.
Powered by custom-engineered cars and backed by their elite racing
teams, they attempt to win races and rack up the points that will
determine the prestigious Series Champion.
Now, a new film takes racing enthusiasts behind the scenes of
the sport, promising to deliver a truly unforgettable big screen
experience, using the IMAX format to bring enthusiasts closer
to the thrills and spills of the track than ever before.
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience examines the science behind the
speed, exploring the means with which the cars are engineered
to sustain extremely high speeds for brutally long stretches of
time while simultaneously addressing very real safety concerns.
The film also travels back in time to touch on the history of
stock car racing, following the sport's evolution from humble
beginnings into the empire it is today.
It is directed by Simon Wincer and narrated by 24s
Kiefer Sutherland who is, himself, a self-confessed NASCAR fan.
According to Wincer: "When you're at the track, the sound
almost trembles through your soul; it's mind numbing. There is
nothing small about NASCAR, and until you actually experience
a race, it's hard to comprehend the scale of this sport. I've
been into sports all my life, and I've never seen anything as
intense as this. It's just extraordinary."
With this in mind, the IMAX format appeared to be the logical
medium for conveying this sense of excitement, as Lorne Orleans
states: "IMAX takes you to places you could never go, whether
that's into outer space or to the top of Mount Everest, and gives
you an experience that you wouldn't have in your normal everyday
Adds Sutherland: "The opportunity to participate in an IMAX®
film is an incredibly exciting endeavor. I don't think there is
another sport or activity that lends itself to The IMAX Experience®
like NASCAR does.
"You get such a visceral reaction from the experience of
seeing an IMAX film, and as a performer, I very much wanted to
be part of this project."
For the most part, US critics tended to agree that the NASCAR
Experience did exactly what it set out to, albeit in not such
adrenaline-packed style as it would have fans believe.
Entertainment Weekly described it as an entertaining,
aficionado-oriented production, while the New York Daily
News felt that this 40-minute film shows off the combined
IMAX/3D experience at its best.
The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, wrote that it
doesn't quite overcome its shameless self-promotion, but
the film will satisfy the Lynyrd Skynyrd set while providing a
decent explanation to those who are baffled by the sport's popularity.
While the Washington Post decided that it is an
interesting behind-the-scenes look at one of the world's most
popular spectator sports.
On a slightly more negative note, however, the Chicago Tribune
felt that true fans (i.e., the people who are most likely
to buy tickets) probably know a lot of this stuff already, and
they might be disappointed by the lack of drama and the brevity
of 3-D racing action.
While Village Voice said that it posits its working-class
supporters not as protagonists but consumers, cheering on their
just-folks race-car heroes for proxy fantasies of high-speed escape
and high-tech goodies.
But the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that if the
words 'Gentlemen, start your engines' set your heart pounding,
this is the Imax experience for you.
And the Los Angeles Times concludes this overview by stating
that in an amazingly compact 47 minutes, veteran director
Simon Wincer outlines the history of the sport, evokes its culture
and packs it with jaw-dropping statistics while never slackening