Attack of the senses

IMAX is cinematic sensory overload — the screen is wider and higher than the human eye’s field of view, delivering what some may call an “immersive” movie experience, writes Alex Brooks for Daily Telegraph’s Best Weekend section.

Imax for kids in SydneyA silver eye-shaped tower with IMAX emblazoned across it winks over Darling Harbour.

This odd-shaped building has glinted and shimmered in the harsh Sydney sun since 1996, proclaiming it holds the “world’s largest screen”, a 34m x 29m curved wall of white.

IMAX is cinematic sensory overload — the screen is wider and higher than the human eye’s field of view, delivering what some may call an “immersive” movie experience. I call it motion sickness.

My kids, of course, love it.

The IMAX is a unique cinematic adventure which raises the stakes for a generation which has grown up with big screen TVs in every lounge room.

Watching a 3D movie at IMAX is positively absurd, as the entire audience sit with silly plastic goggles on their faces and little kids literally try to catch the 3D objects which appear to burst out of the gigantic screen.

We visit IMAX again to catch the latest instalment of Hunger Games, a bloodthirsty young adult story of kids who are forced to kill each other for the entertainment of merciless politicians.

My kids have read the Hunger Games books and while I have a pang of doubt as to whether my youngest son should see an M-rated flick, the 10-year-old convinces me that watching Prime Minister Tony Abbott decimate education funding on the news every night is more hazardous to his impressionable young mind.

“Katniss Everdeen totally has to kill people or be killed. She doesn’t kill just for fun, like they do in M-rated video games or the Liberal Party,” he pleads.

I hop online to buy tickets — having been burned before when I thought I could simply turn up to the IMAX and buy a ticket to the next session — and choose a family ticket, which saves between $8-$10 on the whole expensive exercise.

IMAX tickets don’t come cheap. I wonder if the yellow and black safety squares on the outside of the IMAX building are to warn incomers of impending feelings of seasickness when they walk into the auditorium and lose all spatial awareness after forking out the $32 entry fee for adults and $23 for kids.

Children under the age of three are technically free at IMAX, but there are stern warnings on the IMAX website not to bring youngsters, who tend not to sit still for long periods of time.

Popcorn bastes the air with its buttery smell as you enter IMAX, but there’s no need to be lured into the expensive snacks. If you show your IMAX ticket downstairs at Gelatissimo, you can get a discount.

Those ice creams are well worth it.

As is the IMAX: it’s the movies on steroids. What’s not to love about that?Alex Brooks is executive editor of Kidspot.com.au, where you can find thousands of events and things to do with kids

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Things to do & travel