BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Omnimax Theater at the Cincinnati Museum Center sure picked
the right giant-screen movie to introduce a price hike of 55
cents a ticket ($6.50, $4.50 children). Special Effects, opening
Saturday, is wicked-cool.
The film is a happy marriage of format and subject matter. Special
effects are, after all, meant to be seen big, and ''big'' scarcely
describes the seven-story dome at the Museum Center.
The movie opens with a brand-new King Kong sequence - including
a spectacular monkey's-eye-view fall from skyscraper to pavement
- created specifically for this film.
That opening - which combines modern mastery with homage to early
cinema pioneers - sets a tone for the film, which includes several
quick samples of old films that inspired the men (and few women)
creating high-tech illusions for today's blockbusters.
And, man oh man, what illusions they are. Narrator John Lithgow
delivers brief but clear explanations of how color, form, light,
depth and motion shape our perceptions, then the film shows how
movie-makers manipulate those factors to achieve the incredible.
For example, remember those alien fireballs rolling down city
streets in Independence Day? Urban models were mounted sideways
on a wall. When they burned, the rising flames were filmed from
above. Voila, horizontal fire.
Special Effects also takes us on a dune-buggy ride through the
Arizona desert with the crew shooting new footage for the 1997
re-release of Star Wars, then shows a quick glimpse of the finished
scene, complete with computer-animated creatures.
While the film focuses chiefly on Star Wars, Independence Day,
Jumanji and Kazaam, it pays its respects to such ground-breaking
films as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, The Mask and
Director Ben Burtt and company clearly know their business, and
with Special Effects they graciously and entertainingly open
the door for the rest of us to join them where, as the movie
says, ''Anything can happen.''
IF YOU GO:
(unrated; suitable for children) Narrated by John Lithgow. 38
minutes. At Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater at Cincinnati