One of the better large-format films ever released, "To The Limit" isn't entirely successful, but it is often a mixture of spectacular, epic photography and minute, fascinating detail. This 1989 IMAX feature takes a look at the desire for human beings to push their bodies to the limit in persuit of sports or the arts.
In the first case, we meet California rock-climber Tony Yaniro, who consistently finds new and more challenging ways to climb the cliffs in Yosemite State Park. The cinematography during this section is dizzying, as the camera takes the viewer to spectacular heights and seems to dangle in mid-air as we watch Tony try to accomplish his goals of getting further up than before. While most IMAX films would have stopped there, "To The Limit" goes further to educate the audience, as the film zeroes in on the internal organs, taking us on a tour of the functions of the body when intense physical activities push it to go further, faster.
The next segment focuses on world-champion skier Maria Walliser as she trains for a race. The photography in this segment is exceptional, and often puts the viewer into the perspective of the athlete flying down the mountain. Once again, we learn more about how Maria's training has improved and heightened her physical abilities, and how certain senses - her hearing, for example - guides her in precise fashion down the mountain.
Finally, we see Nina Ananiashvili of the Bolshoi Ballet Company. This segment is the least informative of the three, but still provides some interesting tidbits and enjoyable cinematography. Overall, this was a very good film - well-paced, informative and entertaining. Great visuals, as well.
VIDEO: "To The Limit" is presented by Image Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film's image quality in the anamorphic widescreen presentation was generally excellent. Sharpness and detail remained exceptional throughout the entire film, with the picture consistently appearing crystal clear and well-defined.
The picture did show a little bit of grain and a tiny bit of shimmer, but no compression artifacts or edge enhancement was seen. The print appeared crisp, with a little bit of grain, but no noticable debris or other wear. Colors remained bright, vivid and well-saturated throughout.
AUDIO: "To The Limit" is presented by Image Entertainment in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film's soundtrack was not one of the more aggressive IMAX soundtracks I've heard, tending to focus mainly on narration and music. The film's classical score is really the element given the most focus besides the narration, as the surrounds often provide reinforcement for the score. The skiing section does provide some more distinct sound effects from the rear speakers. Dialogue, score and narration remained crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: A limited amount of supplements are included: trailers for other IMAX releases are offered, as well as some text notes.
As with several other new IMAX re-releases/re-releases from IMAX, the big new supplement included in this 2-DVD set for "To The Limit" is the second DVD, which includes the film in WMV High Definition. This can only be played on a PC DVD-ROM drive. Requirements include Windows XP, 2.4GHZ processor,64MB video card,384MB of RAM and a 16-bit sound card.
Final Thoughts: "To The Limit" shows three involving personalities trying to take their bodies to another level in scenes with stunning cinematography, and combines those moments with looks inside the human body to follow the changes that take place as the human engines push harder. Image Entertainment's DVD provides good audio/video quality. Recommended.