Apollo 13 The IMAX Experience is a true breakthrough for the 35-year-old Imax Corporation. This marks the first time a Hollywood live-action feature has been remastered for the giant IMAX 15/70 format using the company's proprietary DMRTM technology, which digitally removes the graininess that would normally result from such a blowup. The result is an unqualified success: a huge, sharp picture that enhances the spectacle of Ron Howard's Oscar-winning 1995 movie, but doesn't detract from more intimate close-up moments. Apollo 13, the story of the ill-fated American moon mission that held the world in suspense in 1970, was a judicious choice for this first DMR release, since it's a good fit for both Imax's commercial and educational venues. But the visual impact here should pique the interest of plenty of other Hollywood filmmakers looking for a second life for their productions. Already, Star Wars: Episode II is being remastered and is set for a November release. (The only hitch: The giant reels at present can only accommodate two hours, requiring a new edit for longer films like Apollo 13 and Star Wars.)

Certain moments in Apollo 13 seem like they were made for IMAX: The overhead shots of the launching platform become downright vertiginous, and you can now see every detail of what's going on in the space capsule of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and his crew as they hurtle back toward Earth (including the water droplets that condense in their freezing craft). But the biggest surprise is that the more quiet performance moments don't suffer; this well-crafted true drama of heroism and ingenuity remains consistently compelling at several stories high.

-Kevin Lally