It's a 48-minute advertisement for mass obsession that has no time for irony or skepticism, and halfway through, the non-committed may start feeling a bit carsick. But for anyone who savors the scent of burning rubber and understands what a restrictor plate is, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience will be sheer joy, the closest most civilians will ever get to buckling up inside a big-time stock car and slamming the pedal to the metal. The visceral thrills of IMAX -- gigantic screen, thunderous sound, total atmosphere -- are well-known by now, but they've rarely been deployed to such all-encompassing effect. Slip on your Italian-made 3D goggles, settle into your seat, and suddenly you are Jeff Gordon, screaming around the Daytona super-speedway at 185 miles an hour. As with most IMAX productions, the visual depth of field here is far greater than the dramatic. But once director Simon Wincer gets past the obligatory bows to NASCAR founder Bill France and Saint Dale of Earnhardt and completes his visits to the garage, the film becomes Happy Hour itself, an all-out wallow in the high-octane excitement of Talladega and Martinsville as experienced by the drivers and their millions of race-crazed fans. This is what IMAX was born to do.
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NASCAR 3D opens Friday, March 12, at the 350-seat IMAX Theater in the United Artists Colorado Center, 2000 South Colorado Boulevard. There will be ten shows daily, beginning at 10 a.m. (A hint for IMAX 3D newcomers: For the best visual impact, try to get seats far back in the theater's center section.) Call 1-800-326-3264, ext. 529, for information.