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Sphere’s ‘Postcard’ is about Earth, and out of this world

Updated October 7, 2023 - 7:38 pm

This movie about Earth might be more convincing than the source material.

“Postcard From Earth” opened Friday night at The Sphere, set to seat 5,000 ticket-holders. Darren Aronofsky said he would take audiences on a world tour, touching every continent. He has. But he’s done more. He’s taken us out of our heads, reconsidering the possibilities of filmmaking in this immense globe.

In “Postcard,” your seats vibrate as elephants lumber past. It fills with the scent of citrus. You feel the occasional cool breeze. You become dizzy, at times, watching a rock-climber thousands of feet up, clinging unharnessed to a towering formation.

A praying mantis is shown as large as a Tyrannosaurus rex. You swim with the sharks, or feel like it, and sprint alongside a lion in the African wilderness.

The show is rightfully described as a “multi-sensory experience.” It’s a first for Aronofsky, who directed “The Whale,” “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” and took on The Sphere largely because it was a planet-sized investment in art, rather than sports.

True. The only competition in “Postcard” is the wild horses racing across the country terrain.

The plot is centered on a pair of Adam and Eve-fashioned characters who disembark Earth on a spacecraft. A pair of other-worldly voices, male and female, explain whence they came, and they are soon returned to their gorgeous home planet.

The film opens with a traditional theater screen, as if a super-sized IMAX experience. “Postcard” then blossoms to cover the theater’s entire interior. The display of amazing images shot on the Big Sky camera system was developed at Big Dome, The Sphere prototype in Burbank.

The single-lens camera Studios says can capture 16K x 16K images, which, based on the “Postcard” experience, is as sharp as real life. Some of the motion re-created in the film will inevitably make some Sphere-goers dizzy.

Ticket-holders are warned visual effects might “aggravate certain medical or physical conditions.” As always, read the fine print. A piece of advice: If you’re planning a dinner-and-a-show night involving “Postcard,” go with dinner first, then show.

As promised, Sphere’s audio system can deliver sound at a specific location, so audience members feel sounds are present even in the next seat, even as the source is far away. An elephant’s snort, the trotting of a galloping zebra, is right in your ear.

Aronofsky has instilled more than just a compelling audio/visual art piece. There is a message in “Postcard,” warning of reckless consumption. Reminders of natural, and man-made, beauty are prevalent.

“The Earth was a kaleidoscope of life,” the female narrator says, speaking about our habitat in the past tense. “We raised monuments, inspired by the monumental glories of our home.”

Aronofsky is reminding us to care for our environment. He wants generations to enjoy Earth’s trappings, and one day even a sequel to this adventurous world tour.

Tied to the ‘Experience’

“Postcard” is but a component of a larger concept of “The Sphere Experience.” This covers the next production in The Sphere, whatever it will be. The vast Atrium lobby is itself a pre-show “Sphere Experience” production.

The show is available prior to “Postcard” performances. “The Sphere Experience” starts as doors open. The format is to spend the first part of the visit with the ‘bots, then continue to “Postcard.”

In the Atrium, we run into the five versions of the robot Aura, placed atop platforms throughout the space. They are described as “humanoid,” and would be more human-like if they were outfitted in futuristic jumpsuits, or something similar. Someone needs to draw up some sketches for Aura. Just a thought, which I came up with when I ran into Stitched exec Sam Glaser at the show.

Anyway, these Auras provide sessions on aspects of human behavior: connection, creativity, innovation and productivity. They are spellbinding, robotic creatures, addressing guests in an AI-styled conversation.

One asked me during a tour last week of my favorite U2 song. I answered, “Vertigo.” Aura said, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Funny. Aura could do 20 minutes at Brad Garrett’s club.

Aura leads guests through an interactive demo of the Sphere Immersive Sound system. Folks stand on different circles to experience specific instruments in a single piece of music.

The Atrium show is — similar to everything else about The Sphere — unique, next-level and worth the trip around the globe.

Cool Hang Alert

A pairing from Naughty Ladies Saloon at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur. San Fernando Band, with classic rock and R&B to current pop hits, is 8 p.m. Friday. Souled Out, songs from the Soul Train era, is 8 p.m. Oct. 14. No cover.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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