REVIEW: Go Inside Star Trek Beyond With Barco Escape

Star Trek Beyond has been specially formatted for the new immersive Barco Escape three-screen format. Wondering if you should spend the extra quatloos for the unique experience? Read our review to see what we thought.

Barco Escape has been heavily publicizing the release of Star Trek Beyond in their format, which combines three screens (one main screen in the center surrounded by two screens angled in toward the audience on either side). They say it will make you feel as though you are IN the movie. They say it’s the future of cinema. They say YOU should go see Beyond at one of the (very few) Barco Escape theaters.

Are they right? Here’s what we can tell you.

The Barco Escape trailer for Star Trek Beyond

The Look: Where it works, and where it doesn’t

For the most part, I found that the three Barco screens really did achieve an immersive look and feel. It wasn’t applied to the whole movie, but instead the most suitable scenes were selected for “Barco-ization”. It tended to work best for large, sweeping shots, and I found it worked spectacularly well for the scenes showing off the Yorktown. As the camera flew through, it really felt like being inside the space station – almost like being on an amusement park ride.

Other shots, like a closeup pan of the front of the Enterprise, didn’t work nearly as well. The straight lines of the Big E made it very obvious that the side screens were angled inward and really highlighted the seams between the three screens.

While almost all of the Barco-ized moments utilized the side screens to extend the scene, they took a slightly different approach in one particular instance. Toward the beginning of the film, Captain Kirk and Bones share an emotional scene in which they discuss Kirk’s birthday and Chekov’s choice in liquor. Outside the window is a beautifully rendered view of stars blurring by as the ship flies along at warp speed. For some reason, instead of using the two peripheral screens to extend the scene, they show the view outside the window, which ends up looking more like a couple of screen savers and really distracts from a touching moment.

Besides a couple of missteps, though, I actually really enjoyed the experience. I often found myself wishing more scenes – like a gorgeous shot of the Enterprise warping out of Yorktown station and some wide open establishing shots – had gotten the Barco treatment.

Overall Recommendations

Overall, seeing Star Trek Beyond in Barco Escape definitely added something to the moviegoing experience. And, unlike the complaints that some people have about adapted IMAX and 3D films (oh, the headaches), it definitely doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film.

So, what’s the verdict? Should you see Star Trek Beyond in Barco Escape?

I’d say yes, particularly if you are going for a second viewing after first seeing Beyond on a standard screen. It’s worth seeing what Barco adds to your experience, and, although the majority of the film still plays only on the main screen, those little moments where it hits just right are worth the price of admission.

Pricing varies, but we’ve found that Barco Escape screenings only cost $2-3 more than a standard screening, on average. It’s a new and exciting experience, and the guys at Bad Robot did a fantastic job of adapting the film for Barco’s three screens.

I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed seeing the Yorktown spread across three screens. The scenes really do surround you, and I got giddy at the feeling of being on the space station, as if I was experiencing the engineering wonder, along with Kirk and crew, for the very first time.

Find a Barco Escape theater near you

Looking to get in on the three-screened action? There are capable theaters in the US, Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium, and the U.A.E. Go to to find your local.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Nope. Texas is too far to go.

I hear ya; when the closest screen is several hours away – if I use an airplane – it really makes advertising this format pretty pointless. The need to get it in more cinemas or it will be little more than an interesting experiment for a very few people.

My ranking of screens to see this movie on:
1. Dolby Cinema
2. Barco Escape
3. Non 3D
52471. 3D
2345298239487209. IMAX

Too much visual detail in that movie for IMAX. And since it wasn’t shot that way…

What’s with the big difference between Dolby Cinema and IMAX?

Dolby Cinema is about the audio & visual presentation and uses Atmos for sound and a laser projector for Dolby Vision. Meaning you get deeper blacks and more dynamic colors.
IMAX is about the size of the screen only.

Cool, thanks! I hadn’t heard of Dolby Cinema but that’s likely because the nearest one to me is several hours away… Hopefully they’ll continue expanding. In the meantime, I might need to make a special drive to Atlanta!

Actually, IMAX is NOT about about the size of the screen. It is more about the quality of the image. Most IMAX screens aren’t even as large as standard movie screens from 15 years ago. Precious few are of appropriate IMAX size. Hence, the popular and I think more appropriate name… LIE-max.

You couldn’t be further from the truth,
IMAXwithLaser 3D is vastly superior in both picture and sound presentation.
It’s well known that Dolby visions laser doesn’t produce as bright of a 3D image or as dynamic and deep true to life colors as what IMAX with Laser projects.

Have you seen Beyond in 3D or is that your general opinion on 3D?
STID had some decent 3D conversion but some scenes were screwed up considering that JJ claimed he filmed it with 3D conversion in mind. Like having an out-of-focus foreground of glassware in a bar scene, things like that. Fine for 2D, not for 3D.

I saw Star Trek last night, and thought the Barco Escape was horrible. All the effects shots were zoomed in to create the widescreen image, you are actually seeing LESS not more when it fills the edges. You could clearly see the resolution drop, the film got much more grainy, and the action became hard to follow at times due to so much of the top and bottom being cut off. When Scotty jumps out of the ship to catch the edge of the cliff, for example, you only see just a sliver of the cliff at the bottom of the screen.
It may be that a film shot entirely with three cameras creates a great new experience for Barco screenings, but this Star Trek showing is a disaster.

I saw it in Barco. The angles made it look weird. It only worked on VERY few scenes. Make no mistake… The scenes where it worked it was pretty cool. But it was distracting and irritating more often than not. What would help is if they eliminated the angle of the straight lines flowing from one screen onto the next. That took you out of the immersion. Plus, it really works best if you towards the front. If you normally sit that close (I do for today’s tiny movie screens) that’s fine. Not sure how effective it might be further back. I would imagine the angle issue would be more noticeable.
And when I say angle, I’m not talking about the screen angle. I’m talking a thing on screen that is a straight line like the edge of a star ship or a straight side walk suddenly makes a 35 degree shift at the screen seam.

Barco Escape sort of reminds me of an old theater that was on the far Eastside of Indianapolis; it was a giant curved screen with special lenses that made the picture look good from most angles and 70mm was spectacular.
It would seem with everything going digital, and with 4k picture becoming the norm, this could be adapted rather easily to new theaters without the clunky 3 screen with slits on the screen.
Just thinking out loud for the entrepreneurial sorts out there.

I saw this movie at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. 3D IMAX. I loved it. For some reason, their screen seems light years beyond other IMAX screens. Are there different types of IMAX screens?

I’m jealous. I live in Israel and although originally announced for July 21 it was rescheduled to Aug 22. And the nearest 3D IMAX is several hours from where I live. Which didn’t stop me from going to see STID but it’s a long drive for a movie.

Most IMAX screens are smaller than the name suggests. They tend to vary in size but one thing you can be sure of… If IMAX was added to a cineplex that already existed it will for sure be a much smaller screen. They just don’t have the room to make a proper sized IMAX. You have a better chance (although it is still far from 100%) of seeing a decent sized screen from a stand alone cineplex that had room to add on the IMAX screen. The best bet would be a stand alone IMAX. Which do exist but are very rare. And even then not all of them are all that large. In the Bay Area there are only two IMAX screens of sufficient size among the dozens of Lie-MAX screens.

OMG, I ALSO saw it at the Chinese Theater in 3D IMAX. THat was the first time we saw the new IMAX there since the renovation and man STUNNING is the only word I can think of. We saw the first THursday night showing of it and I could not believe how fantastic that screen was. I was in awe of it lol. And yeah there are definitely different types of screens. “IMAX” is kind of loose terms these days of exactly what that means but this one is supposedly the third biggest one in the country so yes its very, very big. ;)

The last time I seen a Trek film at the Chinese theater was actually Nemesis 14 years ago so it was great to see another Trek film there again. I felt we had to with the 50th anniversary. Sadly though the first showing still wasn’t completely full. But I thought seeing it there was worth every dollar.

IMAX screens are being refitted with ultra-bright laser projectors, which keep the image from dimming through the 1-2 punch of a huge screen to illuminate and 3D taking its bite. It will reach all of them soon but has already hit Los Angeles’. Saw “Civil War” on it and I agree it’s a big difference.

I’m glad someone enjoyed it; I thought it was a train wreck and commented as much in an earlier post about it. The screens are tiny to allow real estate for the side screens to slightly wing out, meaning they only extend ten rows or so into the theater. I sat in what I guess is the sweet spot, center inside the “U,” but most people end up sitting completely outside of it. That’s not being surrounded in anything, it’s just watching a movie sideways. Even being inside the “U” isn’t being surrounded by the film because again, the screens are so small. Oh! Because theaters are 95% stadium seating now, the smaller screens are also positioned unnaturally high on their walls. So in the “good” seats you are surrounded by black walls and looking up at the film. Worse, the side screens wash out the image on the main (too-small) screen. In one sense it’s no disaster because the additional material is so superfluous. Extra stars whiz by. The balcony/window where Spock learns the news of Ambassador Spocks death is extended in the master. The close-ups though aren’t extended, which is jarring — as though children got to the 3-screen light switch and were flicking it on and off during the scene. Worse, near as I could tell the set extension didn’t match the contours of the actual balcony/window set as revealed in the close-ups; they went with what was simplest to execute. Along those lines all ambitious FX sequences are just blow-ups of the regular film. Leaving the image cropped, grainy, soft-focus, and 2/3 sideways. They do this for all the biggest sequences. In theory this could change over time but in practice never will. The FX unit of major films on tight deadlines are not going to triple their workload to provide actual 3-screen extensions for a tiny sliver of the market, and without the actual productions digital assets recreating them through third parties is not feasible. Nor will this ever catch on widely enough to inspire a pipeline of native productions. Or catch on at all really. A movie watched with two giant seams in the screen and 2/3 of it sideways is not an improvement on any level. It’s a unique experience for the handful of people who get the “good” seats, but not one anyone in their right mind would want to have twice. How Escape got out of Barco’s “innovation center” and into the real world with no sane hand pulling the plug is a real mystery, but at least they got the name right.

Avoid at all costs–it kills the film, which is MUCH better when not seen in Barco.

I live in New Jersey, and it says the closest theater is in Minnesota. You’d think there’d be one in NYC at least, right?

I wonder if Barco actually hurt Beyond’s box office. It’s been the only option for Trek at the nearest theatre for about a month now – it costs close to $18, the theatre is small and it doesn’t really work for this film (it’s dim and doesn’t have great resolution to begin with – and there are scenes where the camera is zooming all over the place and it’s tough to tell what’s happening – and the split screens only add to the confusion).

So I wonder if peopke look at it and go, “I’ll wait for Netflix.”