First Reaction to U2 3D - Truly Exhilarating!
by Alex Billington
January 9, 2008
Earlier tonight I was invited to the grand Luxor hotel in Las Vegas (the giant pyramid) to view a special screening of U2 3D. It was an interesting experience, as it was hardly crowded and the IMAX theater at the Luxor is quite odd (they have a lap bar that comes down like a roller coaster to prevent you from falling over the edge). My thoughts: holy shit that was INCREDIBLE! I wanted to "ride" it again, and by that, I mean re-experience the entire thing from the start immediately after finishing - it was that exhilarating. I know I always gush about movies, but for those who know me, saying that about a 3D movie and saying that about a band I'm not a big fan of is quite incredible.
Now let's get some things straight here before I start. Since Superman Returns came out in 2006, I've been publicly known as a hater of 3D. I think (or maybe thought?) that it's generally a poorly done gimmick that isn't really the future. Until it's actually done very, very well, I don't think it's a worthwhile experience. The first time my opinion on 3D changed was late last year with Beowulf. Because the movie was entirely CGI and essentially made in 3D, it looked great and the experience was (for once) enhanced. Besides that, I still do not believe that 3D is the future.
U2 3D is a full 85-minute U2 concert shown in its entirety in 3D. The footage was shot using an extensive number of 3D cameras on U2's Vertigo Tour in South America. Most of its footage is from the Sao Paulo show in Brazil. While I can't recall the full set list, it included a number of U2's biggest songs, including Vertigo, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and New Years Day (my own three favorites). It was a full-fledge 85 minute experience and didn't feel like they skimped at all. Of course they probably didn't play the more obscure songs that U2 fans may know and love, but for both U2 fans AND non-U2 fans alike, they delivered one hell of a show.
The best way to describe the experience is that it's simply like being at the concert. It was incredibly loud, as loud as being there (a very good thing), and visually stunning. It wasn't like standing in the audience surrounded by sweaty fans, it was as if you were flying in and out of the stage and all around, getting the fully immersive U2 experience. And the 3D topped it all off. I truly felt the energy and power of U2 live, from the fans to the way Bono acts. And I think all the fans and those who have actually seen U2 live will agree - they really captured that experience.
There's one thing I've got to really point out. Whoever did the sound mix, both at the concert and especially for the movie, deserves a damn award. Sound mixing really annoys me when there are problems, when it's not loud, or not clear. And at concerts it's always the worst (the songs don't even sound remotely like the ones you have memorized in your mind). In U2 3D it was perfect. The bass was rumbling and the sound was exhilarating. It just blew me away, I was being rocked out to the max while sitting in my chair. If it weren't for the lap bars (damn the Luxor!) I would've been standing up and cheering!
I don't think I'm alone in saying that I wanted to go back and watch it again after it ended - people are going to see this more than once. They're going to come out of the theater and go right back in. By the time you get to the end, since there was no energy wasted (like actually being at the concert), you want to go back and hear the power of all those songs that the beginning again! At least that's how I felt.
U2 3D premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in a couple of weeks and hits IMAX 3D and Digital 3D theaters on January 23rd. I will definitely suggest this to anyone who is a U2 fan or looking for a great experience. The 3D does not at all distract and definitely enhances the movie. The only annoying parts were when they overlaid two different camera angles that were differing 3D layers and it would be a strain on the eyes and confusing. But besides that, this movie is absolutely invigorating and mind-blowing. It is THE live U2 experience captured on screen and I can't wait to see what other concerts come next.