Sunday, January 27, 2008

All the Colors Came Out

Despite the weather outside, it was a beautiful day up in Reading today. I braved the elements so I could see U23D, which if you haven't heard, is the 3D IMAX film that captures the U2 Vertigo tour in all its glory. And oh man, does it ever. From the very first frame to the last, you are right there in the action. I mean, I've seen U2 live before. Technically, I suppose you could say that was 3D. But wow. This was, to make the obvious reference, even better than the real thing. First of all, it's a huge movie — in sight and sound. Bono is already a bigger-than-life figure, but this is crazy. And the bass literally shook the seats. Secondly, the camerawork is just amazing. Add in the 3D effects and you have a film experience that can't be duplicated. The crowd shots look so layered. The stadium, so deep. There were times when I thought people seated in front of me were up and dancing, but they were really on screen and not in the theater. Sure there are some gratuitous guitar-in-camera shots (mostly courtesy of Adam Clayton), but really, this is a rock show filmed with a minimum of cheese. It's the technology that makes it look even better, not anything the band is doing differently. For example, nearly every shot of Larry Mullen's drum kit is impressive. The set list includes 14 songs, and all are performed with the typical gusto, but for me, "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" were highlights. The band plays "The Fly" during its encore, and it's notable, I think, more for the superimposed effects than for the music itself. If U23D doesn't exactly duplicate the concert-going experience — I felt sort of wimpy just sitting there and not applauding or cheering or singing along — then that's alright. It the next-best-thing to actually being there and it's a damned cool experience. I fully intend to go back and see the new Rolling Stones film, Shine a Light, when it plays on the IMAX screen. (All this can be yours too. Click here to find a theater showing U23D.)

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