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An Enthusiastic Review Of U2-3D!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. And I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen this once already, and I’m seeing it again on Saturday before I write about it. I’ll just say that it is overwhelming, and one of the most remarkable sensory experiences I’ve had in recent memory. But enough from me. Today’s spy has a lot to say, and he says it pretty darn well:

Hey, guys-- I've never submitted a review to your site before, but since I didn't see anything posted in the last couple of days since I saw U2 3D in person, I decided that my fellow movie geeks needed to know about this movie. Thanks to some really cool friends with connections, I was able to get in to see the first advance screening of U2 3D, which was held at the Chinese Theatre here in Hollywood. (This was in one of the six newer theaters, not the original Grauman's movie palace.) It felt interesting being probably the only U2 fan in the audience, which was comprised mostly of those who worked on the film, or studio execs, DOPs and post house people who were interested in experiencing what we were promised was a breakthrough in 3D technology. It was. U2 3D is the most amazing 3D experience I've ever had. Ever. Yes, I have to be honest... U2 is my favorite band. But even if you hate U2 as much as Henry Rollins does (and even as a die-hard U2 fan, his rant against the band is one of the funniest things I've ever heard), I still think it's worth experiencing this film, because the 3D technology used here is going to be the wave of the future that James Cameron and other directors will implement in their upcoming movies. Seeing U2 3D has only made me more eager to see Avatar. What makes U2 3D so impressive is that it does what prior 3D productions have been unable to do--to fully convince you that you are within a real physical space with real depth. The problem with prior 3D movies is that you're always aware that your eyes are being "tricked" into a three-dimensional experience--there's just something that's a bit "off" about it. Either there is a feeling that the depth is being created by a series of flat planes, one behind the other, or the perception of 3D is shattered whenever you move your head too much, once again reminding you that you're wearing glasses and looking at a screen. In U2 3D, there are none of those issues. There just aren't. It feels that immediate and that real. And honestly, I don't understand how the technology works so well. The glasses themselves don't look like they have any special filters or colors. They're just slightly opaque. And when you take them off, the screen only looks slightly blurry. But yet, you put them on, and the experience is all-encompassing. National Geographic had something to do with the making of the film, so perhaps they developed the technology with the other production entities associated with the movie. According to the Q&A session after the film, the 3D technology was still being developed even as the film was being edited in post-production, so that's how new it is. And if it's this good now, imagine what it will become when Cameron gets his hands on this. Okay, so that's the excited techno-geek side of me talking. But how was the movie... as a movie? If you've followed U2 for the entirety of their career like I have, it's been obvious that the band has been searching to create the perfect in-concert document which captures who they truly are as a live act. The creation of Rattle and Hum was due to the band being embarrassed by their antics in Under a Blood Red Sky. Rattle and Hum was fairly decent, insofar as a movie is concerned. But it was more of a travelogue and less of a live concert experience. Since then, U2 has released a slew of live concerts on DVD, the best of which I think is Elevation: Live from Boston, thanks to some great directing and use of various and interesting camera angles (which you can watch isolated in their entirety if you want--a nice bonus). In terms of performance and musical selection, I'm still partial to the Elevation DVD, but their performance here is still balls-to-the-wall, and because U2 3D is so all-encompassing, it's just an entirely different experience, and as a result, far more rewarding. The concert itself was filmed on the recent Vertigo Tour primarily in Latin America, and the energy of the audience is that much more intense. There's a moment at the end of the film where Bono and Larry Mullen, Jr. share a bit of small talk (which we can't hear) but it's clearly in reference to how amazed they are at the audience reaction. In fact, there's a point at the end of "With or Without You" that Bono breaks into a big smile, clearly taken aback by how loud and in unison the audience is. One thing I should point out. This is not merely a document of a concert. There is a really artistic mixture of camera angles throughout, and the film pushes into some really cutting-edge creativity on "The Fly," as words and letters rain down from the sky--in front of and behind the band members. That sequence alone is worth the price of admission. After the film was over, it was revealed that although the director was a novice, she comes from an artistic background in sculpting, so she already thinks in a three-dimensional way, which the film's DOP admitted was the right approach to the material. Having seen the Vertigo Tour in person, I remember the emphasis on social change, human rights and the ONE campaign. U2 3D instead focuses on the music and the interplay between band and audience, and I think that was a wise move. Look, I love what Bono has to say sometimes, but even I appreciate the fact that they turned down his Messiah Meter™ to about 1 on a scale of 10 for this film. He has a few words to share with the audience, but it's short, sweet and makes the point without being overly ponderous. The "Coexist" theme overall is pushed a little too hard, though, especially over the ending credits. But that's a minor complaint. The message itself is still valid. If you're a die-hard U2 fan, you will absolutely go nuts over this film and will want to re-experience it over and over. If you're not a die-hard U2 fan, but like some of their music, you'll still enjoy U2 3D, as the music selection is pretty familiar, even to casual listeners. And if you can't stand U2 but love technology, I still think there's plenty here to appreciate from a filmmaking standpoint. And as I've said repeatedly, the 3D experience is unlike anything I've ever experienced. If you see fit to use this, sign me as The Refugee.
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