The old stereotypes of 3D movies appear to be in order for those attending the advance media showing of U2’s new 3D film at London’s IMAX. As people file in, they’re handed the kind of face devouring special glasses that suggest someone should’ve gone to Specsavers. Functionality should usurp design, but this is ridiculous…
Luckily that’s where the disappointment ends. Filmed at shows in Mexico and South America, U2 3D is an amazing experience from the outset. As the opening titles flood away from the screen there’s a definite feeling of claustrophobia as they convincingly edge ever closer. Opting to avoid any backstage footage or interviews (bar a minute of pre-gig atmosphere) is a wise move, making this combination of 3D visuals and U2’s greatest hits a captivating combination.
As the band commence with Vertigo, the compulsory opening song flying pint hurtles back through the crowd, provoking flinches of avoidance amongst the cinema. Seeing Bono’s stage postures sizing up to the height of several double-decker buses is surreal – especially as one moment feels like he’s about to tenderly caress your face. Being able to visualise the depth of the stage and the sheer scale of the gig is fascinating; particularly as Bono’s ramp walking appears to create a distance between himself and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. equal to that between Camden’s Barfly and Electric Ballroom. Footage shot from the audience is also atmospheric, with the surround sound recreating the stadium gig atmosphere minus the fresh breeze, sweaty odour and achy legs.
The finer details astound as much as the bigger picture. Close ups of The Edge’s strumming are almost as intimate as seeing a band playing in your local toilet venue while the blank faces of the security are a reminder that people can remain unmoved by such spectacle.
Sonically the film has all the clarity that you’d expect from such a high profile, high budget concert film. At London’s IMAX it’s loud, but not prohibitedly so, being of festival intensity rather than the fuller volume of a club venue.
This isn’t just a film for U2 devotees either. At around 85 minutes, the set is punchy and the footage so scintillating that only the most ardent U2 haters could feign disinterest. After all, one day hopefully all concert films will look like this.