Unos, Dos, Tres, 3D!!!

Last night I was able to catch the new U2 3D movie in the IMAX theater at the Smithsonian. If you’re a fan of the band or of innovations in video technology (the film bills itself as the “first ever live action digital 3D film”) check it out while it’s still in theaters.

U2 3D was filmed in Buenos Aires when the band was on its Vertigo tour a few years ago. While it can’t recreate the entire concert experience–because there’s nothing like being at a show and singing along with the music–it’s an excellent substitute for less than a quarter of the price. And in one sense, the movie is better than being at a show, because you get the full 3D effect from angles you could never achieve in real life, such as swooping down on Bono from the top of the stadium. The band looks great and the film remembers that this is a concert movie, so the music comes first and it’s mercifully short on the “hey you’re watching a 3D movie!” gimmicks you’d see at an amusement park 3D theater. But when the movie does invoke 3D tricks, it does so convincingly. The best examples are in the “Love and Peace (or else)/Sunday Bloody Sunday” segment where the band walks out into the crowd, giving a sense of how packed the stadium was, and during the encore “The Fly” (really!) where the filmmakers pull out all the stops and bombard the viewer.

A set list can be found on the film’s wikipedia page. That brings up my main criticism of the film: it’s too short. I have the U2 – Vertigo 2005 – Live From Chicago DVD from the same tour, and it’s much longer than the 85 minute 3D film. Naturally, some great songs were cut to make the running time and they are missed. The consensus from the folks I went with was that “Mysterious Ways” and “Elevation” needed to be added. And for the sensitive, Bono does his politics thing in the movie as well, including donning the famous “coexist” headband and having a reading from the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights on torture. Sorry Ann Coulter.

U2 3D is now playing in select theaters and gradually gaining wider release. I recommend the movie. Get your tickets in advance, because most screenings, at least in this area, have been sold out.

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