U2 3DDirected by Catherine Owens and Mark PellingtonStarring Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.Rated G
Let me start by saying that my relationship with U2 is casual at best. When my peers were freaking out over the release of The Joshua Tree in 1987, I was deep into Zeppelin and catching as many Dead shows as I could. But during my tenure as a mainstream music journalist, it became impossible to avoid U2, and I began to, at least, appreciate what they're about. Yes, Bono is the most inflated rock star ever, but not without cause. His band is one of the biggest of all time because it's made up of talented musicians who write epic songs about love and life, put on incredible concerts and ambitiously want to change the world. It's not unreasonable to be a Bono hater, but it's hard to deny that he and his mates are really, really good at what they do (which, of course, only makes the haters hate them more).
So they're the perfect band to kick off what will soon be a new wave of 3D concert films. Shot with an extraordinary number of cameras during the band's “Vertigo” tour, there's never been a concert film like this before, because the technology simply hasn't existed and no band has had the resources and rabid fan base to create something like it. And, the band aside, the experience of U2 3D is really cool.
The 3D effect is extraordinary—there are moments when you feel as though people sitting in front of you are waving their arms, before you realize it's part of the movie. And even more impressive are the shots from the stage, when you get the awe-inspiring sense of the magnitude of these concerts (the film was shot during the South American and Mexico City legs of the tour, in those unbelievably large fútbol stadiums). These are enormous events, and the 3D effect actually gives a sense of what it's like to have the spotlight on you in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. No, you might not play the axe like The Edge, or have bassist Adam Clayton's wide stance, or Bono's ridiculous showmanship, but U2 3D does give you, for fleeting moments, an idea of what their point of view must be like, at least in performance mode.
Like any concert, U2 3D has its slower moments, and yes, it hits most of the concert-film clichés, but one reason U2 is so popular is that they do those clichés better than anyone, and the film revitalizes the genre by really taking advantage of the new technology. In short, it rocks. This is very different than going to a concert, because it's truly a cinematic experience. It doesn't and won't replace seeing a band live, but it's unique and new, seriously immersive and part of what's going to keep the cinema experience alive. Sure, it's easy to be down on Bono and the boys, but if you're not, it's worth seeing this on an IMAX screen. Or if you just want to reach out and give Bono a smack upside the head, well, this is as close as you're ever going to get.
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View the U2 3D trailer here.