U2 3D

U2 3D


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Odds on it was going to be U2, having consistently embraced emerging technologies to further the audio-visual experience for their legions of fans. Now the stadium showmeisters deliver the first rock concert film in Imax 3D.

If you’re not one of those fans, the prospect of seeing a 30ft Bono looming over you will undoubtedly leave you cold. If you are a fan, or enjoy new cinematic encounters, this is an intermittently awesome experience.

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Directors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington filmed the band on the South American leg of their global Vertigo tour, wisely sticking to the concerts with no backstage musings getting in the way. Ground-breaking camera work, mostly achieved by taking revolutionary digital 3ality cameras and breaking ground with them, captures some stunning, roving images of the musicians and enormous crowds. Ok, fore-grounded microphone stands consistently come out the crispest, but with slowly tracking or headily sweeping camera shots any number of sequences stand out, in all senses.

Larry Mullen drumming amongst the crowd, innumerable lighters and mobile phones waving, refracting light blooms, wisping smoke effects, shots of Bono mixed with a huge backdrop animation, shoulder-hoisted fans in the foreground - all show off the true potential and benefits of 3D film as the group run through a set list that takes in most of their well-known singles. Making maximum use of the superior Imax sound system, this is perhaps the most fitting cinematic home for footage of the immense stadiums and the band’s huge sets. Despite Bono’s grating preponderance for fey messiah posing and irritatingly waving his hands into the camera, I got a shiver when Sunday, Bloody, Sunday kicked in and their rendition of The Fly, complete with text graphics flying towards and around you, is a visually overwhelming experience.

U2 3D shows that the technology is now good enough for 3D to be a proper film experience rather than just a gimmick. Now that there are enough Imax theatres around the world to make it a viable venture, this and other 3D films, such as the recent Beowulf, introduce intriguing filmic premises. We can now feel the image encroach upon us, more immediately imagine it reaching out to bridge the space between the screen and the audience. The viewed and viewer, spectator and image, the seen and seeing are more intimate and embroiled. Never is this more accentuated here than in Owens and Pellington’s frequent montages, where three edited sequences are blended together not just on the screen, but virtually in layers before and away from it as well. The distance between the screen and seat is no longer a separating void, more an extended area of relationship. Mise-en-space, as it were. That said, it’s only rock and roll - but I like it.

Is watching this film better than standing at the concert? Of course not. Is it better than watching a standard concert film? Definitely.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2008
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The Irish mega-band take it to the Imax.
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Director: Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington

Starring: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr

Year: 2008

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


Sundance 2008

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