So here's the thing.
I would like to go to a U2 concert some day. Not that I'm a huge U2 fan - I own a couple of albums that I picked up cheap, and while I like them, I would probably at best only know the chorus to even their best-known songs. I know which one Bono is, but would have difficulty even remembering the names of the other three without looking it up, let alone recognising them or knowing who plays which instrument. But I do enjoy their music when I hear it.
No, the reason I would want to go to a U2 concert is basically because it's a U2 concert. And U2 have an incredible reputation when it comes to mind-blowing concerts. Basically, from what I hear, they basically seem to put on the best rock concerts of any band. Unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible to get tickets to a U2 concert, so I'm just resigned to never seeing them perform live.
But tonight I got the next best thing. Reading are showing U2 3D this week (and, I am told this week only). It's basically a filmed concert, recorded over nine concerts on the Latin America leg of the band's Vertigo tour in 2006. And it is an experience. There is an immediacy to watching something in 3 dimensions, everything just becomes more real, there is no distance between the screen and the viewer. And with a film like this, for 90 minutes you're up so close to the band as they perform, it really is incredible. I've already written one brief post about 3D movies, (which, now that we've moved beyond red-blue to the polarised 3D technology that doesn't destroy colours, I am very excited to see coming forward as a medium for filmmaking), and this film really shows that the strength of 3D isn't in throwing things at the camera. There are a couple of moments where band members do point at the camera, but mostly they're focused solely on performing to the crowd. And it is those moments where the 3D really shines, because they stop being images on the screen, and become real solid people, and you're not just sitting in a cinema seat, you're really there, with Bono standing right there. I know that's the point of 3D, but the experience is still sufficiently new to me that it still blows me away.
The other great thing is that you're watching the film in a cinema, with cinema sound. It's loud, it's big, it completely envelops you. And with a music film, that's what you want. It's a great experience, one that I can't imagine ever being replicated at home (no, Daryl, not even with your setup).
The point of this post - if you get a chance to see it, seriously, see it. If you need to travel to see it, it is worth it. The only thing I regret is that I wasn't able to see it on the IMAX screen. That would have just made it that much better.
A few other thoughts:
* Watching the credits, it amused me to see listed a "Band Assistant" and an "Assistant to Bono". Why does Bono get his own assistant and the other three have to share? Although really, you're bloody U2, you can afford to hire an assistant each.
* Is it just me, or does it seem weird that a film like U2 3D would be released by National Geographic?
* The depressing thing is, this film was released a week or two after the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus 3D concert movie (in fact, the release of the U2 film was delayed after the Hannah Montana run was extended). Guess which one made more money. According to the IMDb, U2 3D has grossed $US7.5 million. Hannah Montana has grossed $65 million. That is just wrong.
* Looking at the Sky City Cinemas website, I see the Martin Scorcese-directed Rolling Stones concert film Shine A Light is out next month. I've heard good things about it, and of course Scorcese does love the Rolling Stones. It's not in 3D, but that should be interesting to see as well.
* They showed the trailer for the Brendan Fraser-starring Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3D movie, which is ... lacking. I haven't read the book since intermediate, and from what I remember it was a rather absurd book (really, dinosaurs roaming a giant underground cavern?) that was alleviated by (what seemed to the 12-year-old me to be) some imaginative writing. But this film? Looks horrible. My main hope is that they have a good reason for the existance of a giant underground rail car track in the centre of the earth, because that really strains credibility.
* Everything I see of Wall-E makes me more excited about that film. And we've got an interesting- and promising-looking set of summer movies coming up - Speed Racer, Narnia, Iron Man. Not to mentioning the fact that we are less than one month away from a new Indiana Jones film. One month.