This article was originally written in March 2008 for Living90045.com, a community blog featuring news, views, tips & chatter from Westchester, CA.
My husband headed home early recently and I tore myself away from my computer to catch the U2 3D movie at the Bridge Theater on its IMAX screen over at the Howard Hughes Promenade. Seeing the movie was my husband’s idea, based on a story that he heard on NPR. I’m a casual fan of the band’s music and huge supporter of their humanistic message, and the movie sounded like a fun diversion for a rainy Friday afternoon. I had no idea what was in store for me and I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The film was shot at nine concerts during U2’s Vertigo Tour in 2005/06 to promote the group’s 2004 album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Footage from the tour was shot mostly in South America where, reportedly, Bono felt that audience passion for the band best resembles that found in their native Ireland.
More than one online review I read after seeing the movie called it a “concert documentary.” That label does an incredible disservice to the film. The 3D concert crowd shots blend so well with the movie theatre crowd that you’ll swear the guy in front of you is waving his arms.
Catherine Owens, the lead director on the film, is quoted on U2.com as saying
‘this was the ultimate challenge in presenting U2’.
‘There is no comparison with a traditional concert film seen in 2D. One minute you are on stage with the band and the next you are at the back of the stadium. ‘The best way I can describe it for the viewer,’ she adds, ‘Is that it’s like being on the wings of a bird flying around the concert stadium – it’s really something else.’
I will certainly agree with her that the experience is unique. You can’t help but get totally pulled into the emotion of the band and their humanistic message. There is one moment during Sunday Bloody Sunday when you feel as if Bono is reaching out to touch your face and yours alone.
Is the film better than a live concert? The reviews I read in preparing this post universally agree that you really do feel like you can reach out and high-five the guys from your theater seat. No crowds, no parking nightmares and a front row ticket price of $15. It’s got to be a close toss up between live and 3-D. USA Today agrees, and CNET’s reviewer said “I don’t use this term lightly, but I really felt like I was witnessing something “revolutionary” in filmmaking.” Wired called it “the best rock show I never attended.”
If my description above doesn’t convince you to see the film, consider this – I have never in my life seen an audience so enthralled with the closing credits for a film. It was like nobody wanted the show to end. And the credits rolled on and on with a cool illustration working in the background. The grips never got so much attention.
We loved the movie and highly recommend it. Catch it while you can. Wikipedia reports that the film is not slated for release in 2D format or home video.
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See you around the neighborhood!