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"U2 3D"
(2008) (Concert Film) (G)

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Concert Film: The band U2 performs at a concert recorded in digital 3D.
The band U2 -- comprised of lead singer Bono, drummer Larry Mullen Jr., bassist Adam Clayton, and lead guitarist The Edge -- performs a concert in Buenos Aires, recorded live in digital 3D.
OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
There's no question that time changes everything, and that's most notable when comparing one generation to another. Take, for instance, what home entertainment was like when I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s. The goal back then was for everything to be bigger, resulting in "huge" 25-inch TV consoles (the ones with the wood grain, real or faked, to create the furniture look), bulky (and heavy receivers) and gargantuan speakers.

Other than flat panel TVs getting bigger in screen size (but smaller in depth), everything nowadays is about going smaller. That's particularly true in handheld devises, none of which existed "back in the day" (save for transistor radios). Accordingly, I'm somewhat shocked to see kids watching videos on tiny cell phones, video games and other such equipment where the screens measure less than two inches diagonally.

Beyond inducing eye strain and reducing everything to such miniscule proportions that it's hard to discern what's what, such miniaturization robs this latest generation of the "larger than life" mentality that drove their predecessors into A/V glee.

For those wishing to show their kids that there's more to life than can be held in one hand or placed into a shirt pocket, and/or who simply want to experience entertainment that will induce a near guaranteed "wow" reaction, there's a new solution in town.

That is, as long as you have access to an IMAX theater nearby. For that's where "U2 3D" will best be experienced in all of its enormous screen and big sound system glory (it will also play in regular theaters equipped to present digital 3-D, but the experience won't be anywhere the same).

Billed as the first live-action, digital 3-D film, the offering is a "standard" concert pic filmed during the last leg of the band's "Vertigo" concert. Shot mainly in Buenos Aires and a few other locales, the highly entertaining pic doesn't feature any backstage interviews or footage, and save for some introductory shots of fans storming the gates, it never leaves the immense auditorium in which it was recorded.

The result is nothing short of spectacular, especially if you're a fan of the band's work over the past quarter century. Opening with their latest big hit, "Vertigo" and then traversing back over their many notable songs, the film is the next best thing to actually being at a real concert (and while still sonically impressive, it never reaches ear-bleed levels as oft occurs when attending such events in the flesh).

Directors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, along with their post-production team, do take some artistic liberties with their coverage of the concert (superimposed shots, wording from backdrop stage screens placed up front and center), but it's otherwise a straightforward experience that alternates between intimate, up close and personal views of the band as they perform, and shots from back in the crowd.

The latter are used to help create the 3D experience, as the arms and heads of those in front of the camera suddenly seem as if they're actually now in front of the viewer. The effect is all the better in creating the "you are there" sensation, but except for a few standard 3D tricks (Bono holding a mic stand over his shoulder, making one think it might swing around and knock them from their seat), the filmmakers thankfully don't go overboard with such visual effects.

Instead, they let the music, its positive social messages, and the band do their thing. As a result, and after a while, one forgets they're immersed in an enormous, 3D venue, and then simply sits back and enjoys the offering. In fact (and particularly in January when this film is first being released), I usually can't wait for most theatrical releases to end (since they're usually bad in this typical dumping period for Hollywood offerings).

With this one, however, I wished it wouldn't. All of which means that with a running time of 85 minutes, it's just the right amount. "U2 3D" never wears out its welcome, and will leave viewers with their feet tapping, their throats humming the words or chords of one or more songs, and their eyes and ears completely satisfied by this sight and sound spectacle. The film rates as an 8 out of 10.

Reviewed January 15, 2008 / Posted January 25, 2008

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