U2 3D Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington

U2 3D Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington
Nearly sixteen years after Rolling Stones Live At The Max, a new concert film hits the world’s six-storey-high Imax screens. U2 3D captures rock’s biggest stadium band playing before the faithful in Buenos Aires during the "Vertigo” tour. The film boasts crystal-clear footage from several digital-3D cameras and generous 5.1 surround sound. Relative newcomers Owens and Pellington capture a superb show by the Irish band, who rip through 14 songs, dating back to "Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

Camera angles within the audience and shots from Bono’s point-of-view recreate the excitement of the gig. When the camera sweeps across the ocean of bouncing fans, the effect is breathtaking. Beyond that, the film is full of familiar camera angles found in any concert flick. What elevates U2 3D, however, is the technology.

From the opening notes of "Vertigo,” U2 3D transports the viewer into the stadium. The immense Imax film stock captures such details as the whiskers on the Edge’s goatee and the frets on Bono’s Gretsch guitar. The sense of depth is convincing in shots of Bono in the foreground and the Edge standing a few feet behind him. Overhead shots of Mullen’s drum kit are a nice touch, filling the huge screen with every detail of his skins, hi-hat and cymbals. To round out the experience, the music is finely mixed. Adam Clayton’s bass is rich, while Mullen’s cymbals are crisp and sharp.

U2 3D succeeds because the viewer feels like he’s sitting inches from the band. It’s easy to get swept up in the performance and is a close substitute to actually attending a show.

Reportedly, U2 considers this film an experiment that will play in Imax theatres and 3D digital movie houses only. There are no plans right now for a conventional release, either at a regular cinema or on DVD.

In an age of downloads and home theatre, U2 3D is a purely cinematic experience and an exciting one at that. (National Geographic)