In the age of On Demand TV, it takes a lot to get me into a real cinema. One of the ways to do this is by offering more than the home experience can provide. But is the experience of watching Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 at Nu Metro’s 4DX worth the ticket price?
I’ve experienced 4DX only once before at Gold Reef City, which felt more like a tech demo than a film. This pales in comparison to seeing an entire film using these effects. When the film started the impression was immediate. A clear blue sky was accompanied by a gentle breeze that at first didn’t seem very special until I realised I was in a closed cinema! The rumbling of an engine was mimicked by the slight rumbling of the seat that felt quite real. So far so good…
Dolly shots are mimicked by a slow turning of the seat, much like flying. This felt a little strange in the beginning but seemed quite natural after a minute. The first major fight scene isn’t experienced directly by the audience, seemingly happening in the background. Impacts were reflected in dampened, dull bumps in the seat. When something flies past the camera, a sudden burst of air combined with the depth of 3D made it feel like things were narrowly missing my body, managing to be impressive and subtle at the same time. It was clear that the effects coordinators were utilising this sequence to show the range of effects that is capable by these massive machines. There’s a single, impressive effect that I’ll leave for you to discover, though I suggest holding on to your popcorn.
For scenes of ships taking off and departing, the music accompanied by industrial fans and the shifting seat were inspiring. It allowed larger ships to feel heavy, difficult to lift, where smaller ships appeared to move more effortlessly and turn faster. Once or twice I was confused by the effect of the wind in space, though it seemed to be more of a suggestion than a direct translation from screen to “feel”.
Of course, this is a film all about fights and explosions. In this regard, the rumbling, rocking seat and occasional strobes did great in replicating it, momentarily disorienting me much like someone in such a situation might be shaken by such a near miss. A specific electrocution moment had the strobes flicker, the only time they were used to their full extent.
In music, they teach that the lack of something can be just as impacting as the thing itself. During the more heartfelt scenes, the effects were small, if not completely absent, to allow the audience to fully appreciate what they are seeing. One of my favourite songs from childhood was used in a particular scene, perfectly chosen. The effects completely subsided for a moment to lend gravity, only to come back for the revelation at the end. I recommend reading this paragraph again after watching and you’ll understand what I’m referring to.
If you’ve been on the fence about shelling out R175 for such an amplified experience, let me say that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is the perfect film to experience 4DX. My only complaint is the screen being smaller and dimmer than that of IMAX, though it’s obvious the technology was focused on the effects rather than the presentation of the film itself. I may rewatch Guardians Vol. 2 in IMAX to see the bright colours and amazing sound design in their full glory, though I fear the experience may feel a little dull for lack of a moving seat, flashing lights and wind effects.