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U2 3D (2008)

Release Date:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MPAA Rating:
NR

Rating Reason:
Not available

Genre:
Concert

Starring:
Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.

Director:
Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington

Official Site:

Synopsis:
The first-ever live-action digital 3-D film, U2 3D is a unique cinematic experience that places viewers within the pulsing energy of a stadium concert given by the world’s most popular band. Marrying innovative digital 3-D imagery and multi-channel surround sound with the excitement of a live U2 concert – shot in South America during the final leg of their “Vertigo” tour – it creates an immersive theatrical experience unlike any 3-D or concert film that has come before. Ushering in a new dimension of filmmaking, U2 3D takes viewers on an extraordinary journey they will never forget.

U2 3D (2008) | Review

Can Music Bring the World Together?
Darrel Manson

Content Image
trailer
(Trailer can be downloaded as flv)

Music is not my beat (no pun intended) and it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve been to a concert, so the film may be a bit of a stretch for me. Not that I don’t like music or know who U2 is, but I don’t have a deep and abiding knowledge on the subject. The film is a compilation from several concerts that were part of the band’s Vertigo tour in 2005-06.

Since the film is a 3D IMAX film, it is in many ways state-of-the-art filmmaking from a technical perspective. It’s being marketed as the next step in concert films—and it likely is. And from a technical point of view it is a stunning work. The 3D effects are used very successfully to bring the performers and at times the crowds very close. It does feel as if a forty foot tall Bono is standing five feet away. The 3D allows for very effective use of overlays and fades between shots.

U2
A forty foot tall Bono is standing five feet away.

One of my concerns going into the film was if the technology would get in the way of the content—if it would be style over substance. For about the first third of the film, that was the case. You watch the effects without paying as much attention to the music. After a while, though, the 3D images themselves become less important than what you’re seeing in 3D.

OK, so technically it’s excellent. If you like 3D for the sake of 3D, you’re there anyway. But I will say that even with the 3D there is a great difference between being at a concert amid the crowd of cheering people who are sharing a synergy with the performers and sitting in a dark theater in orderly rows of seats. In a sense, that undoes much of the purpose of the 3D effects.

So what about the music? Obviously, U2 fans will find this a must see. What about everyone else? Like at a concert, it helps to know the songs because you may not always hear the lyrics. But that aside, it should be noted that U2 often uses religious, especially Christian, imagery in their songs. They also have an emphasis on human rights and issues of peace and justice. Among the songs performed in the film are “Love and Peace or Else,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and “Miss Sarajevo.” After “Miss Sarajevo” the electronic screen at the back of the stage scrolls through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights while the various declarations are read aloud.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

?Coexistence is also a call that the band makes through its music and its example. One of the main graphics in the concert is the word "coexist" written with a crescent for the C, a star of David as the X and a cross as the T. It is easy to see the ways that the animosity between faiths has been detrimental to the world and its people through the centuries. Even though Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim in different ways to be sons and daughters of Abraham, we rarely have been able to coexist without turmoil.

At one point in the film Bono speaks to the crowd at a concert in Argentina. He says that Argentina and his homeland of Ireland have some things in common, but that “the difficulties of our paths will not prevent us from making a better future.” From time to time through the film, the cameras scan the crowds who are often singing along with the band with as much energy as they can. That U2 (and especially Bono in his role as conscience to the developed nations) use their music to speak messages that need to be heard and heeded is well worth celebrating. But their music, as important as music can be, is not the part that really brings hope of a better future. That hope is found in seeing and hearing so many others voices joining in the message.


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