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4DX Gonna Give It To Ya!

First the seats are gonna rock, Then they’re gonna roll.
When the movie stops, I gotta go to the bathroom go.
 

Okay. Now that I’m done butchering DMX, you’re probably wondering: What exactly is 4DX?

Think of it as a 3D movie that aspires to be a theme park ride when it grows up.

The location: Regal LA LIVE, home to the first 4DX theater in the United States (there are currently 9 scattered across the country in California, Washington, Illinois, Florida, and New York), their auditorium features motion seats that heave, roll, and pitch, along with environmental effects ranging from a malicious storm to a gentle breeze, and smoky explosions to the warm smell of coffee that are all synced to the on-screen action.

The movie: Wonder Woman. Which was great save for some third act pacing and CGI God Battle issues that ultimately weren’t glaring enough to dilute the effectiveness of what came before Doctor Poison’s Dance Party.

So what exactly happened when 4DX met Wonder Woman

It was love at first flight, as your seat seemingly lifts off the ground and you find yourself soaring through the clouds on approach to Paris. This is where 4DX really shines. Seat movement is smooth and satisfying, especially when it takes to the air. Be it Steve Trevor escaping a German Chemical Factory in a biplane, your seat rumbling from the prop, or Diana leaping off a cliff to rescue Steve before he goes to a watery grave…your seat literally pushing you over the edge with her.

And when it sticks to the ground I found the movements serving the cinematography, very much in the way the 3D in Avatar provided a deeper depth of field to every frame. During a specific scene in the trenches of World War One, the camera dollies around Wonder Woman and we might as well be riding the rails of the track. And it’s these subtleties that pulled me closer, drew me in.

While some effects seemed determined to push me away. Okay. One effect, the “Punch Me in the Spine Spectacular.”

Now, there’s some well choreographed brawling in Wonder Woman. And I’ll admit the first punch or two illicited a giggle, but the giggling quickly grinds to a halt. I just don’t need to feel every hit on every person. In fact, I wish they confined the effect to a POV character. In this case, Wonder Woman. When she gets hit…we feel it. Yes, people may complain they’re not getting their money’s worth because they weren’t being smacked around enough (there are other places you can go for that kind of treatment, just don’t forget the safe word), but it could be a powerful tool placing us in a specific character’s shoes and focusing the effort.

And the same goes for the pops of air that go off next to your head when somebody shoots a bullet or arrow at the screen. Use it sparingly so the impact has some actual impact on the viewer emotionally when that bullet/arrow finds its way into a character you care about. Or despise.

The other effects are all fine. Neither here nor there for me. Getting sprayed in the face with a fine mist during a water scene? Cute. And the one effect you can turn off thanks to a button on your armrest. “Smoke” billowing out from the bottom of the screen during a battle scene? Never yell fire in a crowded theatre. Strobe flashes to simulate lightning during a storm? Don’t look up. The scent of gunpowder and flowers? Subtle. Never strong enough to be distracting. And they’re gone before you know it, dissipating as quickly as they arrived. The gusting wind and breeze effects? Effective. Seeing the upcoming “GeoStorm” would probably blow you out the back of the theatre.

All in all I would say it’s not yet a marriage made in heaven, but it could get there. At $26 a ticket the price is a little steep, but when you think about it it’s only a few dollars more than IMAX. So I say: strap in and let it take you for a test drive.

 

For a listing of 4DX Theaters, click HERE!

 

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