February 28, 2008

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U2 3D (G)
Bono and crew give us “Vertigo” — the tour, the song, the three-dimensional music experience in U2 3D, a concert film complete with 3-D glasses and some dozen or so U2 tracks.

If you were lucky enough to escape the Hannah Montana 3-D movie, then you missed the one positive aspect about that otherwise painful (sorry, kids, this music just isn’t for the over 15) experience: the picture was really clear and the sound was really crisp. If you don’t have the money or the juice to score front-row tickets to your favorite band, these 3-D movies are a pretty decent alternative. You get more of the “you are there” sense of the concert than the DVD viewed at home could give you and you get a surprisingly up-close look at the artists. This isn’t that red-and-blue Spy Kids 3-D — it’s the kind of experience you’d have at the very best IMAX movie.

And here, the faces coming right at you belong to Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen. Faces, guitar handles, drums — you see it all as if you were close enough to poke it. The songs are some of U2’s better ones (though not, I’d argue, their best): “Beautiful Day,” “New Year’s Day,” Love and Peace or Else,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday, “Bullet the Blue Sky” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The songs seemed loosely connected by a general theme of pro-peace and anti-strife.

My dad once told me that he would be more interested in going to the symphony if he could bring a newspaper or maybe a good book. After a while, just watching someone play music can get a little, well, maybe not boring but it wouldn’t be bad to have something else to do with your hands and your eyes. I felt that way watching U2 3D. The effects are neat, the music is good but this isn’t really a concert. Dancing around or singing along is not something most people are likely to do in a crowded theater (which might be one reason the less self-conscious Hannah Montana audience might have more fun at their concert). You’re seeing a concert but you’re feeling the cool, quiet blackness of a movie theater. After a while, I wished that I could maybe read a newspaper or at least flip through a magazine, paying occasional attention to the smoke machines and guitar solos and then turning back to skirts for spring. B

Rated G. Directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, U2 3D is an hour and 25 minutes long and is distributed by National Geographic World Films.