4DX is the latest development offering moviegoers an enhanced cinema experience. The phenomenon consists of motion seats and special effects like wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water, and rain, which are synchronised with the action on screen. With streaming services becoming ever more popular, the hope is to tempt viewers back to the big screen. But is it any use?
We had a first-hand experience of 4DX at last night’s Gala opening in Cineworld, Parnell Street. The movie shown was Rampage and results of applying the 4DX to it were mixed but generally satisfactory.
First off, here’s what worked. Those concerned that the rain effects will have them wet and cold needn’t fear. It’s more mist-like than rain-like and doesn’t leave that dreaded feeling of moistness (*shudders*). The movement of the chairs, which are organised by rows (and provide plenty of leg room, another plus), is just right – not quite roller coaster-esque but with enough momentum to give you a sense of giddy joy. The added effects worked particularly well for the helicopter and car chase scenes when the surround sound, wind, alternate sudden, circular and shaky seat movements, with the occasional flash of light, meshed together. While you never quite feel like you’re actually in the helicopter or in the car (as the ads for 4DX say you will feel), it is good craic.
There were less pleasant effects as well. Ahead of the screening, some of the effects demonstrated included snow and bubbles, and the amount of each was so pathetically small, with it only coming from the front of the cinema, that the response from the audience was laughter rather than awe. A different effect involving sharp puffs of air from behind the head felt quite unpleasant on the ears while another, which constituted pushes from behind the shoulder blades on the seat, felt like a small child kicking the back of your chair and was quite annoying. Fortunately, these were rare. Then, while the wind effects were great, they did make the cinema a bit cold near the end. That might prove to be an advantage, mind you, when people are looking to cool off going into the summer months.
If you’re the kind of movie goer who loves bringing a massive popcorn and drink to the cinema, 4DX is far from ideal. While not impossible to eat as you’re being shaken about, the feeling of movement isn’t appetising, and this reviewer saw several audience members either not finish whatever food they’d brought in or very cautiously consume during the dialogue-driven scenes during which seat movements are typically non-existent.
It has to be emphasised, Rampage ended up being the ideal companion to the 4DX experience. The fun and silliness of each perfectly complimented one another. Having seen Avengers: Infinity War earlier in the week (check out our review here or listen to the review on our latest The Filum Show podcast below), enduring 4DX for 2 hours and 40 minutes would have been quite intolerable.
It’s easy to go to these things cynically. If you do so, you won’t enjoy it. If you go in willing to try it out and pick the right movie for it (something that doesn’t require much cerebral work so the effects become a fun addition rather than an annoying distraction), you’ll have good craic. Whether it will prove to be something people go to again and again rather than try as a one-off is another question entirely. My guess would be it will, like 3D, gather a small crowd of devoted fans who will swear by it, but it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
A final note: Tickets are looking to be €15-20, which sounds expensive but I would point out that 1. You’re paying for the ‘experience’ (a cliché, but it’s true as you are going to get something new and different from your typical cinema outing), and 2. It’s essentially the exact same price as IMAX.