Tonight, with about 40 other people, Jarren and I caught the Austin press screening for the upcoming U2 3D concert film. This is something I sorta kinda saw at Cannes, but that was just 75% of the final product. The final product, on the other hand, will screen at Sundance this week and then find itself in IMAX theaters nationwide at the end of the month. When I caught the 55-minute sneak peek at Cannes, I was a little disappointed. Arguably, this was because we had just seen the band in the flesh, performing an impromptu set on the steps of the Palais. So, how can some concert film compare? Plus, I felt the 55-minute preview was all wrong. The pacing, the song selection, it was all just a tease and an attempt to throw as many tricks at us, at one time. No thanks.
“This will never make a decent 80-minute film,” I thought at the time. And, I was wrong. U2 3D, in its feature length, is precisely what it should be: a great setlist, a bag of visual tricks spread evenly throughout, and a great band in top form. I’m biased, I’m a U2 fanatic, but this quartet of musicians is so tight, so focused and so talented, that they shine brighter in the third dimension. Bono is Bono, and he’s a ham and he’s a rock star, but something about Bono in 3D actually feels normal. The Edge is such a virtuoso on guitar, that his riffs feel even more radiant when you see it up close. And, the audience is about as ideal as you could imagine. Filmed at nine different concerts (though seamlessly edited together), the crowd goes buckwild ever minute. In particular, the audience at the band’s centerpiece Buenos Aires show, who sing every word and bounce to every beat. In 3D, moments like that pull you in unlike any concert film before.