U2 should see this movie in 3D

U2 3DConcert films can often be a letdown. The entire concept of capturing the experience of a live performance on film or record seems counterintuitive: We go to concerts to engage in a sort-of primal, communal connection with both the music and other concert-goers. It’s not just about seeing your favorite band or artist perform your favorite songs — there is a shared experience, and energy that cannot be replicated, even watching a great concert displayed on your 48-inch plasma, booming through your surround sound speakers.

But U2 3D comes damn close.

This too-short film captures U2’s mammoth Vertigo concert tour, with footage shot in Latin America, including two nights in Buenos Aires and two nights in Mexico City, among others. The arena concerts were shot in real time with state-of-the-art, digital, 3D cameras (developed by 3ality Digital), and the resulting film is the first of its kind (but based on trailers preceding the film, not the last). Though the 3D experience (aided by special glasses almost as funky as those Bono wears through most of the concert) is simply an enhancement to what amounts to a beautifully shot, brilliantly edited concert film, it does make for a convincing “live” feeling.

To be honest, there were a number of times I had to refrain from singing along or applauding between songs during my screening of the film — something that felt so right but might have been socially awkward in the sparsely attended 9 p.m. Sunday showing. Galaxy Theaters have some of the most cutting-edge digital projection and audio systems in the business, and that came through perhaps most effectively with U2 3D. I don’t think I’ve ever heard and seen such crisp, intimate sounds or visuals from a concert film, period. When the Edge and Bono sing dual vocal parts during a quiet refrain, you can hear the nuances in their voices so clearly, and so distinctively hear the Edge to the left of Bono, it’s eerie. When Bono sets off a flare to the far right of the screen, it sounds like someone in the far right of the theater did so (causing me to jump a bit).

U2 3D was directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, the latter of which has helmed such music videos as Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” U2’s “One” and The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.” The attention to musical details (overhead shots of the Edge on keyboards, multiple angles of Larry Mullen, Jr.’s drum kit) is a delight, but so are the digital effects that in hands less talented than Owens and Pellington would just be distracting. Words displayed on the giant video screens behind the band literally leap off the screen toward viewers, at one point becoming psychedelic-colored swirls floating in front of the stage. And though it’s a gimmick that has become overused in commercials, when Bono “draws” in the air glowing figures, it’s a true “ooh” moment.

Of course, the band’s performance is truly the glue that holds all this digital wizardry together. Even knowing U2 3D is edited together from about a dozen different concerts, it smoothly and effortlessly looks, sounds and feels like a singular experience. And running through almost 30 years of the band’s catalog — from early-’80s material such as “New Year’s Day” to Achtung Baby!‘s “One” to newer hits like “Beautiful Day” — there is something for every U2 fan.

U2 3D is only showing for a limited engagement at the Galazy Cannery (2121 E. Craig Rd. in North Las Vegas) through Thursday, Feb. 28. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office or online at www.galaxytheatres.com. Don’t miss this one — it’s an experience that only the full digital delivery and size of the movie theater can truly deliver.

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