If nothing else, U23D is a landmark technical achievement. Its list of firsts is impressive: first live-action film to be shot, edited, and shown entirely in 3D; first-ever 3D multicamera shoot; first film to utilize all of the world's 3D cameras for one single project, etc. Indeed, though the subject matter (a U2 concert) is fun enough, this is a film that is first and foremost a technological show-off—and deservedly so.
The experience of sight and sound that one encounters in U23D is undeniably breathtaking. When the film—directed by longtime U2 visual effects collaborator Catherine Owens—begins with the bang that is "Vertigo," it takes a few minutes to adjust to the 3D gimmick (and make no mistake, it is a bit of a gimmick). But by the second song ("New Year's Day") the film's rapturous energy and high-impact sensory-overload has you in its grip. High-definition 3D cameras soar above the stadium crowds, swooping and weaving in and around the band and the screaming throngs with cell phone "lighters" in the air. It's a strikingly immersive experience, and were it not for the conspicuous lacking of concert smells (sweat, beer, controlled substances) and touch sensations (sweat, wind, rambunctious bodies), you might think you were there.
Filmed over the span of seven shows in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, U23D puts the spectator right in the midst of a stadium concert experience from the band's 2006 Vertigo tour. Similar to the various HBO-aired concerts (Justin Timberlake, Madonna, etc), U23D comes about a year after the tour ended, providing a cheaper "better late than never" alternative for those of us who missed the live experience. Of course, such concert films typically don't even compare to ...1