ISTANBUL -’U2 3D,’ the first ever live-action 3D concert movie, makes a grand promise: To make the viewer a part of an experience as never before. The movie hits Turkish theaters Friday after some delay
Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007, the first live-action 3D concert movie has been in Turkish cinemas since last Friday. Yes, the wait was long, but the phrase "better late than never" works so well in times like these. And the film arrives at a time when the Irish rock band’s new tour dates are confirmed, and once again Istanbul has been left out of the big party. For anyone not planning to leave Turkey this summer, "U2 3D" looks like the best chance of catching the band onstage.
But can seeing a movie in a room make up for really being there? The answer is yes. Say, referring to that great song from 1991 album "Achtung Baby": At times, it is even better than the real thing.
Especially in the opening moments, when the camera is inches from frontman Bono. A part-time diplomat in show business, Bono knows how to adapt to the situation. He strikes one of his coolest looks at the camera, reaches out his hands, and thanks to those glasses on your face, it really feels as though you can touch him! The same thing happens all throughout the concert: You can feel bassist Adam Clayton walking toward you or witness how guitarist The Edge breathes in and out.
Sharper colors and deeper vision
How that happens this reporter fails to explain, but thanks to some technical wizardry and to those 3D glasses, colors seem sharper and vision becomes deeper.
But the movie is not all about strolling around the stage for 85 minutes. It also allows the feeling of that inexplicable spell of being in a crowd at a rock concert, making 80,000 people feel as one. From the front row to the seats in the stands, from the most devoted U2 fan to the regular rock listener, the camera makes the viewer a part of it, feeling so real that make you want to wave your hands like the fans in the stadium do.
That is a crucial part of what U2 does: As the ultimate stadium rock band, the Irish quartet needs full participation from the crowd and gets it with no trouble. The Edge hits his first power chord to kick-start "Vertigo," which opens with Bono shouting "Uno, dos, tres, catorce!" and thousands are into it. The counting in Spanish fits well with the crowd in the film, which was shot in several concerts in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
In the movie, Bono explains why they were there, saying that Latin Americans’ attitude and devotedness was a reminder of the band’s massive number of fans back in their country. The band’s choice is repaid; from singing along to synchronized dance and jumps, this is an off-the-hook audience with incredible energy.
Messages of peace
Of course, it is not all about fists-in-the-air moments. There are several moments of simple but striking messages of peace, which is a serious part of U2: Excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are reflected on the giant screen, to name one. Another one that lingers on the viewer’s mind is the headband that has the word "coexist" on it. The letters c, x and t are designed to represent religious symbols, and Bono blindfolds himself with it at the end. Maybe we should add acting abilities to rock-stardom and diplomacy.
And ultimately, besides energy and political activism, sentimentality has always been U2’s secret weapon. That is why the band saves a couple of the best for last: Classic ballads "One" and "With Or Without You" come at the very end to replace fists with lighters, or mobile phones, an apt sign of the times.
Finally, "U2 3D," which is shown only in Cinebonus theaters in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, fulfills what it promises: a concert experience from start to finish. It is not just an ordinary "rockumentary" in which all you see is talking heads. This is a concert movie, maybe the only one that, with attention to every single detail, allows you to see what is going on onstage.
Forget the fact that they take back the cool 3D glasses, which are more Elvis Costello than Bono Ğ the movie is flawless and a must-see for every rock fan, not only for diehard U2 listeners. At the end, it leaves the watcher thinking, "Can it get better?"
The answer is no, unless U2 comes to play in Istanbul this summer and Bono finally wins his Nobel Peace Prize.