Last night, I attended a virtual U2 concert in an IMAX theatre. That’s right, guys. When Peter Griffin said “the future is digital,” he really meant the virtual, digital and 3-dimensional.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most loyal or even avid U2 fan, but like anyone their discography holds a certain nostalgic value for me. And the movie – all 80 minutes – lived up to the hype. Well, that wouldn’t be completely correct. In fact, I don’t think there has been enough hype around this movie. I barely heard about it as a recipient of the Arclight Hollywood‘s Bacn. Their Cineramadome will be showing U2 3D for only one weekend.

But back to the movie – which you can see at an IMAX theatre near you. It was, quite frankly, a breakthrough in the concert-going experience. It was really about the format and the experience the technology provided that made it so breathtaking. And Bono and his crew weren’t the only ones who were life-sized. At many points in the edited show, the fans in Buenos Aires made you feel just as much a part of their soccer futbol stadium show as they were. Even better, you weren’t so much a part of them as you were an all-panning fly on the wall in the air with sweeping overhead views and 3-dimensional layers upon other layers engineered for a transcendental concert-going experience. An experience that’s pretty much impossible to have in person – even if you’ve got front-row, $200 tickets. It’s having access to each bead of Bono’s sweat – yes, that close. And all you people with your fancy schmancy HDTV and Blu-ray; that doesn’t even come close to this.

Oh right, but it’s all about the music. In fact, the sound was engineered to match the epic screen proportions and in combination with the elaborate light and stage show U2 puts on, I would be hard-pressed to find a lukewarm fan remaining in the audience after this movie. The sound is directional, too. At a few points in the show Bono can be heard behind you while still on stage as you get closeups of The Edge, Adam Clayton or Larry Mullen doing their solos. I thought the light show was also impressive as they layered snippets of the huge screen onto other parts of the stage for a truly 3-dimensional experience.

It’s a breakthrough format and there was no better band than U2 to be the first band to be filmed in this manner, what with Bono’s save-the-world humanitarianism reflected through lyrics encompassing more than ten albums. So when Bono really reaches out to you, he really reaches out to you – philosophically and otherwise (I flinched). The 3d animated touches that really grab you and put you in the center does what’s needed to reel you in til the end … until the closing out with With Or Without You.

As Tammy, a true U2 fan since the beginning, asked me a dozen times after the movie, “Are you a believer?” After this experience, it was hard not to be. Check your local IMAX asap!

Other links:

L.A. Times Review

IMDB title page