Thursday, June 2, 2011

In 8 days, 50 US theaters will vibrate you during "Super 8"

Of all the many gimmicks, of all the many shiny baubles people can hold in front of your eyes, we're in 2011 and got the announcement that 50 Stateside theaters would be equipped with vibrating chairs for the release of "Super 8" on June 10th.

Yes, the new wave of the future involves a chair that can rock and vibrate, and other weird stuff like rocking and vibrating. And it's not some person's weird sex fantasy or an effort to get incriminating info about film-goers... The (appropriately-titled?) "d-box" is somehow a big thing - just check their website.

But there's more...
As usual, I have to thank The AV Club for giving me the head's up here. My colleagues didn't point out (& neither did movieline) the warning page for the d-box, which I'm quoting directly below:
The D-BOX motion system and motion enabled seats may be harmful to women who are pregnant, persons with heart conditions, the elderly, persons with back, head or neck conditions or injuries or those with other pre-existing medical conditions. All such persons should consult their physicians before using the D-BOX motion system or motion-enabled seats.
Well, at least it sounds perfectly safe.
Use of the D-BOX motion system and of the motion-enabled seats is not recommended for children under the age of ten years old without parental supervision. 
That sounds like a fun explanation to have to make, right? Do you really want to be worrying about your kid(s) while you're in a dark theater? How childproof are these things, anyway?
Use of hot liquids in the vicinity of the D-BOX motion system or motion-enabled seats must be avoided at all times to prevent spillage which could cause serious injuries to the user.
Man, at least they didn't warn people not to apply eye-liner or nurse or high-five their friends, huh? At least they didn't actually warn people not to move in for a kiss in the buckin' bronco movie-chair...

And that last warning is followed by a legal disclaimer where the company swears that they ain't responsible in court, no matter what happens.

My colleagues didn't also provide a pic or link of the map (scroll down) with all the theater locations. If you're near NYC, no luck - Scranton, PA and Edison, NJ are the closest you'll find.

Nor will "Super 8" be the first big shaky-seat release - "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" already released with this feature, and "Harry Potter 7B" will do so the week after "S8."

There has been a lot of debate about the new push for 3-D movies. I'm happy if it helps save Hollywood from video piracy, but I've heard bad reports about the look of films that were made for 3-D. I've heard worse for those converted to it. I've only seen "Coraline" with the new glasses, and my linked review talks about what a great experience that was.

Then again, I also understand that there was once a smell-o-vision.

Still, this new addition seems pretty cheap. Of course, my opinion is partly based on my experience watching "Cloverfield." Uninteresting and unsympathetic characters set in a highly-minimalist story that didn't have enough "scare" to be a monster movie. When the movie was nearly over and I finally got a decent look at that damned monster, I noticed how the camera moved and it hit me,
"oh crap, even if it's just to keep my brother company at the movies, these jerks got me to watch a g-d roller-coaster ride. F! you, Abrams! I didn't come to ride the Cyclone!"
I suppose part of my attitude is also formed by incessant hype. Since "Clover" - shortening the name is the only way I don't almost say/write "Cloverfeld" (which would be great) - was a financial success, its sequel was guaranteed and JJ sure knows how to tease a project on a level with the biblical wife, Rachel. Yeah, I'm not working 14 years just to get my hands on "the goods" that "Super 8" might offer; this isn't love, Mr. Abrams.

Keep in mind that "S8" will be the 3rd picture directed by this popular and successful producer/writer of tv-and-film.  The previous entries were "MI:III" and "Star Trek," which I hear were big dumb blockbusters to compare with anything before them (I didn't see "MI:III"). As such, "Super" is virtually guaranteed to be a "roller-coaster movie," too, and I can't imagine that Abrams will make this one any scarier, plot-ier, or full of interesting characters than he did with "C-field."

Please note that by "roller-coaster," I don't mean that these pics take you on a trip of ups and down. I mean "following a fixed camera that may as well be running on a track." As opposed to a movie where people go into a bar because something about the plot or characters has made them go to a bar, "C-field" was the sort of movie where the camera was going to go into a bar no matter what, and the audience and actors better keep up. Roller-coasters don't have movie-stories, and neither did "Cloverfield."

If studios are stooping to the level of buzzing our backsides, and making news about it, will they actually be sure to create good movies to display these effects? Will they simply think that they're dangling a piece of string in front of a bunch of kittens? Or will they simply make a high-profile whatever, then grab the cash while they can? I think the "humming/shaking chair" thing pretty much bears out low expectations, but you might feel differently than I do.

I heard someone say that movies are a cursed art form because they do all the work for you - they leave so little to be imagined as with a painting, a poem, or music. So it seems a little sad - and all the more deteriorating for the imagination - to have to add force feedback. Of course, it's 50 theaters, and far too impractical for wide use, so I shouldn't take this too seriously.

Maybe d-box seating plays out better than it sounds. If any of you get your posterior tickled at the theater - and it's consensual - let me know how it went for you.


  1. So did you try the seat ?

  2. Nope! Not yet, nyway. I'm going to need to have a special outing with some game company. And we'd need to rent a car to get out to the closest one (Edison, NJ). As soon as I do, though, you're guaranteed an article about it!


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