4-D Movie Theater Review

By Elias Lowland

The Harbinger (Prairie Village, Kansas)

After my first screening of “The Last Jedi,” I wanted nothing more than to turn around, walk back into the theater and watch the battle scenes between the Resistance and First Order again and again. The visuals of the latest movie in the Star Wars series were outstanding and I wished there was a more intense way of experiencing them. When I heard that B&B Theaters in Shawnee offers popular movies in 4-D, I saw this as my opportunity to delve deeper into the already incredibly exciting film.

A 4-D movie theater sounded like a surreal way to experience a film but unfortunately it fell far short of expectations. Rather than creating an immersive experience for the viewer, the constant movement and visual and audio effects proved to be annoying and distracting.

“The Last Jedi,” was the perfect choice for such an experience specifically because of the battles and flying scenes which I expected to be portrayed in the effects of the 4-D experience. Going into it, when I heard the seats moved, I was picturing rolling movements and dips like a rollercoaster, but instead I was violently shaken and tossed around for two and a half hours.

I expected it to be in 3D, but when I returned to the desk to ask for glasses from the attendant behind the counter, all I received was a blank stare. If the movie was in the 3D, the wind and movement effects especially would feel much more immersive as the viewer, with the action coming right towards you.

The seats were not any different from those at a normal movie theater, except for the foot stand on the bottom. The first scene depicts a ship moving downward, and as that happened my seat tilted forward too. This added a completely new way to interact with the movie, and hooked me for what I expected to be a very good rest of the movie.

I was really starting to enjoy the 4-D experience until I was repeatedly shot with short, but very intense, blasts of air. I assume it was supposed to replicate the feeling of flying, but instead it felt like someone blowing in my face from a short distance. If the effect felt more like a whoosh of a breeze or as if I was driving with the windows open, the effect would have been much more satisfying. The wind jets only became more powerful and abrupt as the movie progressed.

When ships were being destroyed, which occurred in much of the movie, the air was often accompanied by strobe lights that were set next to the top corners of the movie screen. The flashes were so bright that it was impossible to see the screen when the strobes were going on, and the lights didn’t seem to correlate with the action on the screen at all. I didn’t see the point in extremely bright flashes to represent guns being fired. The flashes were blinding, causing me to close my eyes rather than watch the dogfights in space between ships.

The disclaimer in order to buy the $18 ticket included scents and strobe lights, and I would add those who have a weak stomach should avoid the 4-D experience. The scents, released especially when fire was present, smelled more like cheap Febreeze than smoke. It eventually got to be so intense I resorted to putting my shirt over my nose to avoid the putrid scent.

While seat movement could be thrilling, I found many more negatives with the 4-D movie than positives. The seat movement at times was jarring, but overall was a innovative way to try to immerse the viewer. The 4-D movie experience is an interesting one to try if you are looking for an escape from the standard and boring old AMC. If you are the type of person, like myself, who would rather simply enjoy their movie with no chance of popcorn being strewn across your lap, then this is not the experience for you.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Nixon

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