I Just Saw Logan... In 4DX

I just saw Logan. I just saw a movie in 4DX. This could be broken down into two articles and though my editor might like more content, I thought the experience itself affected the movie. It affected the film enough to say that I saw Logan a way most probably didn’t. Alright, let’s Blue Skidoo this jazz.

What is 4DX?

If you’ve ever been to something like the Honey I Shrunk The Audience ride at Disney or the Shrek ride at Universal Studios you will remember the 4DX experience. The seats move, fans blow to emulate wind, water shoots out at you and scents... do whatever scents do. It is designed to make the viewer feel like they are in the film. Every time Logan is hit in the back you feel it in the chair. At first, I was expecting another movie theater gimmick to try and get people back in the theaters (*cough* 3D), but some aspects seemed to work well. Just so you know, they don’t use the 3D glasses with 4DX - I wasn’t sure about that going into it. Let’s talk about what didn’t work.

The Kinks

First and foremost, there is an adjustment period to this. The opening scene was kind of ruined because I didn’t expect the type of motions that the seats would produce. I went for a sip of my beverage and upon an unexpected chair jerk, the straw found it’s way up my nose. After I got a taste of what I was in for, the motions became more a part of the experience. There were still a few times that I was removed from the story because of the 4DX effects. This brings me to…

I think they will need to seriously scale back the chair motions. It almost seems like the motion control designer was a little trigger-happy. There were a lot of subtle motions that I felt strongly enhanced a slow dolly move, though, the super jerky stuff took me out of it. An example of something that stuck too much was the driving scenes. There were basically two types of landscapes while driving and that was on road and off-road. The off-road motions were great, but I feel that the on road motions should have been much more subtle. It made me question what it felt like to be in a car. Next up on my constructive criticism:

Gunshots. The gunshots were “enhanced” by a quick shot of compressed air next to your head. This was terrible because you heard the uncle-flipping air shoot out. Nothing took me out of the movie more than this. Another thing is that in a gunfight you only had air shoot out on certain gunshots - which makes sense because you wouldn’t want air shooting out at the rate of multiple automatic-rifle at the same time, but in my opinion the air was still too much for me.

Now that all that’s out of my system…

What Works

Weather Effects - the 4DX weather effects totally enhanced the feel of the scenes where it appeared. Whether there’s some rain and a little water hits you or the breeze is blowing and you can feel it, this experience totally enhances the film. It’s because of the subtleties. It’s because a gust is something small you feel and it’s part of everyday life. It's relatable, because it adds these sensations we take for granted so often. Not everyone can relate to the feeling of a knee to the spine.

Smells (maybe.) The scents in the movie came in and I went “Oh wow! I smell something.” That’s neither good nor bad to me – it all depends on how it’s used moving forward. If the people making these films can add scents more effectively, I can see this being a huge tool for storytellers to bring their audience in closer.

Slow Moving Chair movements worked extremely well. The slow push-ins or pull-outs were really cool and I felt they made the scene stronger. There was one pullout as the camera pushed in and that made this interesting and new push-pull effect. It did add a fourth dimension to my experience. I can see this being extremely effective in extending camera movements and shifting the viewers perspective. For this, I am excited!

Conclusion on 4DX

This could be a powerful tool if three improvements occur:

  1. People need to get used to it. Similar to every other big jump in technology since the start of filmmaking, there is going to be a buffer period.

  2. The filmmakers use the technology to enhance the experience, not as a gimmick. I swear, if you fools overuse this it’ll be a bigger mistake than introducing Michael Bay to a steadicam.

  3. Drop the price. At $25 a pop the theaters will blow their shot at getting butts into seats before anyone can say “Two tickets, please... Wait, $50? Never mind.”

Review of Logan:

Dope movie. Go see it. Keep it up Fox.

Gage Out.