There have been groundbreaking concert films over the years, but despite being shot in IMAX 3D, this isn’t one of them. “U2 3D” was shot during the band’s 2006 world tour, and though it actually features footage from a variety of locations, it’s edited to suggest a single performance comprising 14 numbers in Buenos Aires. It’s certainly well photographed and edited, blending different perspectives of the band and crowd shots smoothly and offering sumptuous multi-track sound. And it will certainly provide fans of U-2 with a close-up view, and they’ll appreciate having seats up front for a change (though there often still be folks gyrating in the pit who occasionally obstruct your line of vision).
Still, it has to be said that the 3D adds less to the film than you might expect. It’s effective enough from a purely technical perspective, but doesn’t pull you into the action as fully as you might imagine. The result is that the picture is enjoyable, but hardly the transporting experience it seems to promise.
Then there’s the music itself. Admittedly reactions in this respect will be largely dependent on personal taste, but to some of us there’s a distinct sameness to the songs, and a good deal of preachiness, too—not just in many of the lyrics but in Bono’s between-numbers remarks and in the reading of the UN Declaration on Human Rights that’s inserted at one point. It’s impossible to disagree with the lofty aspirations (or disparage the wonderful philanthropic efforts the band’s been involved in), but there’s an almost messianic quality to the presentation that’s difficult to take. Of course, that’s an observation that applies basically to the lead singer; the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. stick much more to sheer musical performance.
So while there’s no denying that this is a fine concert film that should certainly please fans, it’s not a watershed picture of its kind, and is unlikely to convert nonbelievers.