Say goodbye to the days of going to the cinema to sit back and relax. Starting Thursday night, with the latest 4DX technology arriving in the UAE, you can become part of the adventure. For the length of a film, you can stomp through jungles, speed down highways or zoom through open skies with your favourite characters by hearing, smelling and feeling what they feel.
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to sit in on a screening of Tarzan ahead of the official launch of Mirdiff City Centre and Deira City Centre’s 4DX VOX Cinemas.
When I settled into my seat, I was startled by how bulky and sturdy it was compared to regular cinema chairs, seeming like a heavy-duty version. On the arm rest was a button that had two options: water on, or water off, which seemed like a warning for what was to come.
What followed was a journey more akin to a theme park ride than any cinematic experience I’ve had.
The sensation that needed the most getting used to was the vibration of the seats. For instance, when a meteor hit plant Earth, you felt the full-fledged shake of its impact. When the ground cracked open on screen, you were jerked around abruptly. When apes ran through the jungle, you felt the ground rumbling beneath them without ever having to move a muscle. Less pleasantly: when the apes fought and were thrown onto their backs, you, too, were punched in the back by your chair — a tad too realistically.
As the characters flew by on a helicopter, you could feel the blow of air around you, cool and inconsistent to create an authentic representation of wind. When there was snow, you could feel the breeze around you cool down. Whenever a bullet was shot – or a sudden object darted onto screen out of nowhere — you could feel quick jab of air from beside your ear. If there was smoke, little puffs of fog would emerge from near the screen.
The scents were most interesting. If there was a scene of greenery or flowers, you could smell something similar to pine tree air fresheners, evoking a sense of being in nature. But if there was a scene of fiery destruction, you smelled something unpleasant like pesticide.
With the ‘water on’ option chosen, you were sprayed in the face if the characters splashed around a river, and dripped on if there was on screen torrential rain. Even the thunder and lightning were enhanced, with the cinema flashing into small bursts of white light for impact.
Most subtly, if the camera panned or shifted to give a high or low angle shot, your seats moved so you felt like you were travelling with it, changing your point-of-view. Sounds surrounded you from all sides to pull you into the scenes.
Overall, the 4DX experience was a fun and stimulating one, though I don’t envision it replacing the classic two-dimensional experience that allows cinema-goers to unwind and appreciate the simpler art of film any time soon.
Tickets for the 4DX experience are Dh125. Films currently screening at Mirdif City Centre and Deira City Centre in 4DX are Fast & Furious 6, Thor: The Dark World, Tarzan, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 47 Ronin and Paranormal Activity 5. DCC: 04-2949000, MCC: 04-2840001.
4DX films currently screening at Mirdif City Centre (04-2840001) and Deira City Centre (04-2949000) are Fast & Furious 6, Thor: The Dark World, Tarzan, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 47 Ronin and Paranormal Activity 5.