Last week I went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service and decided to watch it in Cineworld’s newest screen type, 4DX, in the UK’s first and currently only 4DX screen in Milton Keynes. Owned and developed by a South Korean company, it takes cinema to a whole new level. Whilst 4D has been a common technology, particularly within Theme Parks, to have it used in conjunction with studio films is a very unusual experience.
The 4D many are familiar with consists of motion seats, water spray and air effects. However, 4DX adds several new additions, including rain, fog, lightning, scents and, strangely, bubbles. With the option to switch off the water effects for those not willing to get wet, there is certainly enough going on to ensure an entire film is capable of tingling the senses.
Walking into the auditorium you discover a screening room that looks very similar and nothing really seems out of place or different. That is until you reach your seat. Divided up into blocks of four, you step up on a foot rest and relax into one of the comfiest chairs you ever will at a cinema. You will find yourself analysing everything within the room, searching for the tiny holes in the back of the chair in front wondering whether it will be air or water that fires from it.
You’re immediately introduced to the features during the 4DX advert playing before the film, allowing you to experience everything and prepare you for what will be in store. There was an uproar of laughter as everybody was thrown around in their seats, which makes you feel a slight rush of adrenaline as though you were riding a rollercoaster. Jets of air rush past your ears, rain falls down from the ceiling, and you’re focused on the action trying to second guess the next effect.
This was then followed by the Jurassic World trailer in full 4D, a possible hint to it being shown in the same format when it releases later this year. The vibrations in the seating really accentuated the thunderous footsteps of the dinosaurs and I feel it will be one film that really benefits from the added atmospherics. Once the initial excitement was over it was time to start the film we’d all come to see, now knowing full well what was in store.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is the first film in the UK to be shown this way and seemed the perfect choice to utilise the technology and show off each of it’s treats. An extreme action film that doesn’t hold back, every element of 4DX was used extensively throughout doing everything it could to impress. I was curious to know if even the bubbles would be used and I was delighted to see them during a hilarious scene set to the music of Land of Hope and Glory.
The big question is though, is this the future of cinema or just another gimmick to increase cinema numbers? Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed watching a film in this way, there are of course only certain films that would gain from using it. One film that would no doubt make incredible viewing is Gravity, but whether we’ll see a limited re-release remains to be seen. I would be tempted if that was the case.
All in all, it’s certainly not the future of cinema. Where sound, colour and HD have revolutionised the big screen, they were able to do it for every film. 4DX sits alongside 3D, IMAX and D-Box, an exciting gimmick that can make those big budget, visual effect, action spectaculars just that little bit more fun. It’s worth checking out at least once and I will most likely see other films on the odd occasion, but listening to some of the people as we left the screen, they didn’t seem as eager to return.