The popularity and quality of DVDs, the rise of home theaters, the general unpleasantness of the modern cineplex experience -- when pinpointing blame for declining interest in going to the movies, all of these reasons (and a few more as well) likely play a part. Nonetheless, for studios and theater chains, the "why" isn't quite as important as the "how do we turn this awful trend around?" And if the past couple of years are any indication, their prime solution seems to involve trotting out a technology that's more than half a century old, slightly improving its quality, and touting it as some sort of revolutionary step forward. That's right, we're talking about 3D, which began its comeback in exclusive IMAX-only presentations of random major theatrical releases (like 2006's Open Season), and has now begun its full infiltration of the mainstream, most notably with last November's Beowulf, a CG spectacle that -- in nearly a third of all the theaters it was projected -- required the use of advanced red-and-blue glasses to get the full, eye-popping experience.
Now the next phase of the technique's attempted resurrection arrives in the form of U2 3D, the first live-action film to ever be shot completely in 3D. And as with Beowulf, the same inherent positives and negatives persist. Directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington using a wide array of 3D cameras, this document of U2's 2006 stop in Argentina on their Vertigo tour -- including footage from seven different performances -- is a striking up-close-and-personal view of the iconic band running through a greatest hits set list to a raucous outdoor stadium audience. What Owens and Pellington's film provides is an immersive front row seat at a U2 show, which -- with its elongated stage platforms that stretch into the crowd, and an immense, multifaceted screen presenting all manner of graphics and text -- seems to have been custom-designed to be transposed into three dimensions. Attuned to the bass of Adam Clayton in "Where the Streets Have No Name" and the crooning of Bono during a fantastic rendition of "One," the spectators rock, sway and bounce with rhythmic exhilaration, feeding into the titanic ego of U2's frontman and washing over the band's calmly cool guitar god The Edge.