4DX Cinema: one heck of a ride (and not in a good way)

4 min read

When we compiled our staff review for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, some of the more sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that I didn’t contribute, despite having watched the movie. The reason for that is I went to watch it at a 4DX cinema. As such, I’m not going to talk about GOTG, the rest of the team have that covered. Instead, this will be a Public Service Announcement about 4DX cinemas.

For those of you that haven’t heard of 4DX, it’s billed as a totally immersive experience. According to the Wikipedia page, 4DX allows a motion picture presentation to be augmented with environmental effects such as seat motion, wind, rain, fog, lights, and scents along with the standard video and audio. Sounds gimmicky right? Well, from first-hand experience I can tell you that yes, yes it is.

The cinema’s seats are wide and relatively comfortable, but you’ll notice that there is a conspicuous lack of seatbelts, which is a glaring oversight in my opinion. The “seat motion” part of the environmental effects include vibrating, rumbling, twisting and feeling like the seat is generally trying to buck you off. I’ll give 4DX this, I didn’t need to go to the gym afterwards, got my core workout from just trying to hang on. You can also forget about snacks; the cup holder is stable enough but your popcorn becomes a hazard.

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Cinemas are generally pretty cold, but thanks to the environmental effects, the giant fans in the cinema will give you a gentle breeze to add to the air-conditioning. Or, depending on the scene, blow your hair across your face. Don’t worry though, the seats in front of you will mist you with who-knows-what to get the hair out of your face again. And if you need to pick up all the popcorn you dropped, bright lights will flash every so often. So bright that they light up the entire cinema.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t actually watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Instead, I was trapped on a rollercoaster for two and a half hours while a movie played in front of me. For the most part, I couldn’t pay attention to what was happening on the screen. Instead of being immersive, 4DX took me completely out of the experience. There’s too much going on and you can’t get lost in what you’re watching when you get distracted by what’s happening around you.

Younger kids might be entertained by the experience, and I can see it working slightly better with a shorter animated movie. Other than that though, I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone watch a 4DX movie, especially not a movie you actually want to watch. You’ll leave the cinema feeling like you’ve been inside a tumble dryer, covered in spilled popcorn and sorely wishing you knew what the heck was going on.

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Last Updated: May 4, 2017

Tracy Benson

All about movies, board games, cider, sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    As with most things in life, the more D’s you add the worse it becomes.

    • I don’t have even one D in my name… tralalalala

      • Hammersteyn

        hey! 🙁

        • Opps! tehehe

          • Hammersteyn


          • Hammersteyn

            Could be worse, could’ve been “Darryn Donthuys”

          • Original Heretic

            Sounds like a disease.
            Or something that should come with a warning label. “Choking Hazard”.

    • Original Heretic

      You said that, I immediately thought bra sizes.

  • “Instead, I was trapped on a rollercoaster for two and a half hours while a movie played in front of me”

    I am laughing so hard right now. That image in my mind is just glorious. HAHAHAHHAHA

    Sorry you had to experience this hey.

  • Nick de Bruyne

    That’s super interesting and really sounds like it’s NOT my cup of tea at all. I love the huge screen and sound that comes with IMAX, but I want my damn seat to stay where it is, this sounds awful. I can understand if its like the old IMAX that had “experiences” that you got to be on, like say a “Guardians of the Galaxy Space Battle” experience, but how… like… how do they even handle things like having a film cutting between a conversation on the ground somewhere and a space battle happening up in the sky “a la Star Wars Return of the Jedi”. Does the seat chill, THEN CUT TO CHAOS, then chill while people talk again AND THEN HOLY SHIT BACK IN THE SPACE BATTLE?

      • Original Heretic

        This is from Whiplash, right? I’ve heard it’s good, been meaning to watch it.

        • Excellent movie. The idea of this cinema gives me whiplash!

        • Nick de Bruyne

          OH! Me too, but good news.. it was just added to SA Netflix, so I’m gonna finally see it soon!

        • Kenn Gibson

          Amazing movie. Watch it. watch it now.

          • Original Heretic

            Watched it. Yup, freakin’ amazing.
            An emotional ride, to say the least.

    • Tracy Benson

      Many, many, many years ago, I did a Star Wars experience at Disneyland Paris where we were “in” an X-Wing in the middle of a battle. The whole room moved (so relatively, the screen stayed in the same place), and it had seat-belts! It was also not over two hours long…

      My point us that yes, if you had something specifically designed for it, and a different set up, then it works. When it’s calm then CHAOS then more calm then HELLO CHAOS then “what did they just say I couldn’t hear over the noise of the wind”, it’s not so much fun

      • Jean du Plessis

        You said X-Wing… #StarWarsDay

    • Tracy Benson

      Oh and bee tee dubs, it’s a normal size cinema screen, not even IMAX size

      • Original Heretic

        Makes more sense to do it in a smaller theater/screen. It’s probably quite costly to outfit the place with all the gimmicky additions.
        And, as you have so comprehensively pointed out, it’s not to everyone’s taste.

  • Thanks for this, was actually going to watch gotg in 4dx, guess just I’m just going to stick to normal viewing

  • I was supposed to go last night to this. But after the warning refused to. I have fond, nay, great memories of GoTG2, why the heck would I ruin them with this rubbish gimmick?

  • Jean du Plessis

    Not gonna lie… those vibrating chairs though.

    • Tracy Benson

      Well, ummm… ahem. Keep it SWF!

      • Jean du Plessis

        Out of curiosity, did they show 50 Sha… NVM. On a serious note, can you imagine a Western? Perhaps Spidey’s Homecoming could work… the application seems quite… limited.

  • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

    I already hate 3D with a passion and the bae wants to give the 4DX a try.

    But after this, screw that.
    I wanna be able to watch a movie for the movie – couldn’t give two shits about they try to “immerse” you into the movie …

    • HvR

      Also hate 3D, the flickering drives me up the walls

      • Flickering? What flickering? I’m sorry you and Trevor have such genetically inferior eyeballs! :p

    • Original Heretic

      A good movie will immerse you, no gimmicks required.

    • For the Emperor!

      3D, yeah not really a fan. When done RIGHT, it can be good, but most movies tack it on post production and it does not add any value to me. Pity Prestige is almost always 3D as I like those seats…and not standing in the queue for popcorn with the peasants!

  • Original Heretic

    I’ve done this kind of thing, but as a “ride” type of experience. A short, 10 minute or so event. That was fun.
    A whole movie like that, though? No way, nuh uh.

  • HvR

    Sounds like a “fun” night out at Ottokie’s place

  • HairyEwok

    Sounds like it is about the same experience as being pushed down a rocky hill in a Pick n Pay trolley.

  • Peter Pan

    I watched Star Wars The Force Awakens in a 4DX cinema. Not worth the money. I’d be perfectly happy watching a movie in IMAX.

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