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

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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.

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.

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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.

Last Updated: May 4, 2017

Tracy Benson

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

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