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Watching a movie in 4DX

The National (January 28, 2014)

After hearing that 4DX-enabled cinema had arrived in Dubai, I had to do some research to find out what it meant. The technology - developed by a South Korean company, CJ 4DPLEX, and brought to the UAE by Vox Cinemas - introduces motion, scent, wind and water to the normal audio-visual viewing experience. But how would that translate for a movie like Thor, the film I was invited to test? Would the ground shake during a battle scene? Would we have a downpour in the hall when it rained or feel the pelt during a gunfire encounter? I fall in the “late majority” group in the adopter chain. I haven’t gotten around to accepting 3-D yet, leaving with a headache on the occasions I have been forced to sit through such a movie. So it was with some trepidation that I entered the 4DX theatre at Deira City Centre. We were ushered to our bulky seats, designed to be attuned to the on-screen action through motion simulators. The chair sprang to life as soon as the movie began. Swaying, tilting and prodding with every fast-paced movement and angle change felt like an unsatisfactory massage. And as we were trying to orientate ourselves to the new way of cinema-viewing, we got sprayed with water from the front and had frequent gushes of wind hit us from behind during firing scenes. It felt like an assault at first, but I had my guard up the next time around. My friend, who accompanied me, felt a lag between the action on screen and the real-time effect, which were, obviously, meant to be in sync. The smoke effects, restricted to near the screen, and flashes of light during fight segments were an interesting addition, though. If I were watching a superhero film as a teenager, with such effects that transcend the reel and move into the real realm, I would have walked out an excited moviegoer. For those of us who have grown up content with a two-dimensional view of motion picture and head to the cinema to unwind, it may take a while to get used to. Until then, I plan to stick to an inanimate cinema experience. Vox has opened two 4DX-enabled screens in Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre and plans to open at least two more in 2014. There will be movie screenings every day with a current line up including Fast & Furious 6, Thor: The Dark World 3-D, Tarzan 3-D, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 47 Ronin and Paranormal Activity 5. Tickets are priced at Dh125. Vox also plans to introduce value-added deals and family packages later this year.