This past weekend I went to see Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince in D-Box. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, it’s these seats that are programmed to vibrate, tilt, and otherwise move to give you a new experience of the movie. They started out in the home theatre market, currently serving about 15 titles, and recently expanded into the commercial market with Austin’s Galaxy Highland Theater being, as I understand it, the first movie theater in the world to equip itself with these seats. Harry Potter was the third movie that was D-Box Motion Code programmed for its theatrical release, and going to see it in this format was really the only circumstance under which I was even remotely interested in seeing this particular movie.
Now most of you probably aren’t wondering what the “D” in “D-Box” stands for, but I sure as hell was, so while the wife and I were killing 45 minutes before the movie started, I asked the guy taking tickets if he knew. He didn’t, so he got on his walkie-talkie and said, “Hey, I got a question for any manager. I got a customer here who wants to know what the D in D-Box stands for.”
Eventually a manager came out, and after 10 minutes of heightened anticipation as I waited for him to serve another customer with a complaint, he gave me the answer – “Yeah, it doesn’t really stand for anything. I asked the people who installed it, and they said that ’cause they were French, they used to refer to it as “da box” before they had a name for it, and then shortened it to “D-Box.”
Unfortunately, the evening went downhill from there. The theater has two rows of D-box seats, which I guess makes sense since I had to mortgage my house in order to afford the tickets. The problem is, they’re two-thirds of the way back in the theater, which means you can see the walls as you’re watching the movie. Something like this requires an experience – feeling like you’re inside the screen, so that when your butt gets shaken as a thunderbolt comes toward you, you think you’re there.
This was not that experience. Instead, it was kind of like watching a movie. But with vibrating seats.
Of course, it didn’t help that the movie itself sucked. I’m sure that Harry Potter fans loved it, and maybe it would’ve worked fine if you’ve seen all the other movies, but for the casual observer who’s only read Book 1 and seen movies 1, 3, and 4, it all seemed rather useless and shallow, like they were racing to get the plot up on screen, without contributing any depth to the characters or the situations.
The best example I can think of is the half-blood prince payoff. I’m sure that in the book it’s an amazing moment (and I may read the book just to find out), but in a night filled with anticlimaxes, that moment has surpassed the ending of Fight Club as the most anticlimactic film moment of all time for me. “Hey, by the way, here’s how it is! Mwahaha! See ya later!”
Anyway, I’m not terribly interested in ripping on HP6, ’cause quite frankly, I don’t care that much. I did care about the D-Box, though, and although I admire Highland Galaxy for their gamble, the payoff didn’t work for me.
Now, combine it with a 3D IMAX experience … then I’ll be interested.