4DX Cinema Launches In South Africa

December 16, 2015 marked some great moments in cinema. The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (read the SAMDB review of Star Wars here – by SAMDBs Andrew Germishuys), and the launch of the first 4DX cinema on the African continent, by Nu Metro V&A Waterfront, with the opening title being none other than Star Wars itself!

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Nu Metro signed an agreement with ACJ 3DPLEX, creator of 3DX earlier this year, resulting in the partnership that has brought 4DX to Africa.

As of Dec. 2015, 4DX is running in 233 screens in 37 countries worldwide: Korea, China, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Israel, Russia, Peru, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Czech, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia, Croatia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Venezuela, UAE, Vietnam, Philippines, USA, Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Hongkong, UK, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, South Africa, Slovakia, Panama, Trinidad.

SAMDB attended the preview launch of the cinema, and were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all the technology required to run this technologically advanced cinema experience. The demo included several film trailers, including Fast & Furious 7, and of course the flavour of the moment Star Wars. Almost anyone who watches movies would by now have seen this trailer a few times, but there is something to be said about feeling the rumble of the Millennium Falcon as it twirls and dives on screen, or feeling the wind across your face during a scene in the desert.

While the trailers provided a fun and energetic ride, full length features will not be throwing a barrage of effects at the audience for every minute of the film. Effects will be used where necessary, and appropriate to enhance the experience, but not overwhelm.

In all, it was a fun experience, livening up the cinema experience. While it may not be to the taste of every cinema goer, it’s bound to be a hit with younger audience members.

Trained ushers will be present should anyone have any questions or concerns.

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New GM For Nu Metro

We were also afforded the opportunity to meet the new GM of Nu Metro, Nitesh Matai. Having held the position of Marketing Executive since Nu Metro was purchased by One Fifty Capital in January 2014, this new appointment will continue the implementation of Nu Metro’s turnaround strategy.

Tech Specs On 4DX

With one 4DX cinema now open in South Africa, and another planned in the near future in Durban, what exactly should audiences expect?

The 4DX cinema at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront started as all projects do, with time of planning and strategy, culminating in six weeks where there was a complete overhaul of one of the older cinemas. A complete new steel floor structure was installed, to accommodate the force, of up to 0.3G, generated when the seats are moved.

To create this motion, groups of chairs utilise servo motors and and transducers (they do not use hydraulics). This allows motion to be smoother, and more active. This is certainly capable, and in movie scenes where there is a lot of movement, both on screen and on the part of the seating, feels very much as if you are part of the action.

Moving on to tantalising the senses, the setup includes effects for wind, water, scent, strobes, as well as the afore mentioned motion. These effects are delivered to the cinema as a digital file. This is uploaded to the system, and from there distributed to the 21 computers for each group of four seats. Other than these 21 computers for seat control, there is a computer that controls motion, one used for monitoring the system, and one that acts as a screen server.

The 4DX seat back, with nozzles for mist and scent.
The 4DX seat back, with nozzles for mist and scent.

Before any mist is released to the audience, it passes through a series of filters, ensuring it is free of any contaminants. Once purified, it is piped through a series of tubes into the cinema, from storage tanks, waiting to be used at the right moment.

Scents are stored and sent to the cinema as required, coming from a select number of smells, including floral and coffee, to name a few. These are not overpowering, serving yet again, to enhance the experience.

Sound comes in the form of a 7.1 setup, having upgraded they cinemas sound processor to a Dolby CP750. Featuring 8 channels of input, and a host of connectivity, this is a very versatile piece of tech. The processor is also network capable, allowing it to be not only monitored, but also controlled, remotely. Anyone worried that their movie going experience would be interrupted by some teenaged miscreant need not worry. There are a number of security measures in place to prevent unauthorised access.

A brighter image, in both 2D and 3D is provided by the Barco projector, with its upgraded lamp. This, coupled with the 9.7m wide and 5.2m high curved silver screen, image quality is leaps ahead of other screens, especially when it comes to 3D content.

The curved, silver screen used in the 4DX cinema offers superior brightness.
The curved, silver screen used in the 4DX cinema offers superior brightness.

For those creepier moments, there is a device known as the foot tickler, which is bound to make any horror movie fan jump at just the right moment, when activated. This is positioned at the bottom of the chair, just above the foot rest.

The foot tickler is sure to make horror fans jump a little more.
The foot tickler is sure to make horror fans jump a little more.

Wind effects are provided by powerful fans located on each wall. While these greatly enhance the sensation of being part of the on-screen action, they still don’t compare to the Cape Town South Easter.

Fans mounted on the side walls, used to generate wind effects.
Fans mounted on the side walls, used to generate wind effects.

An announcement by 4DX at CinemaCon 2015 detailed add-on features that will include rainstorm, snow and warm air, which when installed in existing locations, will further enhance the viewing experience and immersiveness.

Nu Metro sent their Head of Technical, Johan van Staden off to Korea, for 3 weeks, to acquire training in the new system, brining back this knowledge to share back in South Africa, as new 4DX installations are planned nationally in the near future, starting with the second setup at The Pavillion in Durban in the first quarter of 2016.

A Full Length Movie

A full length feature in the 4DX is a thrill ride. Perhaps subjective, and not for everyone, but a recent screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens includes both young and old, with giggles and exclamations of glee.

There is certainly no way anyone could fall asleep during a movie in 4DX. While the various effects are not active continually, and the motion not always present, you never quite know when something is about to happen. Taking sweeping camera moves into account, there is a new dimension added to the on-screen tension.

Effects are well timed, and responsive, ranging from subtle to all our war. This is certainly one for those who want to live the movie. Go be part of Star Wars, in a 4DX cinema, while you still have the chance.

For more information and to book your 4DX experience, call 0861-cinema (234362) or go to numetro.co.za.

 

Child 44 (DVD): Review

Film

A disgraced member of the military police is investigating a series of murders in the Soviet Union, during the Stalin era. Going against party norms to find the truth.

A compelling drama, and now available to view in the home. While the story is not of the type the might lend itself to repeat viewings, especially within a short period of time, this is still a compelling story.

Read the full Child 44 Review by SAMDB here.

Disc And Bonus Features

Child 44 is available now to purchase on disc in South Africa.

Video

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, so those viewers with the necessary hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen. There are no visible artefacts on screen, and the image is crisp, as far as DVD quality goes.

Audio

The soundtrack is presented in either a 5.1 or a 2.0 mix. The genre of the film however does not lend itself to excessive use of the surround channels, so these serve merely to enhance some scenes, further expanding the on-screen action.

Navigation

Navigation is very basic, yet functional, with a mix of static imagary and some scene clips as backgroun.

Bonus

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc.

Terminator Genisys (Blu-Ray): Review

Film

The iconic film Terminator Genisys is now available to own on disc. With the onslaught of effects, fast paced action, and complex story lines that no only deal with time travel, but also show and alternate path to previous events, this is one feature that begs repeat viewings, and stands up well to these, as you notice more story aspects each time.

Read the full Terminator Genisys Review by SAMDB here.

Disc And Bonus Features

Terminator Genisys is available now for purchase on disc in South Africa.

Video

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Users with the necessary hardware or software can scale up to a higher resolution or larger screen. Colours are vibrant, and the visuals have a crispness to them.

Audio

The soundtrack is presented in the ever more popular format of Dolby Atmos. There is ample use of the surrounds, especially in the many fight and battle sequences, totally engulfing the viewer, and adding to the on-screen action. One feels a part of everything that is showing on the screen.

Navigation

The menu screen is detailed, showing a few moments from select scenes. Navigation is simple, yet aligns itself with the aesthetic of the film.

Bonus

Family Dynamics: With input from both cast and crew, we are treated to a close up and personal look at the various characters and their relationships, in the film.

The cast also share some thoughts on their co-stars. And we get an insight to why they were cast, and why they are so ideal for their roles. it’s a delight to see how the cast respect each other as people and actors.

Visually, we get to see some behind the scenes in studio and on location, for several of the films scenes.

Infiltration And Termination: Some input from the director, and some of the producers, in the various locations used in the film, and why they were chosen for their various looks.

We are treated to some previsualisation of some scenes, a lot of behind the scenes access, and how these translated to the final product. Not forgetting a look at the practical and computer generated set pieces.

A great and insightful look at the filmmaking process, and sure to excite any film freek or student alike.

Upgrades: VFX Of Terminator Genisys: A look at all the many computer generated effects of the film, a mammoth task, considering the countless effects present in almost every scene.

One of the biggest effects sequences being the future war, which to date, has never been explored in great detail in any of the previous terminator films.

Entertaining for film buffs, and educational for film students, this is a great addition to a title that is so effects heavy.

Inside Out (Blu-Ray): Review

Film

Inside Out, all about young Riley, uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco. We see two stories in parallel, one in the world as we follow Riley overcoming all the new challenges she will face in this life-changing event, and the other aspect where we are privy to Riley’s emotions Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, as characters living inside of Riley, in a huge city full of memories, islands and thought trains.

The emotions come to life in the form of characters, each with a personality embodying their namesake. The emotions however have their own short-comings to overcome, and as Riley hits a low point in her life, in the midst of becoming a young teen, so do the emotions, each needing to learn and overcome their own issues.

It will take teamwork, learning and a bit of faith, much like Riley’s own problems, and mirroring life as we all know it.

The cityscape that the emotion inhabit is vast and detailed, yet as it exists inside Riley’s mind, there is licence to bring in many fun and interesting concepts. The real world appears in stark contrast to this, letting us see how life would be without imagination, or when we give up caring.

Inside Out is a colourful delight, with a strong story at it centre, and a message that one can overcome. In true Disney style, this is an enjoyable story, presented in a very unique way.

A fun title for the whole family. Inside out is available now on disc for purchase in South Africa.

Disc And Bonus Features

There is both a 2D and a 3D version of Inside Out available on Blu-Ray. The 3D disc contains the film and a few sneak peeks, while the 2D version has several bonus features available, along with an audio commentary.

Video

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Colours are crisp and vibrant. Those with larger screens will benefit from the higher quality image.

Audio

Sound is presented in a variety of formats, including 7.1, 5.1, 2.0 and a 2.0 descriptive audio mix. The main title, and bonus features make ample use of the surround channels, further drawing the viewer into the on-screen action, and making them a part of the fun.

Disc Navigation

This, as with other Disney releases, a top quality disc. Navigation is easy, yet still manages to keep that creative flair to it.

Bonus

Lava: A short musical, about the love (lava) that two volcanoes have for each other. Some very detailed animation, and an interesting concept.

Riley’s First Date?: A humorous look at what might be going on in each family members mind, when a boy shows up to take Riley skating. Short, funny, and rather accurate.

Paths To Pixar: The Women Of Inside Out: A look at the women involved in the making of Inside Out. Informative, and inspiring, but is likely not to appeal to the younger viewers. Perhaps it will inspire some of them in later years to follow their dreams, but would have no entertainment value.

Mixed Emotions: A brief look at the research that went into creating the characters in the film that represent each emotion, how those came about and the steps involved in finalising their look. This is sure to be of interest to budding filmmakers, while still holding the attention of younger viewers.

Audio Commentary: Presented by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen and covering three main themes, namely history, invisible story, cinematography (with input from director of photography Patrick Lin).

The commentary will be of interest to any movie aficionados, and as the filmmakers themselves state, film students. It adds a great dimension to the film, listening to the various techniques shared, and the creative and technical processes used. Perhaps not for younger viewers, but certainly an interesting and valuable addition to the disc.

Sneak Peaks: There are a few trailers to other Disney titles, as well as one for the Inside Out Infinity game.

All-Star Cast Of ‘Secret In Their Eyes’ Does Not Disappoint

Releasing in cinemas across the country in early January 2016, Secret in Their Eyes, is a gripping crime thriller which will keep you guessing until the credits role!

Based on the 2005 novel originally titled La pregunta de sus ojos (The Question in Their Eyes) by Argentinian author Eduardo Sacheri, Secret in Their Eyes stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts.

Secret in Their Eyes tells the heart-wrenching story of an FBI team, Ray (Ejiofor), Jess (Roberts), and their DA supervisor Claire (Kidman), who are horrified when they discover that Jess’s teenage daughter has been brutally raped and murdered. Marred by corruption, the case is closed and the killer set free, leaving Jess and her co- workers haunted.

Thirteen years later, Ray returns having uncovered a new lead – with a new can of worms opened, it appears everyone has something to hide…..

Secret in Their Eyes releases in South Africa on 8th January 2016 – an unmissable thriller which packs an A-list punch!

Don’t Miss Cate Blanchett And Rooney Mara In ‘Carol’

Releasing across screens this Wednesday, Carol is a romantic drama set in 1950s New York about a department-store clerk (Rooney Mara), who falls for an older, married woman (Cate Blanchett). This emotionally charged film is based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 semi-autobiographical novel, and received a standing ovation at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival premiere earlier this year. Further to this, Carol has been nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards, three NYFCC Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards three film critics’ awards, five Satellite Awards and five Golden Globes. No doubt, Carol will be a ‘buzz-word’ during Oscar season!

Carol – out in cinemas 16th December 2015 and not to be missed!

Lost River (DVD): Review

Film

Lost River, a surreal tale of love and family, a story about fighting for survival, and facing danger. Living in the derelict city of Lost River, Billy (Christina Hendricks) is a single mom, trying to look out for her two sons. However, she is part of a secret underworld, full of the nightmarish, macabre fantasies of others. Trying desperately to save their home and family.

With a large part of the city now submerged under water, and forgotten by all except a few, the interest of Bones is now piqued.

Lost River has a surreal feel to it. An almost detached way about it, from the silent streets of the derelict town, to the horrors of Billy’s underworld life. There is a sense of dread, and a feeling that time has passed the entire area by. This serves to mirror in the viewer, the urgency and anxiety of Billy and Bones, the need to escape, and the mystery of what may lie around the next corner, always moving, always wondering.

Ryan Gosling does a superb job of direction, coupled with cinematography that draws the viewer not only into the story, but positions them in a manner that feels part of the action, this is sure to thrill those who enjoy an existence just a little different to the every day world.

An interesting piece, that while not for everyone, is certainly going to appeal those an audience with a penchant for the darker side, where family triumphs, and each person’s individual strength serves the family whole, in order to overcome.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc, like almost all these days, is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen, even when scaled up to a higher resolution. Those with the necessary hardware can do likewise, or make use of a larger screen or projector.

Sound is presented in the form of a 5.1 soundtrack, however due to the nature of the feature, there is not a large use of the surround channels. The audio is crisp.

Navigation is really basic, with static menus, however these are functional.

There are no bonus features on the disc, save for some trailers at the beginning.

Lost River is available now to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Woman In Gold (DVD): Review

Film

Woman In Gold follows the story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an elderly refugee from Austria, enlists the help of a young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). Together they take on the Austrian government, in a bid to recover some pieces of artwork that were stolen from the Altmann family by the Nazis during the occupation in the second world war.

The film is an intriguing drama, as it reveals more about the plight to reacquire the art, while sharing Maria’s past, as a young girl in Austria, and the inherent dangers of that time.

Reynold’s portrayal of real life E. Randol Schoenberg is masterful, bringing a vulnerability to the role, yet allowing the character to portray enthusiasm and a fresh willingness to help Maria recover what is hers. Mirren’s Maria has a funny wit to her, resulting in some humourous duelling between her and Randy, and bringing some brevity to a very heavy, serious topic.

Woman In Gold is a gripping drama. While twists to the story are only slight, they do keep one waiting with bated breath, empathising with what the characters must have felt at that point in the story. The film also highlights a dark time the history, and makes sure we don’t forget such atrocities.

Not just an escape, but an entertaining window into the past, and the life of someone who lived these events, Woman In Gold is one of those gripping pieces of cinema, that has not got the widespread acclaim is deserves.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Users with the correct hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen.

Sound is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, and while the nature and genre of the film doesn’t lend itself to excessive use of the surround channels, there are several scenes where this does expand the on-screen environment, and further draw the user into the on-screen activities.

Disc navigation and menus are basic and statis, yet functional.

There are no bonus features on the disc, other than a few trailers at the beginning of the disc.

Woman In Gold is available now to purchase in disc, in South Africa.

TCM Documentary Delves Into George Lucas’s World Of Fantasy Cinema As Star Wars Fever Grips South Africa

fantasycinema-georgelucas

Star Wars™ fever is gripping South African fans, with the imminent release of the first film in the new trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Wednesday, 16 December. In its wake, popular movie channel TCM (on DStv channel 137) has scheduled a special documentary that delves into the rich history of this fantasy franchise and its famed creator, director George Lucas.

Screening on Sunday, 20 December at 11:25, the one-hour documentary forms part of the popular A Night at the Movies series, the ongoing TCM series of one-hour “Film Studies 101” specials that examine the many different ways that writers and directors explore a particular genre. In this episode, director Laurent Bouzereau examines the limitless world of the imagination as portrayed in ‘Fantasy’ films.

Entitled George Lucas & the World of Fantasy Cinema, the programme features an engrossing new interview with the famed director, whose name has become synonymous with the Star Wars™ fantasy franchise that has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Visionary director and producer George Lucas discusses the origins and evolution of fantasy cinema, the influence of certain films on his own career and the differences between genres such as fantasy and science fiction. He also offers his personal insight into what the future holds for the fantasy genre in film.

Along the way, Lucas examines a variety of influential films including King Kong (1933), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Planet of the Apes (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Back to the Future (1985), Labyrinth (1986) and, as would be expected in a documentary featuring such a famed director, an in-depth discussion of his own iconic Star Wars™ series.

Packed with clips from fantasy films across the decades, TCM’s A Night at the Movies: George Lucas & the World of Fantasy Cinema provides a fascinating look at the fantasy genre in cinema, through the unique perspective of one of its contemporary masters.

As Star Wars™ fans prepare to be taken back to a galaxy far, far away, one programme that shouldn’t be missed is A Night at the Movies: George Lucas & the World of Fantasy Cinema – only on TCM (DStv Channel 137) on Sunday, 20 December at 11:25.

 

Issued by Ogilvy Public Relations on behalf of Turner Africa: TCM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Review

SWTFA Logo

Not much needs to be said about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the world’s cinema going audience have already been queueing for weeks in some places to see this next instalment of this epic series. With the release of Episode IV, the sci-fi geek in everyone has been tickled.

Set thirty years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, the saga continues. Helmed by director JJ. Abrams we see the return of old favourites such as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and a host of droids (some funny and cute, some annoying as usual). Coming to the fore however, are new cast John Boyega as Finn and delivering a stunning performance is Daisy Ridley as Rey.

The Star Wars series has always been on the forefront of cinema technology, and will become the first film screened in 4DX on the African continent, in the newly installed setup in Cape Town.

Effects-wise, The Force Awakens does not disappoint, with masterful set-pieces, and effects that are out of this world. With a soundscape that envelopes the entire cinema. Audiences should most certainly see this in an establishment that has a 7.1 setup. Those viewing it in 3D should be aware that there are unfortunately many cinemas that are just not bright enough to do this justice, resulting in a lot of detail being missed, especially in darker scenes. Watch for updates to this review on the Imax and 4DX screenings.

As far as story goes, Star Wars keeps to its tried and true formula, of the heroes journey, favouring a simple plot, a straight forward quest, covering many spectacular location, planets, and space ships. The story thread being basic does not mean viewers aren’t in for a host of surprises, as events transpire, and more of the world is revealed.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is well worth the hype, coming up trumps in every department, from story to effects, from acting to directly. This is definitely one to go and see with friends and family, and is sure to be another classic that will be enjoyed by many generations to come.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in South African on 16 December 2015 in 2D, 3D, Imax 3D and 4DX.

Adding to the news and review on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Imax version is a sight to behold. For one, screen brightness is leaps and bounds ahead of the standard 3D screens (at least those used for the various press previews and screenings). This means that the fine details of ships in the blackness of space, are actually visible.

The larger screen size means that 3D effects are more pronounced, colours are more vibrant (not to mention brighter) and seemingly more clear. Audio is also more engulfing, with the larger speaker setup of Imax, completely immersing the viewer.

As a side note, public audience members took great delight in dressing up in costume for their movie outing, with a handful shedding a tear as the opening credits rolled. Certainly a testimony to the power of The Force.

The 4DX version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a new experience on the African continent. While enjoyment in this full immersive cinema is sure to be subjective, younger audiences were laughing with glee (and comparing notes, post movie, on where they jumped and how they were rattled about).

Space battles are a treat, akin to a fairground ride, with each explosion being felt, each barrel roll and each blaster hit. With strobe lights, smoke, wind and water (when on a planet), and of course, a lot of movement.

The smell of “napalm in the morning” added a new dimension to a post battle, and floral scents when in the midst of vegetation is a nice added touch.

Sound-wise, the 4DX setup compares to any other, with its 7.1 mix. However, screen brightness is sadly a little dark, comparing to other 3D cinemas, but not coming close to the bright, intense colour of Imax. Hopefully this is something that will be remedied.

A lot of fun for those who are looking to become part of the film. You certainly can not fall asleep during any film. A fun ride.

Spotting many new easter eggs, plot connections, and throwbacks to the previous episodes. Catch Star Wars in any of the many cinemas, as it soars past all box office records, living up to they hype.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-Ray review, by SAMDB