Before Venom in 4D starts we are told that it is not a wise idea to leave the cinema mid-screening as we could be injured by a flying chair or confused and disoriented by smoke, mist and water that pours over patrons as they’re watching the film.
At a Friday morning screening, I sit next to a colleague from the Australian who has a broken collarbone. He looks slightly worried. We are warned that the effects may cause our bags to be flung off the seats, phones can be crushed and popcorn will fly.
I am not so much worried about the 4D element, I’m more anxious about the movie itself. Venom, the latest in a Marvel franchise has been given one star by Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw.
Would the combination of 4D and a bad film that I can’t leave create a feeling of entrapment and anxiety?
And what is 4D anyway?
It turns out it’s 3D (where with the aid of special glasses, the action seems to be coming out at you from the screen) plus extra effects in the cinema itself: water, wind, temperature changes, smoke, strobe lights, rocking and vibration. The largest 4D screens in Australia have opened at Event Cinemas George Street in Sydney (they are also the first 4D to open in Sydney).
Luckily Venom hasn’t got a complicated plot, because there’s a lot to take in with the visuals on screen and the sensory overload of the 4D.
The first scenes of Venom involve a rocket ship crashing to Earth, in a jungle in Malaysia. As the ship bursts into flames and survivors tumble out, our chairs in the cinema rock and shake. I grip my drink tightly.
This being hurled around in our seats occurs frequently – there are many chase scenes set on hilly San Francisco streets and lead actor Tom Hardy rides a motorbike. As he does an Evel Knievel-type jump, we are flung around once more. I worry about my friend’s collarbone – and also getting whiplash myself.
But it’s not just the vibrating chairs. When things blow up, smoke fills the front of the cinema. When someone on screen has a gun pressed against their back, something sticks out from our chairs into our spines. When a rocket is taking off, smoke hisses out from the base of our chairs as if we, in the cinema, are also going to launch into space.
When Hardy (who is very funny and charismatic in the film) changes into Venom and flicks his massive Gene Simmons-like tongue out, sprinklers come on and spray water in our faces. This is kind of gross because it is meant to represent being spat on by a flesh-eating alien.
Early in the film, there is a sex scene between Hardy and Michelle Williams. We’ve already had been shaken and tossed and subject to all frequency of vibrations.
I can actually feel the people around me getting tense as Hardy leads Williams to the bedroom. Are our chairs going to shake as they have sex? No. Please no.
Cut to post-coital cuddle and people my the cinema actually laugh with relief.
Maybe that is what we can expect from 5D: we’ll actually feel the pain when the lead character is impaled by a giant scythe and the pleasure of sex with Tom Hardy.
What a time to be alive.
• Venom is now screening in 4D at Event Cinemas George Street Sydney
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