My Story: My First 4DX Cinema Experience

On Sunday October 19, 2016 I was invited to watch the 10:15pm showing of Deepwater Horizon in 4DX at 360 Mall. The last time I’d experienced anything remotely similar was back in the summer of 1997, at a Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 4D film (spin-off of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film series) at Epcot in Walt Disney World (near Orlando, Florida). I can’t remember much from that specific attraction because I was a kid at the time but I do remember wearing the 3D glasses and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Also, I distinctly remember being sneezed on which was the grossest thing ever, as water was lightly sprayed on us (the audience) in correlation with character sneezing on-screen. We were also jostled around a bit in our chairs. Based on that experience, I figured Deepwater Horizon in 4DX would be more of the same; being lightly sprayed with water, slight jostling of the seats, etc…

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Deepwater Horizon is yet another Hollywood Distaster Movie (which I actually enjoy). We’ve got a star-studded cast from John Malkovich (who is a pretty decent actor and incidentally was also featured in my favorite video game franchise Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare), Kate Hudson (adored by all girls alike for her roles in popular romantic comedies a la How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and the like), Dylan O’Brien (cute as button as Stiles the neurotic side-kick on MTV’s Teen Wolf and also starred in Maze Runner), Gina Rodriguez (star of the hit show Jane The Virgin), Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight), and Marky Mark (it feels like he’s been in everything, at this point).

The movie is a dramatization of the April 2010 drilling rig disaster that took place off the coast of New Mexico. You might probably remember seeing, hearing, or reading something about it because it was all over the news, for the longest time. As a matter of fact, it was actually recorded in history as the largest man-made disaster, ever. Even though at the start of the movie, they dumbed down the concept for us (the viewers) in the form of a school project (honey, can of soda, explosion), I still didn’t get it. So for the first 30 minutes of the movie, I was totally lost, but that’s fine because we were still being introduced to new characters (so I was still entertained). At one point, I literally choked on my nachos (John Malkovich‘s character has a New Orleans drawl in the movie, transforming “this” into “dis”, and “then” into “den”, you get da’ idea?) so that gave me a good giggle. Once the movie picked up pace and the action sequences started, I got a lot more into it, sort of forgetting about the “logistics” (the hows and the whys), and just enjoying the movie.

As for the 4D experience, let’s just say experience is right! For starters, two more of our friends who were also invited, had to back out because the wife had a bun in the oven and apparently it’s not recommended nor allowed for pregnant woman to experience 4D. As for myself, it had been a long work day and I could barely keep my eyes open so I’d chugged a Venti-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte on my way to 360 Mall. Honestly, I’d smuggled my drink in (the waiting area) but once I saw the signs dissuading us from bringing hot drinks into 4D movies, I decided to chug what was left before tossing the whole thing out, because even though it wasn’t that hot anymore, I just didn’t want to risk spilling anything on myself. Big mistake. As the camera would pan in showing us the underwater sequences, our chairs would dip forward ever-so-slowly, giving us that sickening stomach-dropping sensation. It was also coupled with gusts of cold wind every now and then but I didn’t mind that as much. When the main characters were transported from the mainland to the drilling rig on a chopper, we were jostled from side-to-side for the duration of their flight. It wasn’t violent jostling but it wasn’t light jostling either. I felt that my drink was going to come right back up, to the extent that I jokingly (read: not jokingly) asked my friend if she’d be okay with me projectile vomiting on her. Her reply was, “Please, don’t”, so naturally I had to oblige and keep it down but I did the next best thing I could think of; stuffing my face. I started munching on my nachos hoping it would settle my stomach (hey, I dunno how Biology works, okay?). When the first explosion took place on-screen, in addition to the jostling of our seats and the gusts of cold wind, I felt a thump at the back of my chair. It wasn’t painful at all but it was annoying, akin to when a kid sits behind you on a plane and keeps kicking your chair. As we saw the aftermath of that first explosion on-screen, the lights started strobing and fog appeared at the front of the theater. I also started noticing a strange scent but figured it was probably due to the fog. That’s also the first time I noticed the “rain” as I felt a single droplet of water on my forehead. Suspecting the worst, I ran my hand over my hair and found that my hair was indeed damp as it had been “raining” on and off ever since the movie began. Every 4D chair gives you the option of turning the water on/off but I chose to keep it on. I was wearing a sleeve-less, high-low, zip-front, hoodie so I just pulled up the hood, to cover my hair. So to recap, you’ve got jostling of the seats, cold gusts of wind, flashing lights, mists of rain, fog, a strange scent, and the whacking of the back of your chair. Once the action sequences began, we (the audience) were under a constant barrage of 4D effects. I use the term “barrage” because honestly that’s what it felt like. It was fun, at first, even funny, but I don’t know anyone who can actually concentrate on a movie while experiencing all the 4D effects back to back (if not at once). No wonder our pregnant friend wasn’t permitted. No joke, she would have probably gone into induced labor from all that jostling around!

If you’re going to watch a movie in 4DX, I’ve come up with a short list of tips based on my experience. Although you have the option (in your chair) to turn the water “off”, don’t wear anything that might be affected by a light mist of water (such as suede, etc…). Why risk it? That includes complicated hairstyles too, as the target of said “rain” is mostly concentrated at the crown (top of the head). The only reason I was wearing a hoodie was by chance (because it was gray and matched my gray skinny jeans) but wearing a hoodie to a 4D movie is a good idea. Although they barely last for more than a few seconds, those gusts of wind can leave you pretty chilly, so something long-sleeved would be ideal as well. Ladies, a supportive bra is a must, especially with all that jostling around. Even if you’re an A-cup, wearing a balconette bra or a push-up bra can and will lead to a wardrobe malfunction. Finally, under no circumstances should you drink a whole thing of liquid (water, tea or coffee, soda, juice) as it will be sloshing around in your stomach making you feel nauseous for the duration of the movie.

Apparently 4DX was developed and is owned by a South Korean company. There you go, more awesome stuff from Korea! Can you imagine experiencing a horror movie in 4DX? It would be so awesome! I mean, I’d legit have a heart-attack! Personally, I actually enjoyed my first 4DX experience (aside from the thumping of the back of my seat which I absolutely hated) and I’d totally go again!

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