While everyone else was debating whether to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX or regular old 3D or whatever, I was in Bogota, Colombia, watching it in 3D and 4DX, a format that’s still unavailable in NYC despite hopes that it would (literally) rock New Yorkers by the end of the year. Unfortunately, if you want to smell an X-wing burn or feel what it’s like to get gutted by a lightsaber, you’re going to have to head to Chicago, which just got the country’s second 4DX theater.
Back in August, we told you that Regal’s Union Square and Times Square theaters were due to get the immersive viewing experience by the end of the year. But today a spokesperson says the theaters should be outfitted with motion seats “by this spring.”
That’s a bummer for Star Wars fans, because watching The Force Awakens in 4DX is worth the $19.75 admission (in Chicago) and maybe even the price of a flight to Seoul, South Korea, where the phenomenon originated. Your seats move to simulate the pitching and rolling of Han Solo’s aircraft as he battles the First Order, and air puffs out of your headrest as if lasers just whizzed by. When the Millennium Falcon skims the water, mist sprays on your face as if you were fishing for colos a few feet away. Wind gusts simulate the desert and tundra conditions of scenes filmed in Abu Dhabi and Iceland. And the gusts are pretty fierce, too – I saw one person’s napkin blow away. It’s like the Maxell guy come to life.
Maybe the coolest moment comes when someone gets gutted with a lightsaber – your seat punches you right in the back and keeps the pressure on you for a couple of seconds to make it feel like you’ve really been run through.
Oh, and there are fragrances, too: the theater is permeated with a campfire smell to amp up images of smoldering battlefields, and there’s a lovely herbal waft during the scenes that were filmed in verdant Ireland.
They could’ve done more with the scents, though: for better or worse, we’ll never know what Chewbacca’s breath smells like. And, unfortunately, no amount of hyper-realistic sensory stimulation can normalize Hannah Horvath’s sad little boyf as an intergalactic dictator, or the fact that when you put the guy from Inside Llewyn Davis in a bomber jacket, he looks a lot like Ponch from CHiPs.