Pay more for motion sickness
I felt nauseous five minutes into Prince of Persia, and it had nothing to do with Jake Gyllenhaal’s British accent.
The motion sickness was courtesy of D-Box Technologies, a Quebec-based company that produces “motion simulation devices,” individual seats that shake and swirl in sync with preprogrammed films. Folsom’s Cinema West Palladio 16 became the first area theater to install the pricey D-Box seating ($15.50 for a 2-D matinee) in one of its screening rooms, currently just two rows worth available for reservation.
No longer content to merely hurl shit at your face in 3-D, movies now want their two for flinching. D-Box seating is the latest “immersive” gimmick from an industry desperate to regroup its fractured market share with a unique theatrical experience. D-Box seats can also be purchased for home use, but Steve Carell already made a film about 40-year-old virgins.
D-Box is ideal for a film as execrable as Prince of Persia (seriously, would an American-sounding Persian named Gyllenhaal have been less authentic than one who talks like a third-year seeker on the Gryffindor quidditch team?), because the ever-jostling chair only aids a film that provides no entertainment of its own. I can’t see how a vibrating chair would help Raging Bull, but Rocky V? Couldn’t hurt.
On the plus side, the chair’s motions were remarkably well synced with the onscreen action—when Gyllenhaal got punched, it shook violently; when he slid across rocky terrain, the seat rumbled in rhythm; when an arrow sliced into its victim … it shook violently again. OK, so there’s a limited range of effects.
Ultimately, the D-Box is more immersive and less distracting than 3-D, which constantly encourages you to look away from the screen. Its value as an escapist tool shouldn’t be underestimated—at times, I even forgot I was watching Prince of Persia.