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'U2 3d'

The title says it all, but somehow doesn't say enough. A rock concert writ very large — it'll play exclusively in IMAX theaters for the time being — this digital extravaganza highlights both the musical artistry of the Irish rock band U2 and the visual wizardry of an outfit calling itself 3ality.

3ality? You bet: Filmmakers use dozens of 3D cameras to capture every move that Bono and his bandmates make as they strut and fret their 85 minutes in front of a sky-high Jumbotron screen. The lights come up on a long shot of the band performing in a massive stadium in Buenos Aires — an image unremarkable except for the fact that the pre-film credits appear to be floating about 10 feet in front of the screen.

For the next 30 minutes or so, the 3ality troops show off their technique: Microphones float mid-auditorium, camera-to-camera dissolves place performers inside other performers, and Bono lunges out into the audience so persuasively you'd swear you could high-five him. And perhaps the most vivid images are those that place you right in the action — crowd shots blending with the movie-theater crowd to the point that I was about to ask the guy in front of me to stop waving his arms in the air, when I realized they weren't his arms, but those of a guy in Argentina, circa 2005.

After the film's 3-D bona fides are sufficiently established, though, the cameras settle down a bit and let U2 take flight on its own. And with that Jumbotron pulsing behind them, they deliver a pretty mesmerizing show.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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