Cinema seats ready to shake, rattle and roll

D-box demo seats outside Hoyts at the Te Awa Mall are put to the test by film fans James Rooney, left, and Matt McFarlane.
D-box demo seats outside Hoyts at the Te Awa Mall are put to the test by film fans James Rooney, left, and Matt McFarlane.

I have always enjoyed seat-of-the-pants technology.

D-Box simulators, installed at Hoyts' Te Awa cinema at The Base in Hamilton, are exactly that – cinema seats that are programmed to react to films as they immerse you in the experience.

The D-Box simulator seats rocks and rolls with the movie to make you feel that you are there, involved in the action.

World War II aerial battles, for example, are more convincing as the seat banks and dives with the plane and rolls with it too.

At least that's the theory, as I'm yet to see such a movie on D-Box.

But it's pointless technology for more sedentary films, which probably would never get a D-Box screening.

It would have been easy to automate the D-Box seat's reactions to the action, making it an entirely mechanical experience. Instead the D-Box company employs programmers who decide how the seat should react to each scene, making the rock and roll, pitch and dive of each seat an editorial decision.

My first D-Box experience was a few months ago with the 3-D version of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

I said then that film's pod-race sequence was made for the D-Box experience, but I questioned some of the decisions to have the seat move with characters when the camera was locked off, but it didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the show.

The Avengers, which I recently saw for my second D-Box experience, was an entirely different monster.

I don't know whether The Avengers was made with D-Box in mind – I somehow doubt it given the limited number of D-Box seats available in the world – but it certainly felt like it.

The seat was much more in sync with the movie, or perhaps it's correct to say that the programmer who programmed the D-Box system for The Avengers was more in tune with the film.

And there were more point-of-view shots, which made it easy for you to feel as if you were in the film.

I kept my seat on full bore, although I was pretty shaken around in places as Loki and his alien hordes went up against Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor and their allies.

Yes, it's kids stuff, but it had an M certificate and was a lot of fun.

I didn't want to dial my seat down to the medium or low settings – you pay a 3-D premium and a D-Box premium bringing tickets up to $26.

But what really made The Avengers was the script which managed a great balance between edge-of-the-seat drama and comedy.

I quizzed five people sitting in my row about D-Box, one of whom had used it before.

Four of them had the same opinion as me. It was a great add-on for action adventure movies, but was priced as such that you wouldn't choose it for every cinema trip.

The fifth didn't like the pitch and roll, but enjoyed the movie.

Not sure if you'll like it, but curious? Go to the foyer of the Te Awa cinema at The Base and try the two demonstration seats.

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