Sprudge contributor Eric J. Grimm sneaks coffee in tho Manhattan’s finest movie parlors for this, an ongoing series of film criticism on Sprudge. This week’s very special attraction is The Fate of The Furious in 4DX sensurround.
Sixteen years ago, NOS-fueled street races and a Ja Rule soundtrack went a long way toward creating a must-see experience. In a show of awe-inspiring endurance, The Fast and the Furious franchise, perhaps the most improbably successful original movie franchise, has gotten steadily bigger and more dazzling with each entry as it has expanded from its origin as Point Break with cars to a biennial save-the-world spectacle. The trajectory makes it feel like anything is both possible and necessary. When James Bond went to space, it was a cop-out. When Dominic Toretto and gang get there, it will be about damn time.
While the ragtag family of racers and hackers don’t lift off in The Fate of the Furious (that it isn’t stylized The F8 of the Furious is one of the cruelest teases in recent memory), it boasts endless car flips and explosions and a tank and submarine ice ballet finale that’s ludicrously charming. All of this is promised in the trailer and there was only one way for me to experience the madness: in 4DX.
4DX is a ridiculous immersive experience akin to watching a movie on a roller coaster. Your seats shake, wind, rain, and fog shoot out at you, and smells fill the room. For someone who wants to feel like I’m in car chase while smelling Vin Diesel’s sweat, it would probably be worth a steep $25 ticket. Having not experienced 4DX yet, however, I was concerned that it wouldn’t go far enough in making me feel like I was in the middle of those car chases. A little seat rumbling wasn’t going to cut it. To see how far the technology would go, I decided to put it to the test by sneaking in a cup of coffee, pouring it into a ceramic cup, and seeing if I could hold it steady.
I chose the Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 in beautiful Times Square, because it felt necessary to go all the way with what would surely be a sensory overload. Just three blocks away, the Fashion District Cafe Grumpy serves great coffee to mask the smell of so many Nuts 4 Nuts carts. Barista Jake Hendrix poured a coffee so lovely, it felt a shame to secure it in a travel mug and take it into a sticky movie theater in New York’s grossest neighborhood, but into my backpack it went along with some leftover endless apps from a nearby TGI Fridays. [American flag emojis]
I poured the Shamba from Burundi into my own ceramic mug just a minute before the film started. As lavender and lemon overwhelmed my taste buds, the movie and the theater itself kicked into full gear to assault the rest of my senses. An explosive opening sequence tilted the seats in every direction with such unexpected force as to spill my coffee all over my t-shirt. It took less than a minute for 4DX to show me how hard it went. While I could’ve used some warm air from the film’s many fires to dry my shirt, I was sufficiently distracted by how the seat-shaking experience gave me an intimate connection with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Johnson’s Luke Hobbs is already an aggressive force of nature in two dimensions, telling Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw that he’s going to “beat [his] ass like a Cherokee drum.” With 4DX, that incredibly hot promise is fulfilled. Every time Johnson pummels a punching bag, a human, or a car, your chair gently but firmly starts beating up your back, making for a uniquely erotic movie massage experience. Sure, the rest of it is all PG-13 violence, high tech nonsense, and over-the-top machismo but the gimmick of 4DX makes the thrill of the souped-up popcorn flick more intense, joyful, and as deeply felt as hot coffee soaking through my white t-shirt.
Cupping Score: 90
Notes: So. Nutty.