13 Nov 2014

My local theater finally got around to getting D-BOX chairs, so with the new movie Interstellar, I simply could not pass up the chance to try the seats.  These seats are supposed to put you in the movie and make you feel like you are moving with the action.  Did they do the job and are they worth the money or are they more of a gimmick?  These were my two biggest questions going into the film.

First some trivia and details on the technology.  D-BOX was founded way back in 1992, though regionally they didn't start appearing as D-Box seats for theaters until around 2009.  The first film to be encoded with D-BOX was in 2009 on April 3rd, the Fast & Furious.  So for my region, it took about 5 years before they had them installed. 

As is typically the case, every seat in a D-BOX capable theater room are not equipped for D-BOX, only about 20-30 seats are, per the image below.

The first thing I noticed when I sat down was that they don't recline, which this makes sense, since they are moving chairs and also, for taller people maybe around 6'2 and up, you really cant lay your head back on the top of the seat.  I couldn't fit properly in mine at least and I'm 6'6.  That's not to say that the seats are horridly uncomfortable, but for watching long movies, especially Interstellar at 2hrs and 50 mins it could be uncomfortable at times.

Each seat has its own cup holder and its own sensitivity adjustment for the vibration and movement as you can see in the image below (high to low settings).

When you go to the theater, you reserve your specific seat at the window.  In this case mine was K-11.  You also pay roughly $8 more per seat to get the D-BOX experience, which is quite steep in my opinion. 

On to the actual experience:  The previews began, only 1 or 2 of the previews were D-BOX encoded, in this case it was the new Hobbit movie coming out in December that was encoded.  The seat rumbles from action sequences and gun fire or other explosions and as the characters on screen move from side to side or their vehicle moves you seat rocks back and forth, similar to that of a Disney ride but not quite as intense. 

I won't dive too much into the plot details of the movie Interstellar, so don't worry this is largely spoiler free.  The sequences shot in the truck, you get a feeling of movement and turning, which felt pretty cool for having watched movies for years in a non-interactive manner, especially so for first person point of view sequences, these seem to benefit the most from having a D-BOX seat.  During dialogue scenes, of course, there is no movement, you can focus on the characters, but be warned, if action is about to occur in an instant, it will startle you, often to the point where others in D-BOX seats also "jump" from the transition.  This type of thing can actually take you right out of the movie in a sense, the one drawback to this technology.

The space launch sequence in the movie felt like sitting in the chair of an Astronaut, it was rather spectacular.  They also try to emulate the weightlessness of space.  The chair feels like its very lightly rocking back and forth to simulate this condition.  This effect, to me, wasn't very convincing, but a nice attempt though.  Other spacecraft sequences do feel like you are right there in the heat of the moment, but not overwhelmingly so.  I mean the experience is definitely unique, but not so much so that it justifies the price of the seat for D-BOX.  There are a few other impressive D-BOX moments later in the film that will definitely have your seat rocking back and forth and putting you into the hear of the action.

Interstellar doesn't have a ton of action sequences compared to some other films, so maybe I'm being a little biased based on this fact (in saying other films would have maybe made a better first time experience choice).  Overall the D-BOX experience was good, however.  The cost was the biggest drawback and the one thing that might keep me from always choosing D-BOX as the type of seat.  This is especially true when you are paying for a full family to see a film at over $8 per ticket more, it's hard to justify the cost.  Either way I wasn't "disappointed" with the D-BOX effects, just not blown away, but I'd definitely try it again with a different film in the future.

Perhaps in the future the pricing will come down to Earth a bit and make the choice of a D-Box seat almost the same price as a regular ticket, then I would definitely be going for that seat each time, though only for high action films.  I do know one thing, if this ever becomes more home affordable, it will certainly find a place for my Flight Simulator setup.

I'm not going to dive into the mechanics of the movie and its plot but this film is definitely worth seeing and if you can chuck the change for a D-BOX seat, go for it.

The film itself I'd give a 7.8/10 while the D-BOX portion I'd rate at 7.5/10.  Below is a clip that explains how D-BOX works if you are interested in finding out more.


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