Essentially 4D is a fully immersive, interactive experience where your cinema seat is made to shake and veer during car chases, you get pummelled with air during onscreen whirlwinds, you get hosed down during rainstorms or deep sea dives and you get blasted with the odour of stale alcohol and garlic when the leading man / lady moves in close for a tongue sarnie.
To be honest, there’s nothing new about this gimmicky approach to movie watching – most kids’ entertainment / holiday resorts have some sort of 4D cinema these days where we willingly pay an exorbitant fee to allow our kids to be waterboarded whilst watching The Smurfs because it stops them whinging on about wanting an ice cream for all of 20 minutes. But family holiday resorts is where 4D should stay in my opinion.
There is nothing cinematically immersive about having your seat shaken so hard you end up wearing the popcorn of the person sitting next to you or hearing the neurotics in the front row squeal every time a hidden air cylinder blows a couple of bars of pressurized cold air up their trouser leg. If anything this totally removes you from the film; it shatters the pleasurable suspension of belief that you have lapsed into in order to enjoy the movie and places you undeniably back into a darkened room with a bunch of people who will immediately become your sworn enemy should the fire alarm suddenly go off and you find your way to the exit blocked.
Books don’t need 4D effects. I didn’t need the smell of wet dog to assail me when reading The Famous Five or to hear the jiggling of female flesh when reading Game Of Thrones. And I imagine I would not need to have my hands manacled and tied behind my back to get the full effect of 50 Shades Of Grey. Though you might need to do that and threaten the lives of my children in order to get me to read it in the first place. Such artificial devices would break the spell that reading a book – submitting yourself to an imaginary world – weaves. It is the same with cinema. The only senses that need to be catered for are sound and vision. You can never fully recreate the entire gamut of physical sensation that the characters onscreen are being subjected to as part of the plot – so offering the audience piecemeal approximate sensations is not going to add anything to the movie at all. If anything it will detract.
And to be honest if you really need your seat to be shaken for you during a moment of cinematic jeopardy in order to feel the correct emotional response then you plainly have major empathy problems and cinema is not for you anyway.
Indeed, anything that involves being around lots of people or dealing with any kind of quantifiable human experience is not for you - you’d be much better off getting your kicks in a vacuum where nobody at all will be able to hear you scream and I can watch the end of the effing film in peace.