Within

withinMy apologies to my faithful readers for not offering up a review last week. As for why, I was a bit distracted by something new that I wanted to pass along some thoughts about this week. And that, is the new frontier of VR (virtual reality) which I have the fortune to experience through PS4 VR. I’m not going to go into a review of the PS VR itself but rather some of the films I saw through this amazing medium, for you see, this is the next step, the next evolution of storytelling for us filmmakers and you, the movie enthusiast…

Within is a viewing app that delivers VR content to your device. Through Within you can watch everything from an incredible U2 music video to a documentary about scuba diving in an amazing reef, to sitting in the audience during an SNL taping. There’s some great short film and animations on here too. The experimental Take Flight starts you on the street level of a city and suddenly elevates you into the night sky to witness several people floating in the clouds in various poses of playfulness and slowmo action. By the way, a couple of the people you’ll be floating with include Michael Fassbender and Benecio Del Toro.

In terms of immersion, there’s nothing like VR and it’s hard to give it justice with just words. Suffice it to say, you’re in the center of whatever experience you choose to explore. The U2 video for instance puts you on stage with the band just before their concert. Only, you have U2 all to yourself and they’re all singing right to you as you’re sitting in the middle of them. From there, the video morphs into different rooms with different musicians from all around the world as they join in on the song itself. I’ve never been so emotionally moved by a music video in my life to the point where tears were just pouring out of my eyes almost beyond my ability to stop them from coming…

The animation based Invasion! (narrated by Ethan Hawke) places you into the film as a character which serves as witness to the 3D bunny who has an encounter with some alien visitors. While the film isn’t an interactive game, it still kind of feels that way even though the story plays out in an automatic way. It was like being digitally transferred into a Pixar movie, especially when the main character comes up and starts sniffing you. The Evolution of Verse is like a moving, breathing art piece that unfolds in front of you as you’re transported from one animated presentation after another that will leave you breathless and inspired. For any fans of Mr. Robot on the USA network, there’s something here for you too as they’ve developed a short story from the show specifically produced for VR.

I normally stick to film reviews from theaters and outlets such as HBO and Netflix on this blog but I’m feeling compelled to continue reviewing more coming from VR… Just so you know dear readers, my blog will evolve as the tools for storytelling do.

reviewed by Sean McKnight