U2 3D

A documentary by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington. Rated G. Now playing at the IMAX Theatre at Canada Place

U2 frontman Bono has always been a master at making soul connections with the Irish rock band’s stadium-size audiences. And about a third of the way into U2 3D—while performing the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday”—he of the rose-tinted specs not only extends a beseeching hand to the ocean of concertgoers before him but reaches right through the screen and into the faces of startled theatre viewers as well. Duck! The hand of Bono is going to bless your forehead! Or so you think.

That effect is one of many eye poppers in this cutting-edge documentary that even the Nobel Peace Prize nominee couldn’t pull off without high-tech help. And forget U2: Rattle and Hum’s off-stage jaunts to Graceland and Harlem. Shot at South American shows on the band’s 2006 Vertigo world tour, this one is a pure, exuberant concert documentary—only with a bounty of digital 3-D cameras, plus some embraceable-you 5.1 surround sound.

Even if you’re no U2 zealot, the result is a breathtakingly immersive experience. When was the last concert you attended where one moment you’re deep amid a cellphone-waving floor audience, trying to see around that chick sitting atop her boyfriend’s shoulders, and the next moment the Edge has stepped off the screen right in front of you. That’s close enough for you to embarrass yourself by reaching out to touch his mike stand and close enough to marvel, once again, at the guitarist’s skullcap-cool mystique, now larger-than-life.

Remove the 3-D glasses and you’ll still hear exactly what ever-powerful pros Bono and company can do. But leave those glasses on so you can watch a passionate Buenos Aires crowd jump as one from “Vertigo” to “Sunday” to “With or Without You”.

“It’s a beautiful day,” indeed.