I felt that the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey spent too much time in the setup.  This time it is slightly different.  Now it spends too much time on the conversation between the Hobbit and the dragon Smaug.  I also think that the climax, splitting among different storyline, somehow feel less exciting than the predecessor.  The movies ends on a cliffhanger, and in a tone that reminds me of the Empire Strikes Back.  No matter what, this is one of those magical movies that everyone need to watch, in spite of whatever minor flaws it may have.

This is also the first time I try out the D-BOX motion chair technology.  It works exactly like those motion simulators in theme parks, with the addition that it has a setting of 4 levels of strength.  On the maximum level it still feels very mild, unlike some theme park motion simulators where it is very strong (I did get my head hit once on Back to the Future: The Ride).

The major difference actually lies with the content and the programming of the motion.  For theme parks, the content is designed for motion simulators, so most of the time it would be in a first person view, having some sort of vigorous action and is mostly continuous without scenes cutting back and forth, and the duration will be short.  In D-BOX, the motion is designed to match the picture.  So in an action scene, when we see monsters running quickly, the D-BOX chair moves in a way that mimics that motion.  When it cuts to the dwarves moving slowly, the D-BOX motion stops.  When it cuts to the monsters again, the D-BOX moves again.  This matching of motion to the picture cuts actually becomes slightly distracting.

Another D-BOX motion difference that I have observed is its movement in relation to the camera.  When the movie shows a breathtaking view when the camera moving upwards to change the viewing angle, the D-BOX also mimics a corresponding motion.  This is nicely done and I don’t recall seeing the same thing in theme parks, because those motion simulator video almost always choose to do something violent instead of spending time to look at a breathtaking scenery.

Naturally, the D-BOX also provides low frequency sound vibration exactly like those vibrating chairs do, although I feel that the D-BOX vibration is also less than the ordinary vibrating chairs that I don’t need to pay extra for.

While I love the strong motion from theme park motion simulators, the D-BOX comes sufficiently close and is definitely a nice addition to a good action movie.  Whether it is worthwhile depends on how much extra you need to pay for it.  For me, the only problem with D-BOX (other than the expense) is not the technology itself, or the motion programming, it’s the height of the chair.  It’s slightly higher than the normal height that I can sit comfortably.

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