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September 26, 2017

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Mayday 3DNA (五月天追夢3DNA)

Billed as the first 3D concert feature film made in the pan-Chinese community, "Mayday 3DNA" (追夢3DNA) interweaves select footage from the band's DNA World Tour with three narrative vignettes.

The film took two years and a budget of NT$200 million to produce. Starting today, it will be playing in 3,000 theaters all over the Pacific region including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Australia.

It is an understatement to say that Mayday — consisting of Ashin (阿信), Monster (怪獸), Stone (石頭), Masa (瑪莎) and Guan You (冠佑) — succeeds at mobilizing the crowd with gnostic conviction and entitlement. Now, a commercial monstrosity has been built around this core appeal.

It is expected that 15,588 showings will be held over September alone. Promoters enthuse that, with just one movie ticket, fans young and old can experience six concerts from front-row seats. They also encourage fans to bring family, friends, and glow sticks for waving along with the band — yay!

Much buzz focuses on the film's 3D technical flourish, as documentary director Qu Quan-li (曲全立) worked his heart out during the 17-month post-production to refine his stereoscopic vision. It is neat to see the musicians up-close in relief against the background, with smoke whirling around them. Various particulates — meteors, starlight, feathers, confetti and bubbles — also materialize intermittently to remind you of the novelty.

But that's pretty much it. Stereoscopy isn't the be-all and end-all of the cinematic experience. Its current use flattens the infinite gradients of visual perspective into flat cartoonish layers. On this subject, film critic Roger Ebert has written a wonderful article titled "Why I Hate 3D Movies."

Three Ho-hum Stories

With the band's decision to add a dramatic plot line, director Wen Yen Kung (孔玟燕) wrote a trio of stories set in three representative locales in the Pan-Chinese imagination:Guangzhou (廣州), Taipei (臺北) and Shanghai (上海). When asked whether concerts will be held in real life to reflect the plot, Ashin answered: "The setting could be anywhere, even on mars!"

The protagonists of all three stories wish to see Mayday's concert in Shanghai; the tickets are selling out fast too.

In the first story, a loving father, played by Suet Lam (林雪), who runs a successful fish ball (魚丸) eatery tries to fulfill his young daughter's wish of seeing Mayday perform. In this segment, Cantonese is used for vulgar exclamations while more full-fledged thoughts are delivered in Mandarin.

Bluntly put, this little girl is manipulative, selfish and ungrateful. To persuade her dad, she sulks, threatens to sue him, and evokes the promise he made at her mother's deathbed. Are we supposed to laugh here, or feel sympathetic for the brat as suggested by the mawkish keyboard music?

Fortunately, the apprentice who has long wished to learn the fish ball's secret ingredient gave one of his tickets to the little girl; the dad in return discloses his expertise.

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