D-BOX Motion Code is just what the doctor ordered for some movies. Case in point, The Happening, a movie that absolutely sucked but that D-BOX was able to resuscitate slightly with its nuanced movements and attention to detail. Another example is Max Payne, which just released on Blu-ray with D-BOX support and essentially gave fodder for conspiracy theorists everywhere. How else can one explain the apparently cosmic connection between Mark Wahlberg and D-BOX? Is it a contract in which D-BOX is responsible for saving Wahlberg’s Blu-ray releases? On its own, Max Payne is a bore of a film with good special effects, but when it comes down to brass tacks, Max Payne’s true multimedia experience has D-BOX to thank for its boost.
On one hand, it’s surprising to see D-BOX take the time to engineer Motion Code for Max Payne, because the film didn’t receive blockbuster status in the theaters, let alone much pomp and circumstance leading up to its Blu-ray release. It’s also surprising to see (well, “feel”) Motion Code in Max Payne because it’s used so sparsely and differently than you generally experience, especially considering the movie is technically an action film. Much like Max Payne’s plot and Wahlberg’s performance, the D-BOX support is nuanced and anything but over the top, a far cry from the normal expectations of a movie based on an action videogame. Fortunately in the case of the D-BOX code, that subtlety is not a disappointment.
On the other hand, it’s quite nice to see D-BOX support Max Payne’s release on Blu-ray because the franchise is related to video games, and D-BOX has only recently made its foray into the gaming industry. Granted, seeing D-BOX on a game-inspired movie is quite different than experiencing Motion Code on Need for Speed Undercover on the PC, but any time D-BOX even comes close to the game industry, it gets me all the more excited about the company’s eventual Motion support for the next-gen consoles (hello, PS3 and its Blu-ray support).
As mentioned earlier, the D-BOX Motion Code in Max Payne is used more subtly than in most action films. As expected, gunshots provide some fantastic thumps from back of the chair, but more often than not, you’ll find that the Motion Code accompanies camera movements more than anything else. “On Golden Pond” this is not, but at times, the subtlety of the Motion sure makes it feel like a gentle trip down memory lane. And for anyone familiar with Max Payne, you’ll know that while the story really is a trip down memory lane for the protagonist, it’s hardly a peaceful one.
Two scenes stand out in terms of D-BOX support in Max Payne, and for very different reasons. Both scenes take place near the end of the film, although the movie’s first few minutes hint at one of them. Those opening minutes portray Max sinking slowly to the bottom of a river. This “teaser” scene feels almost like the viewer is on a boat gently rocking on a lake. In the extended scene later, Max eventually splashed violently to the top of the choppy water, which of course lends itself well to some intense movements and violent (in a pleasant way) thrashing.
The second scene, and probably one of the most unique in all D-BOX tracks I’ve experienced, involves Max Payne experiencing a drug-induced hallucination. As Max yells and the ground rips apart, the shaking is effective but nothing too grand. However, when the skies open up, embers float through the air and Max feels like the world is spinning around him, the D-BOX actuators somehow are able to mimic the sense of dizziness, giving the impression that the viewer is actually spinning in circles. I honestly don’t know how D-BOX pulled this off, because the chair obviously never spins, but the feeling is spot-on to any dizziness I’ve ever felt, and it’s the first time I know of that D-BOX has actually implemented the “spinning” feel. Couple this spinning with the bumps that correspond to walls crumbling and valkyries flying around, and the D-BOX Motion Code delivers a level of immersion that you could never get through CGI visuals alone.
Does the Motion Code make Max Payne worth buying? Probably not, but that’s simply due to the movie’s shortcomings, not the Motion track itself. Still, D-BOX support definitely makes the film worth a rental, much like it did with The Happening. Marky Mark has his lucky stars — or a D-BOX executive — to thank.
Buy Max Payne (Unrated Edition) on Blu-ray at Amazon.com.
- Score: 7.8
— Jonas Allen