We’ve been denied The Bottom Tickler.
Sure, it sounds like the name of a D-list supervillain. Or the title of one of those true-crime movies on Lifetime. But it’s cutting-edge technology, nonetheless.
If ever there were a city that should have been able to support such a thing, it’s Las Vegas. Yet, when CJ 4DPLEX unveiled its 4DX movie machinery Friday inside Auditorium 4 at Red Rock Resort — equipment that includes seats that move in sync with the film while air blasts your head, fog rolls in and, for some reason, water pelts you during rainy scenes — there was no Bottom Tickler.
Apparently that’s an option that theater owner Regal declined.
Instead, we’re supposed to make do with something called The Bottom Shaker.
What are we, animals?
It’s been a long road from 4DX’s South Korean roots to Las Vegas. Launched in 2009, the experience didn’t secure a permanent foothold in America until 2014 with a theater in downtown Los Angeles. Five years later, the Red Rock venue is still a rarity in the U.S.
I’ve been sampling the equipment at CinemaCon at Caesars Palace for years, but that’s as part of three-minute demonstrations. How do all those effects hold up during the three-hour “Avengers: Endgame”? The simple answer is, it’s a lot.
A 4DX screening is closer to a theme park attraction than a traditional movie.
At $22.90 for a matinee and $24.90 in the evening, that amounts to a $12 surcharge compared with a regular screening at Red Rock and an $8 add-on to 3D shows.
Far from the plush recliners that have become commonplace throughout the valley, the seats require you to step up into them and are comfortable only in certain positions. Four to a pod, the chairs move as one as they pitch, roll and heave. Depending on your constitution, the seats may not be all that heaves.
In addition to the fog and rain, strobes simulate lightning and, when appropriate, the theater can deploy snow, scents and bubbles.
As for the other effects, The Bottom Shaker is joined by The Back Shaker and motions that, for lack of better names, could be referred to as The Shoulder Kicker and The Kidney Rumbler.
When it rains …
Thor’s ax arrives on-screen accompanied by a sideways jolt. The seats gently sway to simulate flight. For stretches, there’s no movement at all, and you can lose track of just what the theater can produce. Then, without warning, you’re being jostled about in ways that land somewhere between airplane turbulence and those old-timey exercise machines with the vibrating belts.
Guzzle some gin, chase it with a little vermouth and, by James Bond’s standards, you could spit up the perfect martini.
The rain, though, feels unnecessary.
It doesn’t exactly turn the theater into a SeaWorld splash zone. The water ranges from a few droplets to approximate blood — good luck during a Tarantino movie unless you’re dressed like a longshoreman — to a light drizzle during a scene in a rainstorm that will leave you unpleasantly damp.
You’ll never notice how often water falls in a movie until you begin to flinch whenever you see it.
And, yeah, that water will collect on your 3D glasses.
Seriously, who is this for? Despite living in the desert, I know what rain feels like. I have sense memory. I don’t need this, just like I don’t need flames shooting down from the ceiling to appreciate on-screen heat.
Some 4DX advice
“Water on” seems to be each chair’s default setting. Thankfully, there’s a button on the armrest to turn off the downpour.
Another tip? Maybe don’t eat a full meal right before a screening.
Also, don’t try eating during the movie unless you want most of your snacks to be shaken out onto the floor.
If you leave for a bathroom break — “Avengers: Endgame” is three hours long, after all — or replacement concessions, be careful sitting back down. Depending on what’s transpiring on-screen, it can be like throwing a bowling ball inside a working washing machine and then trying to leap on.
Consider a mouth guard.
Don’t go with romance on your mind. All that bouncing around should cut down on mid-movie make-out sessions while simultaneously making it far easier to inadvertently get to second base with the stranger seated next to you.
And if you feel something slapping against your calf, relax. It’s just The Leg Tickler.
Upon closer inspection, it’s a thin hose that, when air is passed through it, moves around wildly, slapping anything within its reach.
On second thought, if that’s any indication, maybe Las Vegas isn’t ready for The Bottom Tickler after all.