New This Month on Within
Within has four new experiences on offer for the month of February. Here’s a closer look at what’s on view.
Lego Batman: The Batmersive VR Experience | Available 2/7
In tandem with this month’s release of “Lego Movie 2,” check out this 5-minute immersive experience that puts you in the front seat of the Batmobile for an unforgettable ride-along with Lego Batman himself.
Batman (Will Arnett) thinks he’s the only one with abs of steel and a rock-hard biceps. Until he meets you, that is. Audition to be the prickly superhero’s sidekick via a whirlwind of dazzling sequences designed to put you at the heart of the action. Strut your stuff as you fly over a darkened Gotham City, tangle with some crazy chickens and confront the joker (Zach Galifianakis) and his team of super villains inside a burning warehouse.
Celebrate your virtual dominance by dancing with Wonder Woman and Superman at a thumping party, and wrap up the evening with a steaming plate of lobster delivered to the Batcave by your trusty advisor, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).
With VR production by the award-winning digital studio, Animal Logic, “The Batmersive Experience,” will tickle your funny bone and delight your inner child, the one who never gave up on that secret dream of becoming a superhero.
Crow: The Legend | Available 2/14
John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Constance Wu and Diego Luna are the A-list voices behind this groundbreaking 22-minute, 360-degree virtual-reality experience that brings a well-known Native American folk tale to vivid life.
Since it was originally released last September, the experience has had critics raving. Many say “Crow: The Legend” just might be the most narratively successful VR experience to date. The industry largely agreed, and earlier this month the film won the Annie Award for the best virtual reality production.
This was the first year that the Annie granted an award in the VR category, an acknowledgement of the growing prestige and influence of the exciting field.
“Crow: The Legend” is the third VR experience from VR startup, Baobab Studios, and its most ambitious production to date.
Viewers take an active role in the narrative as the “spirit of the seasons.” They create the story’s main conflict by making it snow — and thus bringing winter to a group of adorable anthropomorphized animals who have never experienced the cold before, and whose very existence is threatened by it.
Enter the Crow (John Legend). He’s the one tasked with flying to “The One Who Creates Everything By Thinking” (Winfrey, of course!) in order to ask that she bring back warm weather. Viewers, once again, join the action when they discover they can direct an asteroid symphony in the sky.
Written and directed by Baobab co-founder and chief creative officer, Eric Darnell (co-director, “Madagascar” and “Antz”), “Crow: The Legend,” will win you over with its mix of warm and fuzzy animation, immersive audience participation and compelling story of friendship and self- sacrifice.
Send Me Home | Available 2/21
This 13-minute immersive documentary explores the psyche, and post-prison life of Rickey Jackson, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975 and served 39 years in prison until the Ohio Innocence Project helped exonerate him in 2014.
The 360-experience takes viewers inside the prison walls that penned in him, beginning when he was 18 years old, and moves on to show the beautiful house and loving family that he acquires after his release.
The film is narrated by Jackson, whose intensely personal account of his ordeal alternates between his path to forgiveness, the psychological horror of jail and the joy he finds in the small moments of everyday life.
“Death Row is a prison within a prison,” he says at one point. Later, he shares that his exoneration felt like falling asleep at 18 and waking up at 60.
Interestingly, and definitely by design, the film does not reveal the details of his case, focusing instead on the beauty of his rebirth. But it is helpful to do your research and know that Jackson was convicted of brutally murdering a businessman named Harold Franks outside a grocery store on the east side of Cleveland.
He, along with two friends, were sentenced to death based solely on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who later recanted his testimony in the presence of a minister.
In the course of the film, we realize that Jackson has chosen to savor his new lease on life, instead of getting caught up in resentment towards his accuser and captors. He wakes up at 5:30 a.m. every day to live his dream life: mowing his lawn, washing his cars, and spending time by the pool and the grill with his family.
“I don’t want to miss a second of the day,” he tells us, and through the power of VR, we see first-hand how true that is.
Anote’s Ark | Available 2/28
The perils of climate change come into chilling and immediate focus in this 10-minute VR experience, which is a companion piece to a documentary by the same name. (The doc was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.)
The film whisks viewers to the remote Island nation of Kiribati, which is located in the central Pacific Ocean and has a population of just over 110,000 native people called the Gilbertese. The island is gorgeous, with white sand beaches, thatched huts and pristine waters. It is also in immediate danger of being swallowed by the sea due to a swiftly rising ocean.
The experience is narrated by the republic’s president, Anote Tong, who is engaged in an impassioned fight for the survival of his beloved homeland. Tong asks world leaders to take immediate action because his country is on the front lines of climate change.
For those who don’t comprehend the seriousness of the island’s imminent disappearance, Tong argues that what happens to Kiribati is a litmus test for what will eventually happen to large parts of the rest of the world.
The experience conjures the clear and present danger facing the island by immersing viewers in the villager’s daily routines and showing the extreme lengths they have gone to protect the only home they know.