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Watch: Google’s first 360-degree VR film is sci-fi monster epic Help

By Simon Reynolds

April 21, 2016

Google has just given everyone a potential glimpse into the future of entertainment.

The tech giant’s first 360-degree virtual reality film Help has arrived – and it’s a pretty jaw-dropping tour of Los Angeles during an alien invasion.

The immersive five-minute short places the viewer in the middle of the chaos as meteors stream down from the sky, dropping some snarling extra-terrestrials into the action. A subterranean trip follows, before the viewer has one final alien encounter that hoists them up to the mothership.

It’s directed by Justin Lin, the man behind the Fast & Furious films and Star Trek Beyond, so Help boasts plenty of cinematic sheen. Anyone who’s seen Cloverfield or War Of The Worlds will find it all very familiar.

Help isn’t Google’s attempt to crack Hollywood, however. It’s more a showcase of what emerging virtual reality technology is capable of. When Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR arrive later this year, it’s over to Disney, Warner Bros and co to see what they can come up with. Failing that, you can always just stick with VR porn.

The reception for Help has already been positive, with viewers on YouTube praising its fluid storytelling and “brand new way to watch a monster movie”.

Lin’s short film comes as part of Google’s Spotlight Stories series, geared towards releasing “immersive” content on Android and iOS mobiles.

Help is very much an A-to-B on-the-rails experience, but what separates it from watching regular film and TV is the detail, hidden Easter eggs and sub-stories happening in every direction.

Dragging around your mouse pointer or tilting your mobile pivots the view, allowing for a full view of the entire environment. The scope for repeat viewing just to pick up on everything the film has to offer is what could end up selling Hollywood on this as the future of filmmaking.