05
Mar
10

The thing about 3-D

Anybody who knows me will not be surprised to hear that, out of the various superhero movie projects currently in the works, the one I’m most excited about is the in-production Green Lantern film. I think Ryan Reynolds will be strong Hal Jordan, I’m very happy with the screenwriters working on the project, and the concept art that has made its way to the internet has been fantastic.

But yesterday, the confirmation came out from Warner Bros. that, when the film is released next year, it will be released in 3-D. And I let out a resounding sigh. I wasn’t surprised, mind you, I more or less expected this. But my reaction was simply, “Another one?”

I’ve seen a few movies since Hollywood’s current infatuation with 3-D began, and I’ve been resoundingly unimpressed. It’s not that there haven’t been good 3-D movies. There have been a few great 3-D movies. But I’ve yet to see a movie that was better because it was in 3-D. Last year, for example, Disney re-released Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and I rushed out to see them. I wanted to see them on the big screen again, because I love those movies. But I loved those movies before anyone put 3-D glasses on my face, and the 3-D didn’t make me love them any more. A Christmas Carol followed up at the end of the year. That was okay – not great, but okay – but it would have been the same level of okay without the 3-D. I didn’t feel the process added anything to the story.

On the far end of the spectrum, there was Avatar – a film I publically hate. The 3-D was fine, it looked fine against the admittedly impressive special effects, but it didn’t do a single thing to fix the myriad problems with the script. The plot was still hopelessly derivative of a zillion other movies (Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas being the best examples). The characters were still cardboard cut-outs with no nuance or depth to them. And the science was still just plain stupid. (I’m still waiting for someone to give me a reason why a non-mammalian alien race that doesn’t give birth to live young needs breasts. Well, a reason that doesn’t involve giving the internet fodder for Rule 34.)

Avatar was the most extreme example of a film that loaded up the pretty and hoped it would excuse bad writing. But it’s by no means the only example. And as I see more and more of it, I become less and less tolerant. “Pretty” isn’t enough if I don’t like the story. On the flipside, I will forgive weaker visuals if I find the story and characters compelling enough.

Back in the 30s, The Wizard of Oz proved that color was a technology worth pursuing, because it was a story that simply didn’t work without color. It had been done without color, but how many of you remember – or even were aware of the existence of – the black-and-white Wizard of Oz from 1925? Exactly. Color made that story work. And speaking of the silent era, how about The Jazz Singer? Suddenly, audiences used to title cards and a piano player in the corner of the room understood the power of synching sound to the pictures. These movies proved the technology as a storytelling medium.

I’m waiting for a movie to prove 3-D to me.

It hasn’t happened yet.


5 Responses to “The thing about 3-D”


  1. March 5, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve yet to see a movie that required 3D, though my sampling has been small. I’ve passed over a few because they were 3D. I just don’t have the money to spend on that luxury. Of course if I were just buying one ticket, maybe I wouldn’t balk as much.

  2. 2 bigwords88
    March 5, 2010 at 9:09 am

    The power of story, the quality of special effects and the marquee-fetishism of “Hollywood Stars” (and all the other sundry reasons which formerly governed a film’s success or otherwise) have been turned over on a BBQ grill, eaten, digested, puked up, then stuck back on the grill… The decision to film anything in 3D has nothing to do with the added attraction it will bring to the viewing experience, nor has the technology been implemented because a few directors really, really wanna play with the gimmick (any director who says they love filming in the process is a damn liar). You want to know the truth behind the corporate-sponsored talking heads? It has everything to do with the piracy issue, and nothing to do with viewer entertainment. You can’t (easily) copy a 3D film and sell bootlegs, or stick up a torrent within a couple of days of the film going on release, and that is the prime motivating factor in the decision to film everything in 3D.

    The people in charge of the studios are so stupid that they might even re-release all the Merchant-Ivory films in 3D… Stranger things have happened.

    • March 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      Actually, preventing piracy is the best argument IN FAVOR OF 3-D I’ve yet heard. I hadn’t even thought of that one. Doesn’t mean I like it, mind you, but that at least makes sense.

  3. March 5, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I’m with you. It’s a gimmick (and a tired one at that) whose sole purpose is to get more money per ticket.

  4. 5 Geoff J
    March 7, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Couldn’t agree more, this 3D lark is clearly Hollywood’s response to piracy, not a quality enhancing measure…


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