For the past year or so the movie scene has been deluged by 3-D popcorn films. This summer brings with it a whole slew more–Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Curiosity about the new tech compelled me to see quite a few films in 3D, such as Bolt, Coraline, Toy Story 1 & 2 (the tacky re-release), Avatar, Tron, and Thor. Each time, I’ve plopped down usually around 4 extra bucks for the disposable glasses, then try to fit them over my prescription lenses. Very, very rarely have I been thus far impressed. I know a lot of older people haven’t got around to seeing the new 3D style, so I’d recommend trying it once or twice, but don’t waste your money.
Out of the films I’ve mentioned, the only one to have worked well in 3D was Tron. It was, for one thing, made to be 3D; the new tech wasn’t simply added later (like when Toy Story 1 & 2 were brought back in 3D). What also made it work was that the sci-fi world the film created involved mostly black backgrounds, meaning you weren’t given a constant blurry sensory overload. One of the worst uses of 3D was Thor, a movie I otherwise liked. Through much of the fight scenes, the 3D effect robbed the visuals of their crispness and instead looked like a constant blur. My friends have perfect vision and they agreed.
Roger Ebert is one of the big names who opposes 3D films. He’s pointed out again and again that the tech necessitates a sort of shadowiness in the background.
Also, when 3D is involved, the filmmakers can’t add to the screen the amount of details a 2D film can have. Look at the huge amount of detail Wall-E had (a movie made for 2D) versus the visuals on this summer’s Cars 2. Rango managed to create awesome character and setting designs by negating the urge to bring in 4 extra bucks per ticket. Lucasfilm has already announced they’re going to re-re-release the Star Wars movies again, this time in 3D, and, I’m sorry to say, I’m such a fan I’ll probably end up seeing them, albeit with a troubled conscience.
Finally, if you’re going to make a 3D movie, why not at least do it in the style of the 50s? Having the blue-and-red glasses will actually make objects pop up forwards (instead of expand back like most of the new crop). I chanced to see Dial M for Murder in its original 3D form and it was astounding. Also, in the fifties, there were other gimmicks involved. In The House on Haunted Hill, for example, during the climax of the movie a skeleton prop would actually drop down and dangle from the roof of the theater. In another horror film, The Tingler (a great B-film!), the seats of the theater were set up to vibrate when the Tingler monster was creating mischief.
In short, unless Hollywood goes whole-hog and brings in fun props and gimmicks, I’ll have to answer the question 2D or not 2D with a firm 2D.
To read my review of the Thor movie from my comic book site, click here.
To read my review of the new Green Lantern movie, click here.