Sunday, February 19, 2012

Discuss: 3D Movies

Karen: With the Star Wars prequels starting to hit the big screen again, this time in 3D, and most of the big summer movies coming out with 3D versions, we thought we'd throw out this opportunity for you to have your say regarding the whole 3D phenomenon. Are you a fan of 3D films? Could you not care less? Have there been some films which you thought did a great job with 3D, while others perhaps were less successful? Karen: I'll start the ball rolling by saying that I've seen films in the old anaglyph format, with the little cardboard red and blue-lensed glasses. It was fun, but pure gimmick. Today's 3D seems to vary wildly. I enjoyed Disney's Tangled in 3D, and I think animated films may fare better in 3D than live action ones. I thought the 3D in Avatar was amazing, although I thought the film itself was incredibly boring. The heavy glasses required are kind of a pain. Honestly, I'd just as soon see a film in 2D. What say you all?


William Preston said...

I've avoided seeing narrative films in 3D. I don't like the cost, the glasses (I wear glasses, so the extra specs are a hassle), or, typically, the movies that opt for 3D. I've never seen Avatar because I don't care for most Cameron work.

On visits to the Smithsonian's natural history museum with class groups, I've seen 3D films that I thought were effective—though, even there, it always seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

The one truly terrific use of 3D was on the U2 concert film, which my then-high-school-aged middle daughter and I attended several years ago. The experience was immersive—at times, you felt like you were in the audience—and smart, with each song directed differently and approaching how to employ 3D differently. It was a great experience.

Rip Jagger said...

I'm cheap. I refuse to pay the price for a 3-D ticket on those few trips to the actual theater.

3-D will not help a bad movie, nor particularly enhance a really good one. Movies succeed by the strength of the story and that works regardless of the flash and dash of the technology.

Strip out 3-D, widescreen, color, and sound and you still have compelling movies.(Nosferatu, Metropolis, etc.) That stuff ain't necessary, though it might be fun from time to time.

The recent Star Wars releases just make me tired as this "event" gets crustier and crustier as the time claims George Lucas.

Rip Off

Anthony said...

I'm not really a big fan of 3-D movies. I think it's more of a distraction. The only modern movie I've seen in 3-D was Transformers Dark Of The Moon and I only went to that because a friend wanted to
see it. I think because I wear glasses that makes a
difference especially with the old flimsy 3-D glasses from years back.

Before that I did see some fun 3-D attractions at Disney World. One might have been some sort of nature film. I can't remember exactly it's been so long but the other had a Hitchcock theme. Both were fun because they were short and the gimmick was the whole point. The 3-D itself was also much better in the controlled environment of a Disney theater than it would be in your local cinema back then. The technology today has caught up but still I feel it is a distraction.

I did get caught up briefly in the short 3-D revival in the 80s.Those were some pretty bad films. I saw Spacehunter, Metalstorm The Destruction Of Jared-Syn and Jaws 3D.

dbutler16 said...

3D doesn't particularly interest me, though I do think that the space battles in Star Wars would be cool in 3D, so I might watch it just for that.

William Preston said...


Strip out sound? I used to teach a film class; sound design is as important—and sometimes more important—than the visuals!

pete doree said...

Genuinely couldn't care less whether a film's in 3-D. Here's what sums it up for me: Yesterday, on Radio One I heard a little kid being interviewed about going to see Star Wars in 3-D. This kid had obviously seen the film as many times as we have, and he said ' The 3-D wasn't very good '
Which kind of defeats the whole point of him going to see a film he's already seen.
And yeah, Avatar is unbelievably boring. Like a lost Heavy Metal strip from the '70's but instead of sex & nihilism, we get 'a message' movie.

david_b said...

Rip, et al:

Ditto on 3D. It's an expensive gimmick without a lot of lasting power for our generation.. Perhaps in a few decades it will become some standard with video games, and our grandkids will see it as normal. But in serious story-telling, I equate it to 'pop-up' story books.

As for sound effects, extreme agreement. I thoroughly enjoy radio dramas, and the 13-part SW radio drama for NPR was SO fantastic.. I loved turning the lights off at night and letting the sound effects paint the mental pictures for me within my headphones.

I haven't been much of a SW fan since 'Jedi', but I recall that radio series was simply incredible.

Rip Jagger said...

Sure. Silent movies can be and are compelling. Sound is an important element, but then so is color to certain films. All of the tricks are important, if used in significant and important ways, but none of them are critical to the ultimate delivery of a fascinating story.

Rip Off

MattComix said...

The late, great John Candy sums up my opinion on 3D:

humanbelly said...

@Rip, William, & David B--

Just an addendum regarding sound in films:

No less an authority than Bernard Herrmann, during a recorded lecture on Hitchcock films, asserted that cimematic films simply cannot exist w/out music. Wouldn't even take it into consideration. And music, of course, is sound-- even in silent films. ALL of those films were deliberately scored, because the filmmakers were fully aware that they cannot convey the proper emotional impact w/out some sort of auditory support. In instances where there is no sound or music, then the lack of sound is its own de-facto choice. "Silence" is the conscious sound for that moment. Think about wathching METROPOLIS or THE GENERAL or BIRTH OF A NATION (horrible film yes, and lordy, one could do w/out that annoying trumpet call. . . ) or THE GOLD RUSH or any of the other great silent films in . . . silence. Rather than becoming involved, one becomes a spectator.

(No big vote for 3-D films here-- even the improved tech doesn't seem to work reliably or consistently. Especially when you're out to the sides of the house. And, nah, doesn't do a thing for improving the storytelling. . . )

Sorry to tangient off so wildly--


Edo Bosnar said...

I agree that it's just a gimmick, and I really don't understand this most recent 3D craze. I can sort of understand using it for children's movies and/or animated features, but not more mainstream action SF or action films that are also geared toward adult audiences.

baab said...

avatar was a wonderful experience
thor was a mess

but i understand that the new spiderman movie will be very good in the 3d format....
who knows.

Lemnoc said...

When the previews for Star Wars 3D screened in my local theater, the entire audience squirmed and made graoning noises like they could not care less. In other wordsm, the concept and the conceit bombed.

After decades of beating the dead horse, screwing the pooch, and endlessly OCD polishing his trophies with ill-advised retcons, distracting CGI tweaks and gawdawful story choices, I think G Lucas has totally hollowed this one out--screwed it to death. I know I would rather have my teeth pulled out through my nostrils without aid of anesthetic than see Jar-Jar Binks doing the Rasta slap-dash in 3D.

My prediction is the whole gimmick of retconning tired films into tired-looking 3D will soon implode in on itself.

david_b said...

I couldn't take in Avatar.. They showed it on my 22hr flight back from Kuwait.. Luckily I had an iPod or just slept. I understood the story fine, and it was very beautifully-created visually, just didn't hold my interest.

Garett said...

I watched Dial M for Murder a few years ago, and noticed some of the compositions were unusual, interesting--I liked them. Later found out Hitchcock filmed it in 3D. Perhaps he was composing with 3D in mind?

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I would have to say it depends on the movie. I saw the new Tron movie and it was spectacular. It was made for 3D. Some movies don't need the format because there are not enough scenes where objects or people are not coming towards the viewer. I don't know how Star Wars is going to accomplish this. It was never created with 3D in mind. It was never intended to be in that format. If Lucase made an original Star Wars film in 3D we might get what we paid for.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

When I saw the bad reviews on the new Tron film, I didn't get it. The movie was made for the visual experience. We are not talking about anything deep. The reviewers were judging the quality of the film as if it were a Terms of Endearment type of drama, which it isn't. It was a sci fi roller coaster ride that didn't have any special social message. It was pure entertainment for the eyes to take advantage of the 3D format.

david_b said...

...And in-and-of-itself, the 'visual experience' is actually pretty cool.

Look at '2001'..

Nothing at all wrong with that. My points were more on the line of our discussion a few days ago on whether great visuals can improve a weak or bad story..?

I just saw 'Avatar' as a tired plot, one we've seen several times now, just placed in a new and very ambitious visual medium.

Doug said...

Just my two cents --

I've not seen a 3D movie. My sons have seen a few, and they've told me that when there's an option, choose the 2D one. It will be just as good, and you don't have to wear the glasses.

In regard to the 3D films at Walt Disney World, I thought those effects were outstanding. As Karen and I both mentioned in our reviews of our vacation experiences, the Star Wars attraction is amazing! But keep in mind, at WDW, these examples last only for 10-15 minutes and not 2 1/2 hours. That may have something to do with the success of the medium in that setting.


William said...

I prefer "regular" 2-D to 3-D, mainly because the 3-D is more distracting and sometimes makes what is going on in a scene harder to see. Also, after about 15 minutes, you don't really even notice the 3-D anymore.

That being said, I do plan to see Amazing Spider-Man in 3-D just for the web-swinging through the city scenes.

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