Monday, August 10, 2009

The Third Dimension -- A Madhouse

By Chase Kahn

If you've gone to a cineplex in the last two years, you know we are in the midst of a bona-fide, gold rush-influx of 3D movies. My Bloody Valentine 3D, Coraline, The Jonas Brothers 3D, Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Up have all been released this year under the format.

Granted, some of these movies have been extremely successful financially, but what percentage of moviegoers saw them in a digital 3D theater? How about knowingly saw it in a 3D theater? Now I'll admit I exist in the other half of the movie world, the minority. I write a movie blog. But the future of 3D movies scares me -- what if, god help us, it becomes the standard? What if 2D films are looked upon the same way that silent or black-and-white films are now?

First off, let me state my case. I don't absolutely hate 3D -- I think it has a place in this world as an artistic tool (Coraline) or once in a while diversion. In reality, what ends up happening is that a) execs/directors/studios, in an attempt to rationalize their use for 3D, will embellish certain areas of a script/story in order to create visually-oriented sequences (anything by Robert Zemeckis), or b) will apply a 3D sheen as a cover-up for a lesser product (Journey to the Center of the Earth).

Not to mention that 3D viewing in general is a pain in the ass. Viewing angles are limited, the glasses put you into a chronic state of weariness, head-fatigue and migraines and the recycling and re-using of glasses is disturbingly germ-welcoming. Oh yeah, it's also more expensive.

This extra-dimensional movement seems to be lead by Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Avatar director James Cameron. Every time I hear these guys make headlines claiming that 3D will soon be the standardized form of the medium, I think, "Okay, great. Does anybody actually want this?" I hear more negativity directed towards 3D these days than I do "Michael Bay Sucks" posts -- certainly more than those who approve it.

Which isn't to say that I'm not excited about Avatar, but I'd be more excited for a new two-dimensional Cameron film.

Just throw alliances out the window for a second -- who cares if you like 3D or not -- does every movie need to be demensionalized? Do we need Funny People, Adventureland and A Serious Man in 3D? Of course not, it's madness. Keep the goons and the popcorn-munchers happy with their interactive, digitized fix (i.e. 5-6 pictures a year) and leave the rest alone. I'd like to hear what Paul Thomas Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen Brothers think of 3D. I think they'd fall in line with the rest of us.


  1. The problem I have with 3D movies isn't that they are 3D but rather that they use these generic, dis-interesting, gimmicks because they are making a 3D film (like a character flying at the camera for no apparent reason). I haven't seen any of the films in 3D, I tend to avoid them as a sign of minor protest, but I think it would be fun to watch a film like Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 3D as it is now, no gimmicks added.

  2. The opening shot of "Monster vs. Aliens" comes to mind -- where a character is seen playing with a paddleball and the ball keeps flying right at the camera. Really annoying.

    My head hurts after 90 minutes of 3D, "Benjamin Button" would make me look like a victim from "Scanners".