I’ve been reading a lot about the coming wave of 3D movies—the one, in case you haven’t heard, that will engulf us all this year. Here’s an excellent piece in Time by Richard Corliss explaining (1) what’s going on, (2) what makes this 3D technology different and better, and (3) why you should care . . . basically, because a lot of big-britches directors—your Camerons, your Jacksons, your Spielbergs—swear they’re going to be shooting in 3D from here on out.
(And, ominously: George Lucas plans to reformat and re-release all the Star Wars movies in 3D. Huzzah. Pfffffft. Wonder what CGIdiocy he’ll jam into this extra-special-millennium-platinum-3D edition?)
Of course, lots of directors have said that. 3D and Hollywood have a classic dysfunctional relationship: Hollywood gets together with 3D, 3D stumbles in late every night stinking of gin, Hollywood finally gets strong and dumps 3D . . . but there’s 3D, years later, with a bouquet of flowers and a smart haircut that says “Hey, I’ve straightened out, I’ve made it!” . . . and Hollywood keeps taking 3D back no matter how many times he lets her down.
Because—say it with me now—this time will be different! He PROMISED!
. . . Regardless, 3D is here to stay—at least, for 2009. Like a friend crashing on your couch. So as your guide to right living in this world, I schlepped forth to witness the re-revolution firsthand at a showing of Monsters vs. Aliens and report back.
(Why did you wait this long? you ask. You knew you were going to see it, fool. Monsters? Aliens? Come on—they could’ve named the movie Edward Cowan, Here’s a Million Bucks and you couldn’t have been more excited. Why leave us hanging? Simple: to avoid the crush of screaming children, of course. They’ve moved on by now, presumably to the Hannah Montana flick.)
First, what really matters: moolah! Because that’s what’s really going to make or break 3D this go-round. MvA3D will run you a cool $10.50 vs. the standard $7.50 (Athens area only; prices in your hood may vary). That’s a thirty percent bump in price. So—not to impugn the artistic visions of the great creative talents at Dreamworks Animation—here’s the question you really have to ask yourself: Did 3D make the movie thirty percent better?
I had a dull headache by the end—not anything crippling, just the kind of headache you have after staring at a computer screen for eight hours at work. That this occurred after only a breezy hour and a half is somewhat troubling . . . especially given that James Cameron, champion of the new 3D, is releasing Avatar this winter. And Cameron’s movies ain’t exactly famous for brevity.
However—and this might be a problem Hollywood hasn’t foreseen—the headache didn’t spring from anything that sprang at me onscreen. This headache literally stabbed me in the back.
The new 3D glasses forgo the red/blue action for lenses that shimmer like motor oil dribbled into a puddle in the Wal-Mart parking lot. These lenses in turn have a highly reflective sheen, and the light in the movie theater itself—soft as it is—creates a level of visual “noise” that really works your peepers. Not only are your eyes trying to process the 3D action onscreen . . . they also have to filter out the dim light reflected off the inside of the lenses.
I will reserve final judgment on 3D for a live-action movie, when things that actually look real are flying at you. But for now your guide to right living saith: this 3D is cool, and much better than, say, Jaws 3D-3D. It didn’t elevate my enjoyment of an already-enjoyable movie that much, though. Maybe ten percent. But not thirty.
As it is written, so shall it be.