3D – A Qualified Defense

Another mistake is to underestimate gaming in all of this. In fact, that’s where the real home video tipping point is going to be. Video games are a bigger industry monetarily at this point than film. There have been a few new games that try to use some 3D features, like Call of Duty: Black Ops. But so far that industry hasn’t gotten their Avatar app. There hasn’t been a game that has made 3D display necessary…yet. But give it time. I guarantee that there is a game company working on something right now that will eventually blow everyone’s mind. And considering all of the refinements made with motion control based games (Wii, Kinect, Playstation Move), just imagine the immersive experience when that killer 3D game meets with a responsive movement control. It will happen.

Meanwhile, we are facing a summer with some blockbuster films showing in 3D. Again, I don’t think 3D makes a bad movie good, or is even a good idea all the time. The post-conversion 3D processing of The Clash of the Titans looked muddy and terrible. It actually made a lame movie worse! I thought the latest Narnia movie had some of the most pointlessly boring 3D I’ve seen. While I haven’t wasted my time yet, I understand that M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s The Last Airbender looked dim and ugly. But there is also the 10-year-old fanboy in me that relishes the idea of seeing Thor’s hammer flying out over the audience, or having Green Lantern’s power ring create things that come straight at me, or Captain America‘s shield flying over the audience! Wow! Now, I doubt all of those movies will match the possibilities I have in my head, but the thought of it is fun. Even some of the movies that embrace the campiness of the technology seem better because of it. I didn’t see Jackass 3-D, but slow motion vomit into the audience sounds fun. And again, having not seen it, just the idea in Piranha 3D of a killer fish biting off Jerry O’Connell’s wiener and then regurgitating it makes me smile.

Peter Jackson is currently filming the two-part Hobbit opus in 3D. He is reportedly filming it in the 48 fps that James Cameron has been saying will make 3D imagery better. A skilled director is taking the best the technology has to offer and going the extra mile to make it look the best he can. That’s what I’m talking about. http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/04/12/the-hobbit-48-frames-peter-jackson/

This all came to a head for me with Werner Herzog’s new documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams that just opened in theaters. I haven’t seen it yet, but from all reports, the 3D actually proves critical in how we see the film. Reviews state that the 3D makes the cave paintings it profiles move and dance on the screen. Critics who are normally jaded about this technology have been praising this film. Given how much I loved Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World, about exploration in Antarctica, I look forward to this new film. Herzog swears this will be the only 3D movie he makes. Great. Again, it’s a talented filmmaker using the best medium to create his film.

The technology itself is not the solution. A 3D remastering of Casablanca would not make it better. In fact, that sounds horrible. My Dinner With Andre in 3D would go from a talkfest with two men sitting at a table to a dimly lit talkfest of two men sitting at a table. It’s A Wonderful Life doesn’t need 3D any more than it needed to be colorized like they tried before. But the technology itself is also not the problem. Even if you argue that 90% of all the 3D movies now are crappy looking and bad, that’s fine. But sometimes they won’t be. Just like any technological advancement, it’s a bad idea until it isn’t. I’m sure live music fans complained about the soullessness of recorded music. Black and white afficianados cried foul about color. I’m sure some whined that Cinemascope was too much to take. Vinyl record fetishists still complain about digital music’s lack of heart. All I argue is, if 3D is not right for a story, then don’t force it to be. But if it adds something, don’t dismiss it outright. One of these days, even the most cynical may be surprised.

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I'm a family man who got his Drama degree back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and now works at a desk. I love movies of all kinds, and I am still working my way through the list of 1001 movies you must see before you die.

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