Archive for April, 2009

I’m so two-dimentional.

April 12, 2009

Since the new digital 3-D technology emerged a few years ago, I’ve seen the following films in 3-D: Monster House, Nightmare Before Christmas, Meet the Robinsons, U23D, Coraline, Madea Goes to Jail (just kidding), and, most recently, Monsters vs. Aliens.  I think it’s fair to say that I’ve become somewhat familiar with this new way to see movies.  And now I’ve made up my mind: I don’t really like it.

Granted, the technology is better than the old school 3-D technology (2003’s Spy Kids 3-D gave me a migrane).  If you haven’t been to a digital 3-D movie yet, you’ll notice the glasses are different.  Gone are the red and blue lenses.  Other glasses–like the ones used in some IMAX theaters, require you to look directly at the screen without tilting your head.  If you move your noggin ever so slightly, the image goes all skiwampis and gives you a headache.  The glasses used for digital 3-D films allow you to lean, tilt and jostle your head to your heart’s content.

But if you ask me, that’s the only plus about these new 3-D movies.  Here are my beefs with them:

1) They cost more to see. If you have a hard time coping with the ever-increasing cost of seeing a movie in a first-run theater, you’ll have a full-blown conniption when you find out you’ll have to pay an extra two to three dollars for seeing a 3-D feature.  Outside the auditorium you’ll see bins with signs on them politely asking you to recycle your 3-D glasses when the show is over.  You know what I say to that?  HELL NO!  If I’m going to pay extra money to see a 3-D feature, you can bet your sweet bippie that I’m keeping the specs.  (I use them as props when I perform improv comedy.)

2) Your eyes adjust after five minutes.  After the initial ooh-ahh-ing of seeing images in 3-D, your eyes get used to the images.  So basically you pay more money to forget you’re seeing a movie in 3-D.

3) Everybody’s doing it.  Jim Cameron, director of Titanic, is working away on his new film, Avatar, which apparently will be meant to be seen in 3-D.  Steven Spielberg is shooting Tintin using the technology.  And Disney recently announced that Toy Story 1 and 2 will be re-released as a double feature this fall in–you guessed it–3-D.  Also expect Beauty and the Beast to return to theaters in 3-D as well.  Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, even said (and I quote): “Someday, people will buy their own movie glasses, which they’ll take to the movies–like people have their own tennis rackets.” (You can read about Cameron, Spielberg and Katzenberg’s enthusiasm for 3-D right here.)

Whaaaat?  Is he serious?  Do you really want to see Julia Robert’s latest romantic comedy or a low-budget indie in 3-D?  I most certainly don’t.

I feel about this 3-D renaissance the way I do about Disney’s attitude towards traditional hand-drawn animation in the early 2000’s.  They felt that computer animation was the wave of the future, and abandoned any plans for good ol’ fashioned, this-is-what-we’ve-done-for-generations animated features.  But they completely missed the point.  Good storytelling and character development should be every filmmaker’s goal, not technology that lets you do good stuff.  While all of Pixar’s films are computer animated, they would all be just as good if they were hand-drawn.  (Thank goodness that John Lasseter–Pixar’s head honcho who now oversees all of Disney’s animation–has enough sense to bring back the medium, with The Princess and the Frog.)

I feel the same way about the new 3-D movies.  Filmmakers are getting caught up in the technology that they are forgetting to make a good movie (cough–Monsters vs. Aliens–cough).  Let’s hope that Avatar and Tintin are good movies in their own right, instead of gimmicky spectacles without much substance.

So to all the upcoming 3-D movies like Ice Age 3, A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and every subsequent Pixar and DreamWorks Animation feature: simply be a good movie.  I’ll see you first in a regular, 2-D presentation, and then if I like you so much that I want to experience you in 3-D, I’ll gladly fork over the extra money and add another pair of glasses to my growing collection.