You may have noticed that there is a brand new technology in town (as of the 1890’s): 3D movies. The cameras, post work flows and projection methods have improved greatly over time, but the underlying experience is pretty much the same- a normal movie is turned into a big spectacle that really must be enjoyed in a theater with big expensive equipment. This is an age old story in cinema history- every time that the death of the movie theater has be declared, they up the ante and create an experience that is unlike anything you can get at home. This one-upmanship led to the widespread adoption of color film, widescreen, 3D, IMAX, surround sound, and countless others, some of which stayed, some died away. Eventually, the home theater market and television get the good technology dumbed down enough to make it available to the average consumer. Remember when THX meant something as a standard? Not anymore, now its just a logo and the greatest sound ever made.
So now movie audiences are dwindling again, and the big decision has been made that 3D is the only way to make people get out of their comfortable home theaters and spend some of their money on what has increasingly become one of the most unpleasant of all American pastimes- going to the movies. I personally hate going to the movies now- rude audiences, terrible over-hyped movies, riddonkulous ticket prices (you can buy the DVD for the cost of 2 tickets at the Arclight in LA), and having to wait in line and then sit through commercials and Disney Radio muzak backed sideshows for over 1/2hr before the show even starts. Thanks to Netflix, a projector I picked up on Woot! and a decent surround sound system, I pretty much don’t need to go spend money to be disappointed. But 3D is here to stay for a little while, the end result of which is that we are about to get hit with a gigantic wave of movies shot and presented in glorious 3D. I am sure some of these will be well worth getting off our asses and suffering the above mentioned indignities to see them as intended, but honestly, 3D is pretty annoying.
I am not just talking as a post guy (if you want a glimpse of the hell that a 3D movie can create for us, read this article about how to do 3D tracking on stereo plates); 3D movies, as far as I have always seen them, are a gimmick that leaves me with eye strain. The filmmakers feel beholden to ‘depth gags’ that show off the technology rather than further the story. Think of all the bullsh!t that happens in such films, like pointing or throwing things into the lens, or stupid explosions of fire or fluid at the audience that exist only to make people duck and go “whoah!”. This type of filmmaking is about as narrative as a group drug trip- a hallucinatory experience with little to no depth (of the emotional kind), only wow factor. These are not movies, as I know and love them, these are amusements, and I really don’t care to see them. I’d rather the draw be an amazingly well told story with breathtaking imagery than “dude this stuff totally looks like its floating over your head, man!”. All of this said, I will probably go to see a few or most of them, just to see if my kneejerk reaction is out of step with reality. But, just as happened with regular movies- I anticipate there will be a time that I get sick and tired of being burned by sub-par experience after shitty experience. But I am least willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.