London, 8th November 2012
While 3D movies have been around for a sometime, there seems to be a proliferation of them in the last few years. The technology is definitely much improved from early 3D films. I remember seeing Andy Warhol’s “Flesh for Frankenstein” in the 1970s, a colour, soft-core porn/schlock horror film, when large swathes of the audience besieged the box office half-way through because the 3D not only didn’t work, it was giving everyone who wore the 3D cardboard glasses a headache.
However my beef with 3D movies falls into three scenes- a) It’s not really 3D, b) the 3D can make a good film worse, and rarely if ever makes a good film great, and c) do film producers really know that audiences like and/or want more 3D films? This is my personal view, although I have spoken to a number of friends and family who have the same view.
It’s not really 3D
It’s probably not intended to be “lifelike”, but to me, even the best 3D is an effect. Like a coloured filter on a digital camera or an echo added to the vocals on a song, it’s not supposed to be something that makes your filmic experience like reality. Rea; 3D is out there all the time for those with reasonable vision and two eyes. The 3D movie experience is something that is clearly false, artificial, and in no way a simulation of the real world brought to life on a flat screen via plastic glasses. If you want to see an artistic event in 3D, go see a play at a theatre. But please don’t tell me that a 3D film is lifelike. It can be fun (although see the next point below) but it is a gimmick, and should only be used in gimmicky films.
3D can make a good film worse, but rarely if ever makes a good film great
I have seen about 20 3D films, and can honestly say in none of them, has the 3D raised the film to a new level of quality. Silent Hill:Revelation was a reasonable film, especially if you’ve played the video games on which it is based, but the special effects were good enough on their own, and the 3D elements only made you look less at the film-makers/makeup artist and designers’ crafts, and more just jump at the regular things coming out of the screen at you. I came to see and appreciate a film, not to dodge a stabbing knife, or jolt backwards at a grabbing hand. Prometheus was a poor film. The 3D was irrelevant in coming to that conclusion. Final Destination 3D wasn’t bad, but just seemed to be a vehicle for the 3D effects while plot, characterisation and storyline suffered.
Do audiences want more 3D films?
Finally, where are the polls of cinema audiences that say there is a demand or clamour for more 3D films? Most often I see a 3D film because I have no choice. It’s either not available in 2D or the cinema has decided not to screen a 2D version. It seems that movie producers have convinced themselves that unless any kind of action/horror/sci-fi film has 3D bolted on, it won’t be a success at the box office. I beg to differ. I would prefer to see better quality films, not more 3D films, and I think I may not be alone.
Postscript. I’ve just heard that the classic Humphrey Bogart film “Casablanca” may be getting a re-release… In colour and 3D. I rest my case.