05 July, 2010

Movies in 3-D

We interrupt our usual food-related blogging to bring you a few words about 3-D movies...

Over the weekend, the family and I went to see the latest Pixar release, Toy Story 3, in 3D.  We loved the movie - there were so many great moments from beginning to end, and Pixar's superb storytelling and animation skills were put to perfect use, making the film as good a stand-alone feature as it was the final installment in a three-story arc.

But I gotta tell you:   Not only did my eyes water like fountains starting 10 minutes into the movie, but the 3-D gave me a crushing headache which lasted, despite a dose of Excedrin when I got home, right up into the next morning.

This isn't the first time I've seen a movie which used the RealD process.  When Nightmare Before Christmas was rereleased in 2006 in 3D, we went to see it.  The 3D effects were pretty cool, and added to our enjoyment of the film; it seemed to me that Tim Burton might have  even had 3D in mind when he originally made it because the action seemed so naturally compatible with the effects.  Back then, I experienced a little discomfort - watery eyes and a slight headache after the movie - but I attributed it to "getting used to 3D" and dismissed it.  Now, I'm not so sure.

And my dissatisfaction with 3D isn't limited to wet eyes and pounding noggin.   Ticket prices for Toy Story 3 3D were twice the price of the 2D version at my local movie house.  Hey, I understand the principles of capitalism, and theatres can feel free to charge whatever the market will bear for whatever they want to throw up on the screen, but damn, that's a lot of scratch and quite frankly, as cool as 3D looks, there was nothing about the effect that made Toy Story 3 any more immersive than it would have been in 2D.  Seriously.  It was totally 3D for the sake of 3D.  I have a sneaking suspicion that theatres are using jacked ticket prices for 3D to soften up movie-goers for much higher prices across the boards - and, considering things like big-screen advertisements mixed in with the trailers and having to share the cinema with assholes who yak and text and chat on their cell phones throughout the movie, even the regular price of a movie ticket is looking too damn high lately.

Roger Ebert recently wrote a column in Newsweek explaining why he's not a fan of 3D movies.  For the most part, I agree with him - although I know there are a few movies I would see in 3D because I think the effects would enhance the experience.  But from now on, before I pay that 100% 3D surcharge at the local Movieola, I'll be carefully considering a few things:
  • Was the film made in 3d, or was the effect tacked on in post-production in a cynical effort to extract more money from my wallet?
  • Does the 3D add anything to the experience?  Would the 2D version be just as good?
  • Is seeing this movie in 3D really worth the eyestrain and headache I'm going to wind up with?
If the answers don't add up, I'll either see the movie in 2D or wait for the Blu-Ray to be released.  Because here's the real deal:  For the price of a singe movie ticket, I can watch a  month full of movies on my own terms thanks to Netflix, in 1080p on a big bright screen - without advertisements, rude shitheads, sticky floors, and screaming kids - at home, and not get a headache.  You're right, it's not the same as going to a movie theatre.  It's better.  Theatre owners had better start considering that as much as they consider dumbass new gimmicks.

What about you?  What do you think of 3D movies and the cinema experience?


dale said...

We just watched Avatar on DVD from Netflix. Very enjoyable. In fact it was good enough that if it were still in theaters in 3D, we would probably go see it again there. Considering that we have not been to a sit-down theater in a decade, that is saying something.

Christina said...

I purposely went to the 2D Toy Story, and it was good enough for me (and my wallet - hey I brought 7 kids with me). If a movie is done well enough with the CG effects, the 3D is kind of overkill.

Dave said...

dale - We saw Avatar at home also, on BluRay. It was a visually exciting movie and I think we would have enjoyed it in 3D. But unlike so many other 3D movies coming out, James Cameron designed and envisioned that movie from the ground up to be shot and shown in 3D. That's an example of 3D enhancing the experience.

Christina - 2D would have been good enough for me, too. Live and learn. Also, you have earned 2 internets and my respect for successfully bringing 7 kids with you. :)

J. Astro said...

I think 3D can be a fun "special occasion" type thing, such as MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, which was a decent throwback to the old school gimmick. The horror genre is and always has been frequently a purveyor of the gimmick, because they are both exploitative in nature and hence a perfect fit for each other.

That said, when every goddamn thing you can imagine starts being in 3D, it loses its luster and is more apparent as just a desperate attempt for theaters to try and give you something you can't get at home, so that they remain relevant.

And agreed about motherfuckers who talk during the movie. I will literally get into angry verbal confrontations with those people. I don't just there and take it... and it's funny how THEY get all indignant when you call 'em on it, as if YOU'RE the one being rude. I can't wait for the day it comes to fisticuffs.