Saturday, May 01, 2010

Reger Ebert's dead right: 3-D just sucks (insert your own funny noun here)

In case anyone's wondering, I'm well aware that there really is nothing that Roger Ebert - and much, much less me - can do to stop the extremely profitable plague that is 3-D, but the world is still just a little better place because he keeps trying.

In what I have to assume is the most recent issue of Newsweek, the estimable film critic for the Chicago Sun Times outlines extremely rational and convincing reasons why 3-D just sucks so hard (though he doesn't put it quite that way, of course.) It's very well worth reading his entire piece, which you can do here, but I've taken the liberty of reprinting his lead, which just about nails things very economically:

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

He pretty much states his entire case there, but it's still worth reading his full explanation. I'd just like to mention the two aspects of 3-D that just drive me batty, even more than the fact that it arbitrarily costs more (and more, just wait.)

The main point, which Ebert elaborates on, is that 3-D is indeed just an imagination slaughterer. Movies are meant to take you away, if only for a little while, from whatever is upsetting in your actual life. You, or at least I, can dive completely into the world unveiled in front of you, and further create it in your mind as a fully fleshed-out universe. Given that, why in the world would you want a computer to artificially do this for you? It just robs you of much of the moviegoing experience, so in my mind, it should cost less, not more, to watch. 'Nuff said.

A second point that Ebert addresses and I agree with wholeheartedly is that 3-D movies are indeed more than a bit "dim," especially the animated ones. The perfect case in point is "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," just about the very last animated movie I'll ever see in 3-D for this reason. I watched it in 3-D first, and while it was very funny and still entertaining, it appeared to be filled with giant scoops of gray ice cream and beige pizza. Who wants that? Fully aware that it makes the first viewing a waste of money, I went back a week later and watched the movie in glorious 2-D, and the colors really just exploded off the screen. It was just a much more enjoyable experience. For that reason, I'm through with 3-D animation from anyone working now except for Henry Selick, who proved with "Coraline" that he knows how to use it to genuinely enhance the experience.

Ebert offered a technical reason for this a**-awful phenomenon:

Lenny Lipton is known as the father of the electronic stereoscopic-display industry. He knows how films made with his systems should look. Current digital projectors, he writes, are "intrinsically inefficient. Half the light goes to one eye and half to the other, which immediately results in a 50 percent reduction in illumination."

Why in the world would you pay MORE for that? OK, enough about that. Definitely take the time to read Ebert's essay, and I'll leave you with a very funny mashup of "Seinfeld" that reimagines George's life as a seriously dramatic Hollywood movie. Just about perfect. Peace out.


Chalupa said...

Wow - I loved the trailer for "George"

Reel Fanatic said...

Agreed .. Whoever put that together is a genius

J. Marquis said...

It will be interesting to see if the public will continue to pay 15 bucks a ticket to see the 3-D films. I think it works well with some (Avatar, Beowulf) but the great majority just really don't need it.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think the people will eventually wise up and just start saying now, but maybe I'm just being too naive

jeremy said...

All I read was "Roger Ebert's Dead" and my heart sank.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ha ... Perhaps I should be more careful with my headlines! ... But if you read the article, mentally at least, he is very much alive and well

Thisishollywood said...

The first assumption I'm going to make, however is that you have a projector with which to play your movie reel on. Because, without that you won't be able to even view them. You're also going to need a video camera to record the projected image on. This can be any modern video camera, tape if that's all you've got but digital would save yourself a step later on.


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Canadian Viagra said...

WTF? It's a shame to know Roger is already dead. He was the unique person able to find the wrong way of everything. People in Chicago is gonna miss him a lot.