How Unobtrusive 3D Actually Kills 3D Enjoyment

Boiling Point

3D has long been a viable tool in the filmmaker’s arsenal. Sure, it’s not a particularly awesome tool, but it can be a fun tool. My first theatrical experience was a neat showing of Night of the Living Dead 3D. I later really appreciated the in your face fun of My Bloody Valentine 3D. I mean, if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it, right?

Plenty of people hate 3D and await its demise. I have never been one of them, but I’m slowly leaning their direction. I’ve previously said that one key to 3D remaining viable is to ditch the gigantic, heavy glasses – that’s still imperative. I hate those things. But really, I think 3D has to get more aggressive and in your face to justify the film being in 3D.

I can’t get behind the sentiment that the 3D in Prometheus was good or added more to the experience. The 3D in Prometheus was unobtrusive. I think people liked it merely because it didn’t detract from the experience. Is the lack of failure the new marker of success? Not in my book. What does adding 3D do if you’re not going to exploit the technology?

I don’t need Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D gags of spitting at the camera and throwing yo-yos, but you need to justify being in 3D. You need to add real depth to the picture, not just some depth. I saw Prometheus at Arclight Hollywood, one of the premiere theaters in the world when it comes to projection, so I can pretty safely assume I saw the film as it was intended – and the 3D seemed flat. It didn’t add anything to the experience.

It, in fact, detracted from the experience. I saw The Avengers in 2D and enjoyed the film. My understanding is the same – the 3D wasn’t obtrusive, but it didn’t add anything to the experience. So why do it? If you’re advertising 3D, execute 3D. People don’t stroll into a 3D movie hoping for a flat experience – they choose 3D because they want shit thrown at their faces. Side note: How about a 3D sex comedy where nasty stuff gets thrown at the audience? The Hangover 3D. Or hey, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D had fun with the technology.

I was one of the few who saw Tom Jane’s directorial debut, Dark Country, in 3D, and he used the technology to great effect. There were moments when the 3D really popped and others when it just provided depth. The 3D was not just a gimmick nor was it just a name. It was part of the story. I don’t think Ridley Scott used 3D at all in Prometheus. He just filmed a movie using 3D cameras with no thought to how to utilize the tool.

3D isn’t a sticker, it’s not a passive thing. It’s a very active thing that should either be utilized or ignored completely. I’m by no means anti-3D. I think it can be fun and enjoyable, but I am against 3D just being some “New and Improved” additive to a movie. I’m not sure why you would broadcast that the film is 3D if it doesn’t really utilize 3D. You’re just weakening the brand.

People don’t want quiet fireworks. They don’t want mild hot sauce. They want an experience. The advertised experience. If you want to make a film in 3D, make it in 3D. Don’t make a 3D film where it feels just like 2D with floating credits. That’s not 3D. It’s 2D+.

I’ve come to the personal conclusion that 3D is an all or nothing affair. You either go for it and really have stuff pop and move and exploit the technology, or you just make a 2D film. I will never celebrate a film’s 3D for merely being unobtrusive. That’s a failure and every flat 3D flick just pushes me past my boiling point.

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Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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