Jamshed Avari | 23 August 2010
GIVE US GOOD STORIES, BELIEVABLE ACTORS, AND COMPETENT PRODUCTION ANY DAY. WE DON'T NEED GIMMICKS TO ENJOY A MOVIE.
JAMSHED AVARI, deputy editor
I’ve been holding off on a criticism of 3D movies for a while. This whole year, 3D has been the most widely-used buzzword, with companies big and small hopping around and sprinkling it everywhere like over-eager Easter bunnies with impossibly large distribution quotas to fill. With the whole world oohing and aahing over Avatar and the spectacles that followed, dissenting voices weren’t very welcome. Besides, the dawn of the 3D age was supposed to be a celebration—post-recession consumers could feel happy about an indulgence, movie-makers could generate fresh interest, the media could get excited about something again, and of course cinema owners could charge more money!
Now it seems that the buzz was mostly for the sake of generating buzz, and not only has viewership drastically fallen, but studios are cancelling plans to re-release old movies in 3D.
I’ve only seen two or three of this year’s big 3D movies, and not one of them genuinely blew me away. I wondered if I was missing anything, but since all there seemed to be parallel 2D and 3D releases of most movies, it didn’t bother me that people had a choice. I figured there would be a couple of big releases that would deserve the 3D treatment (and ticket price premium), but that the rest of the world would simply continue to go on as before. Now I know I’m not alone.
More and more of the things people say as they leave cinemas are opinions about how awkward the glasses were, how the effects weren’t that great because they were sitting off-center, and how dark the movie seemed. Whether or not they realize it, the technology has begun to overshadow the movie itself. If people are talking about the equipment rather than the finer nuances of the plot, or how powerful they found a particular character or scene, something’s got to be wrong. Two recent releases serve to illustrate this point. Inception is a crazy, narrative-heavy, plot-driven thriller. Viewers need to be totally absorbed in the worlds created for them, not struggling to balance cardboard glasses on their noses. Even though there’s a crazy amount of movement in all dimensions happening on screen, 3D its current form would probably have killed it for me. On the other hand, Despicable Me is a cute animated crowd-pleaser that relies heavily on your investment in the principal characters. The 3D effects didn’t add very much, apart from making some of the funny moments more memorable, and I don’t think anything would have been lost without them.
Loads of factors prevent 3D cinema from being truly enjoyable today. For starters, the glasses are ridiculously uncomfortable and don’t fit well over my own. I also resent being forced to pay Rs 25 extra for disposable cardboard ones, in addition to the already expensive multiplex ticket I just bought. I’ve noticed that things seem to whack out of alignment at times, and the effect just refuses to work till it’s adjusted. Movies need to be conceptualized, produced and treated right from the beginning with 3D in mind, but that doesn’t seem to be happening and we’re straddled with a whole lot of remakes and re-releases that just don’t cut it. In the meanwhile, IMAX continues to work just fine for an equally immersive experience.
Given a choice, I don’t think I’d specifically choose a 3D version of any film, unless I’ve heard good things about it already. I’m more concerned about the plot and production value. Ordinary cinema isn't dead just yet.