When 3D first started rolling along and becoming the latest cinematic bandwagon, I was a bit uncertain. Avatar being the first 3D movie I saw probably didn’t help matters too much. But my opinion of it has, for a long while, been that it is nothing short of a gimmick, an excuse for cinemas to charge more for tickets, and for uninteresting and derivative films to be able to shout “Look at me! Look at me!”.
In my defence, look at the titles we’ve seen with 3D so far: My Bloody Valentine, Final Destination 4, Clash of the Titans, and so forth. Scarcely innovative filmmaking. I’ll add that I haven’t seen Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, so I might be talking out of my arse completely and that may use 3D in a completely different way. But I doubt it.
The thing about 3D is that I have yet to encounter a film where it’s actually incorporated into the plot, rather than being stuck on. If a film was to actually use the 3D element integrated into the plot (God knows how; I certainly don’t) then it might become the innovation that the film industry wants it to be.
That hasn’t happened yet, and I’m still not completely sold on 3D, but I’m a little more positive about it. What happened? I saw Toy Story 3 the other day.
Avatar's use of 3D graphics was distracting and gimmicky...
Let me explain. When I saw Avatar in 3D, I was underwhelmed by it. And I mean in general- the story was so-so, the acting was fairly bland, and it was longer than my bladder was comfortable with. But aside from that, the 3D was a distraction from the film. I couldn’t follow the storyline as well, because every so often I caught myself stopping to admire the scenery. In the end, the film became more about the graphics than the story, which really should be a death knell for a film. And the most damning thing of all is that I’ve since seen it in 2D, and if anything it came across better.
Watching Toy Story 3, however, it wasn’t quite like that. Maybe it’s because the story was stronger (it was outstanding), the characters more engaging, and the film as a whole more complex, but I didn’t feel that the fact it was in 3D lessened the experience, or detracted anything. It was simply there; and I was focused on the film for the whole duration. Now, this might just be that Toy Story 3 was a much better film than Avatar, but if I’d seen this first, I’d probably be a whole lot more optimistic about 3D.
...whereas in Toy Story 3, it faded to insignificance next to the film.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Toy Story 3 was a great film, but I’m certain it would have been every bit as good as in 2D. The 3D graphics were still just as unnecessary, but here they were a neutral force. I was able to focus on the film, and enjoy the story (and, yes, tear up at the end) without having to stop every few minutes to think “OH MY GOD! IT’S IN 3D!”.
3D is still problematic, in my opinion. The glasses are a pain, and it has a tendency to cause headaches (Toy Story 3 didn’t, for some unknown reason, have the same disorientating effect on me that Avatar did), not to mention being exclusive of one-eyed audience members. But I suppose it not being a problem is the first step on the road to it being a good thing. It could, I think, be a great force for interactive entertainment, used with the right idea. Nintendo are going to be the first to use it with gaming, releasing the 3DS at some still-vague point in the future, but honestly I expect it will be another gimmick-fest, like its big brother the Wii.
We may have to wait some time to see whether 3D can be the film revolution that the film industry are so desperate for us to see it as.