Friday, April 23, 2010

I hate 3D

The first "3D" tvs go on sale soon. Despite being an "early adopter", I won't be buying one. I don't to buy one ever because I hate 3D.

I saw the Brendan Fraser film Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 3D when it came out, and after about 5 minutes of going "ooh, that yoyo is coming right at me," the novelty value wore off. In fact, I wished it hadn't been in 3D Brendan has quite a big posterior and even though a kindly wardrobe person had made him wear saddle bags to disguise it, it still felt like it was looming out of the screen and was going to ENGULF THE ENTIRE WORLD (sorry Brendan - I'll still marry you).

Look out! It's coming right at us

My problem with 3D films is that most of the time it's not necessary. I saw the new version of Alice in Wonderland, and its awfulness was only enhanced by being in 3D. The glasses made everything look dark, and rather than making the film better, the 3D was a distraction.

3D just doesn't feel that necessary - and in order to justify it, film makers put in scenes where things are dangled at the forefront of screen, or arrows appear to be shooting you. Audiences then end up looking like geegawing idiots, dodging bullets and long poles that aren't really going to hit them. This detracts from the storyline and makes you even more aware that you are "having a 3D experience" rather than getting absorbed by the film itself. You end up in a state of meta-awareness where you're thinking "Isn't the 3D trickery of this film clever" rather than getting lost in the film.

Maybe when colour film first appeared, people didn't take to it for the same reason: "I just couldn't get into Gone with the Wind because the colours distracted me from the storyline." But I don't think so. Colour can always help to make a film more engaging, and plenty of early films didn't seem to try to "showcase" the colour (though some like the Wizard of Oz were clearly making the most of the new medium). The same goes with high definition tv, which I am a fan of. While there is a "wow" factor of seeing HDTV for the first few minutes of a film, it quickly wears off, you adjust to the clearer picture and any benefits you get from seeing things in more detail are generally unconscious.

With 3D, thanks to the stupid glasses and the fact that you're tricked into thinking things are coming at your face, you never stop being aware of it.

And the sort of films where 3D seems best suited to, are big block buster action adventure types with lots of noise and flashes and people in spandex saying things like "You'll never get away with this!" and "The fate of the whole world is at stake!" Perhaps there is more of a purpose to 3D there - although films that resemble roller-coasters aren't really my favourites anyway. The stuff I care about in film - character development, interesting camera work, use of music, narrative structure - 3D can only detract from those.

My worry is that if 3D becomes popular, then those other aspects of films will not be viewed as important in the future. Instead, film-makers will think more about how audiences can be "wowed" by a 3D effect.

And interestingly, it is more expensive to view a 3D film, than to see the same version in 2D, so it feels like a cynical way to simply get people to pay more to get (what I think is) a worse experience. At least, while there is choice, I can take the less expensive option, and possibly even get a quieter auditorium. But I am holding out that this is a flash-in-the-pan, like Ugg boots, and that it won't catch on.