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And the best use of 3D in recent years is...
by Nathan Reece

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One of the big ones when I was little.

One of the big ones when I was little.
Before I answer that, I want to say that the history of 3D in movies has been kind of strange in my opinion.

I've always been a huge fan of it. When I was little, 3D was having its first big resurgence since the 1950s. The problem was that most of the movies being released in 3D in 1983 were either rated R (such as FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 3D, which I eventually saw at a retro showing in Durham, by the way, complete with the glasses - quite enjoyed) or simply inappropriate for youngsters, or so my parents and I thought (such as JAWS 3D, where "the third dimension is terror" and where the shark - terrifyingly - invades Sea World).

One movie I did manage to see in 3D with my parents and brother that year was the classic SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Remember that one? Of course. Everybody does.

But other than Michael Jackson's great CAPTAIN EO movie at Disney World, there were no 3D movies for about twenty years. Then in 2003, Robert Rodriguez released SPY KIDS 3-D: GAME OVER (his THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL 3-D movie came two years later) and the floodgates reopened. I went to see that one at the theater, having seen neither of the previous Spy Kids flicks, specifically because it was in 3D and I thought that was a wow. It was pretty cool experiencing that again. Yet I had no idea how prevalent the technology would become. I remember Rodriguez saying, when doing promotion for the movie, that he wished there were more 3D movies. Did he ever get his wish.

Since then, I've seen MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, FINAL DESTINATION 3D and SAW 3D (I guess you'd have to say horror movies are the most excellent 3D material in my book: the "Boo!" factor just lends itself to
The one that started the modern 3D explosion

The one that started the modern 3D explosion
the technology). I also saw THOR and THE AVENGERS in 3D, and I thought they both worked very well.

The "big deal" movie that's been released in 3D the past few years has been, I suppose, AVATAR. But I have to say, I prefer the "things jumping out at you" mode of 3D to the "entirety of reality is a dimension between you and the screen" mode of the technology that AVATAR represented. I did like the raindrops, and some of the colors. But I didn't think it was that amazing, and I would've probably thought it was even less so if I wasn't, um...of very high spirits at the time. I'm also one of the people who thought the movie wasn't that great. Not that there aren't a shitload of people who disagree with my assessment of its 3D and its quality.

There's also been a plethora of additional 3D movies in the past few years which I haven't seen. Infact the technology has probably been as abundant in this time period as it's ever been. In previous decades, 3D was a novelty. Now it's the norm. For all kinds of movies, be it horror, action, animated...pretty much anything that presents visuals in a sensational way is bound to have a 3D release. And there are also 2D versions you can go see of each movie too, and that option (as opposed to there just being the 3D version) is also new to this time period.

I think part of this massive boom is because some of the top directors, particularly James Cameron, have insisted that 3D is "the way of the future." I don't understand this, because the technology's been around for 60 years. It is the most prevalent now that it's ever been, but the fact remains, a lot of people don't like it. But not only is James Cameron insistent on the superiority of the
The greatest movie ever made. To some people.

The greatest movie ever made. To some people.
technology, he also seems to believe he's an authority on it. When PIRANHA 3D was released (which I didn't see but wanted to, because I'll bet it was a lot of fun), he described it as being "exactly the kind of thing we shouldn't be doing with 3D." Why, because it doesn't pretend to be anything but fun?

He's not the only director championing 3D as "the future." Some of them seem to be getting a little carried away with the idea. Martin Scorsese recently said that he was such a fan of it after shooting some of his movies, like HUGO, in 3D, that he wished he could have filmed some of his old movies, like TAXI DRIVER, in 3D.

TAXI DRIVER!!!!!!!!!! What was he, fucking kidding?

It isn't like the technology wasn't around at that time. I guess it wasn't as much of a fad then. But I've soooo always wanted to have the gun in the "You talkin' to me?" scene look like it was right in front of me. And all the realistic, painful bloodletting in the final scene happening this close? Excitement. Sheer excitement.

I personally believe that certain kinds of movies, like gritty dramas, shouldn't be in 3D. Yet it's such a part of the moviegoing culture now, that...I don't know, maybe it isn't a fad this time. I don't think it'll ever be the case that 3D is the only dimension you can go see a movie in, but maybe it'll always be one of the two options with these big releases from now on. Some of the people I know can't take the effect it has on their head and eyes, and I know they're not the only ones, so the day that big theatrical movies are in 3D - and 3D only - is never going to arrive, in my opinion.

Yet as far as the types of movies that are
Hmmmm...

Hmmmm...
appropriate for 3D, when I'm talking about my friends' sensitivity to it, I'm talking about the movies that are typically released in 3D: namely big, explosive action, horror and animated movies. So the bigger the movie, the more likely it is to hit theaters in 3D, right? Not necessarily.

Werner Herzog released a documentary last year - called CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS - that I think is one of the most important movies ever made. It's a chronicle of the expedition he and his crew made to uncover an ancient cave in southern France that contains actual wall drawings made by prehistoric people. It's a fascinating movie, and I only got to see it in 2D at the theater. However, I have it on video in a 3D version, and I intend to watch it soon to see how the technology enhances it.

Also, JACKASS 3D (which I saw in 3D at the theater and also have on video in 3D) is one of the more creative uses of the technology I've seen. I can't really explain how: it just has to be seen.

Maybe it's possible, taking these two movies into consideration, that there are opportunities with 3D technology that have yet to be taken advantage of, ways to use the format that haven't been explored. Perhaps there are more inventive and original ways to use it than, say, fragments of an exploded object flying at the audience (And I'm not saying that fragments of an exploded object flying at the audience isn't awesome).

Case in point: the title of this column, which comes from famous movie critic Leonard Maltin. I watch his weekly show on the Reelz channel, "Maltin on Movies." And he recently did a spotlight segment on a movie that he deemed "the best use of 3D I've seen in recent years." What was it?

STEP UP 3D.

No bullshit.

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Mike Thomas
Sep 21, 2012 1:19 AM
[X] delete
My affection for 3D will come when the glasses are gone - for both cinema AND television.

I did two columns on 3D: one railing against the medium, and one railing against James Cameron for dissing the medium. They're both quite amusing reads.

As for my favorite 3D - CHEERLEADERS in 3D. My girlfriend at the time begged me to take her to this, not fullty knowing what she was getting into.

We stayed all of 15 minutes.

So I guess it wasn't really the movie, but the reaction from the movie.

Thanks for the memories!
Nathan
Sep 21, 2012 9:31 PM
[X] delete
Haha! No problem man. I actually like the glasses myself, especially since they upgraded from the paper ones, but I know they're not everybody's cup of tea. I know I read at least one of your 3D columns, and it was good: I'll check out the other one.

CHEERLEADERS huh? That's one I've never heard of, but it sounds like it would be quite something. I can only imagine what the 3D was for in that! I'm also guessing they won't bother with a 3D transfer to video with that one.

Samantha
Sep 28, 2012 7:23 PM
[X] delete
I am one of those sad folks that gets horrible 3D headaches. Avatar gave me the absolute worst headache of my life. It was so bad I couldn't even eat, and eventually I gave up trying to do anything and went to bed at seven in the evening.

Also, 3D glasses are really awkward when you already have real glasses...

But I do agree that 3D can be great if it serves the purpose of the film. For instance, My Bloody Valentine makes sense, since it's already a gimmicky horror film, but I have a big problem with 3D being the status quo rather than an exception.

I suppose you could make the argument that 3D is becoming the new color, just another development in the movie-making world that will eventually become standard. It's a rare exception that a movie isn't filmed in color now, and maybe the same thing is happening now with 3D. But I think color is important and has become standard because it can serve a film in so many ways. A color scheme can make or break the mood of a scene, whereas with 3D, all you ever get is the same 3D. There's no art to it.

So, my final word: 3D is stupid and I hope it dies soon.

Meg
Sep 29, 2012 9:42 AM
[X] delete
I sort of love the idea of 3D, but I have trouble with the glasses. I too went to see AVATAR, having to wear THE glasses over MY glasses! I swear I got seasick. Luckily there was a craft brew bar in the theatre so the night wasn't a total loss.

I do like animation in 3D. UP was cool and so was the BEOWULF of a few years ago, where Angelina Jolie played a golden snake. Of course, I remembered contact then.

I'm for the technology, but with the price, I think it should be saved for big action, horror, or the right documentary. An intimate, psychological film in 3D? Horrors! TAXI DRIVER? Perish the thought! They'd need an analyst stationed in every theatre!

What I want to know is, whatever happened to Smell-O-Vision?

Nathan
Sep 29, 2012 6:53 PM
[X] delete
Samantha:

Sorry Avatar gave you such a bad headache! I had a bad reaction to it as well, but not physically. ;) I'm lucky that 3D doesn't effect me that way. My brother hadn't seen a 3D movie at the theater (except for Captain EO) until we saw The Avengers, and it had the same effect on him. Infact he had to go outside momentarily and gather his senses! Now he says he won't see another one. His girlfriend has eye problems and she won't even consider seeing one in 3D.

The glasses with glasses thing is understandable. It's like wearing sunglasses over your real glasses. I never thought about it, but they should make clip-on 3D glasses for people, the way they do clip-on sunglasses. I have glasses too, but I always wear my contacts when I go see 3D movies. Not everyone can wear contacts though, so that makes it more problematic.

That's an interesting comparison about color, but I really hope 3D isn't becoming that prevalent. Infact, it's rumored to be on its way out, and I hope that isn't the case either (at least completely), but audience interest is supposedly dwindling.

I think 3D can be used really well, but it can also be completely unnecessary. For people who have problems with it, I'm really glad there's usually a 2D option these days.

I like your last line. Pretty funny.

Meg:

I don't know what happened to Smell-O-Vision. Or why that existed in the first place.

Sorry you had a bad physical reaction to Avatar as well. I agree: the bar must've been comforting!

I completely agree about the types of movies they should use 3D for. I have to wonder if Scorsese really thinks that; if he does, I'm disappointed. I sort of wonder if he's just hyping it for the sake of the movie industry, since theater attendance is supposedly down and 3D makes even more money because of the glasses.

Everyone:

Here's three pages on which you'll pretty much find every theatrical movie that's ever been released in 3D. I thought this was really interesting to read.

http://3dmovieslist.blogspot.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_3D _films_pre-2005
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_3D_films

Also I can't believe I did a column about 3D without mentioning Prometheus, which is one of the best uses of 3D I've seen, and the hands-down BEST use of the technology I've ever seen (I'm kicking myself for not mentioning it): Tron Legacy. I think that's the only movie I've seen twice in 3D at the theater. It was truly like going to some kin

Nathan
Sep 29, 2012 6:54 PM
[X] delete
Again I seemed to have written too much. End of my response: "It was truly like going to some kind of amusement park. AMAZING." Big whoop.



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Nathanizms
Every other Friday

This is an outlet granted to me by the makers, in which I will espouse grand words, unleashing in written form the very movie-related praise and outrage I'm probably thinking about and/or discussing at the time anyway.


Other Columns
Other columns by Nathan Reece:

Led Zeppelin's Reunion Show Movie

The Night He Came Home

The Scariest Movie I've Ever Seen

20 Albums That Play Like Movies

You're not The Joker, you fucking moron

All Columns


Nathan Reece
I was born in a log cabin that was built in a sewer. After serving during wartime, I woke up from this vicious dream and learned to tapdance.
It's a commendable trade, but not a recommendable one. As I've said many a time, on one hand, I have five fingers. Yet on the other hand, I have
five fingers. Sometimes I sleep. I would probably watch more sumo wrestling if it was on TV more often. The first movie I saw at the theater was Superman
II...the last was The Terror, and this much is true. Far be it from me to call myself stupid, but if I did so (and believe me, I would), I'd say it behind
my back. Then I would figure out how I did it. Sometimes I sleep. Love, Nate.



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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Nathan Reece by clicking here.


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