Just say no to 3D

February 22, 2011

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 3D is a scam. A gimmick. A rip-off. And it’s time to stand up and say, “No more.”

 

Because 3D, apparently, is becoming the studios’ go-to feature when it comes to ginning up box-office receipts. But it’s not clear whether audiences are falling for it.

 

Sometimes they don’t have a choice. When your child wants to see the latest kid-oriented feature and the only theater in your neighborhood has it in 3D, what’s your alternative?

 

The whole comic-book-movie craze has yet to peak – and 3D seems to have given it a boost, despite such stinkers as “The Green Hornet” and “Tron: Legacy.” Movie executives are hopping on the bandwagon, because that extra dimension means they can jack up ticket prices by as much as $5 – even though that extra dimension makes the movie darker and slower, without adding anything to its ability to engage you.

 

So many of these 3D efforts have flopped – most recently, count “Green Hornet” and “Sanctum” as bombs – and yet the tide seems to be rolling in that direction. Latest example: this weekend’s “Drive Angry,” yet another Nicolas Cage extrusion.

 

Indeed, despite all the films that Martin Scorsese supposedly has stacked up like planes over Newark – a Dean Martin film, a film set in Japan, one about the guy who killed Jimmy Hoffa – Scorsese’s next film, “Hugo Cabret,” is in 3D.

 

 

And the big news out of Australia is that style-over-substance master Baz Luhrmann is remaking “The Great Gatsby” – in 3D. Oh joy. Never mind that Luhrmann’s last movie, “Australia,” was a cow flop that nearly closed before its first screening was complete.

 

I can sort of understand Scorsese – the ultimate cineaste as filmmaker – wanting to venture into a new cinematic realm and doing it with what is, essentially, a children’s movie. So you’ve got the greatest director of his era – yes, I said it and I meant it – dabbling in two arenas he’s never stepped into before: a movie for kids and a film in three dimensions. But is that dimension necessary? Of course not.

 

As for Luhrmann and “Gatsby,” well, where to start? I’ll reserve judgment on the film itself until I see it (though I lump Luhrmann in with Ridley and Tony Scott – directors whose embrace of style over substance has somehow won them an undeserved respectability).

 

But just the idea of “The Great Gatsby” in 3D? It’s a little like deciding Michelangelo’s “David” would look better if it were painted over so you could see the flesh tones and not just that plain old carrera marble.

 

Obviously, “The Great Gatsby” will be a movie for adults. And how many adults give a rat’s ass about 3D – or, at least, adults who would be interested in “The Great Gatsby”? What could 3D possibly add to a film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece?

 

Offhand, I’d say Luhrmann should worry about the jinx that goes with trying to adapt this most ephemeral and affecting of novels to the screen; no one’s managed to do it so far and several have tried. But 3D? Leave the kiddie effects to others.

 

Because that’s what 3D is: kid’s stuff. Some have tried to equate the shift in film from 2D to 3D with the shift from silent to sound, from black-and-white to color. I would say it’s closer to the introduction of Cinemascope or Cinerama – gimmicks that affect the image without affecting the content, rather than deepening or expanding it.

 

Meanwhile, if you’re an adult who cares about movies, I’d recommend a boycott of 3D films. So far, there are still theaters that show 3D films in 2D; if there’s a 3D movie that you feel compelled to see even though it’s in 3D, seek out one of theaters that’s offering the alternative.

 

Like the steady diet of brainless comic-book and action films that is being consumed by a younger generation of moviegoers, 3D is lowering the standards of a new generation of filmgoers. They’re being taught that, as long as a movie achieves a specific quota of explosions, special effects and other sensational  moments – as opposed to moments that are emotionally or intellectually affecting – they’re seeing something important. In fact, the opposite is true.

 

Because 3D, if anything, is making movies shallower and less multi-dimensional, not more.

 

 

 

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