Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is 3D Dead?

It sometimes feels as if I'm the only person on the planet that still believes 3D is a viable storytelling device rather than a phase Hollywood is going through.  Almost every week people say that it's dead, that there hasn't been a great 3D experience since "Avatar," and that nobody cares about it anymore.  It's very disappointing to think that we have already forgotten about "Life of Pi," and how much the 3D helped that movie be what it was.  Even the late film critic Roger Ebert (who was an outspoken critic of 3D) admitted that the 3D in that movie was good.  And this was last November.  Yet less than a year later people are signaling the death bell for 3D once again.  They point to the fact that 3D tickets have amounted to less than 30% per movie this year (on average).  Surely that's proof that the format is dead right?  I've responded to criticism's with this one point: Do you know what the best 3D experience I've had this year is?

Answer: "The Smurfs 2."

Now this is not the best 3D movie I've seen all year as "The Smurfs 2" is easily the worst film I've seen all year.  But in terms of using 3D properly in a way that makes it essential to the story, this is the best I've seen the format used all year.  Now, think about that.  If THAT'S the movie that has the best use of 3D this year then that might explain why people are turning their backs on the format!  Who wants to see movies like "The Smurfs 2" at all?  When movies like "Monsters University" can't make good use of the format why spend the extra $3?  Even special effects films like "Man of Steel" and "R.I.P.D." are up-converted from 2D to be given 3D effects that only kind of work.  I mean, at this point "Avatar" is almost four years old.  "Life of Pi" is only months old.

Don't the studios realize at this point that up-conversion isn't the same thing as natural 3D, and that people feel slighted when they see it because they know they've been duped?  I said it early on and it's a shame that I have to keep pointing it out, but unless Hollywood makes more movies in natural 3D that makes the movie immersive then 3D movies are going to continue to tank.  People don't want to spend an extra $3 on a movie and have it look like a cheap pop-up book.  "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Life of Pi," and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" showed that if done properly, people will embrace it.  As for the people who said 3D at home is a dead thing I want to make the following comments.  Yes, 3D TV's haven't taken off as makers had hoped, but 3D technology is so cheap almost every TV comes with it now.  And in a few years all the TV's will have it and it will just be another feature.  Then it will be embraced.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another Blah Movie Weekend

September is just the worst time to be a film critic.  It feels like a slow day at Wal-Mart all month long, where every time you hope something interesting is going to happen, and yet nothing does.  So far "Salinger" has not appeared in any of my local theaters and I didn't get an invite to "Riddick," so I've pretty much been at home working on Oscar related books and reviews.  I did manage to rant about Disney's "The Little Mermaid: Second Screen Experience" that they are releasing next week over at Examiner, but so far nothing new to see.  I mentioned this enough times on Twitter that a couple of teenage girls tweeted me that "One Direction: This Is Us" is actually being re-released this weekend with twenty additional minutes of footage which will include four songs that weren't in the first cut of the film.

I assume these girls (who I'm pretty sure I know personally) brought this up because they want another review of the movie.  One that hopefully is more positive this time around.  Well, sorry to disappoint you two young girls, but unless the ticket is paid for I'm not seeing that movie again.  In fact, I want to take this moment to point out that such a release actually makes me like the movie even less.  It just makes it so obvious what "One Direction: This Is Us" REALLY is: A product to sell!  Alright, yeah, in a sense all movies are products that are sold, but this one has a specific audience that the studios knew wanted to see this and they planned the whole release around them.  Since this is essentially a promotional film they released it on opening day to those fans screaming fans, waited a couple of weeks so that kids could save their money once more, and now they are going to sell the movie to those same exact people.

If this were a real movie it could remain in the box office top ten without having to resort to cheap marketing tricks like this, but since it isn't a good movie this is the only way to make more money off it.  Heck, the studio for the Justin Bieber movie did the exact same thing in the exact same time frame.  The only time a new cut of a film is worth while is when several years have gone by and the director has had time to reflect on the film and make some new tweaks which he/she hopes will make the movie better.  In the case of George Lucas we know that sometimes its best to leave well enough alone, but in the case of Peter Jackson we also know there are some clear benefits to going back to the original work and tweaking it a little.  But "One Direction: This Is Us" is not going to benefit from that extra twenty minutes nor does the two week span give Morgan Spurlock any reason to revisit it.  This is a studio marketing ploy, plain and simple.

In fact, because it's a slow weekend I'll upload a review of a REAL music documentary you can watch this weekend as opposed to seeing "One Direction: This Is Us" again!