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Glasses On: Perspectives on the Third Dimension

July 19, 2010

By John C.

There is a scene in John Hughes’ 1991 film Curly Sue, where the characters watch a 3D movie.  They put on their cardboard glasses and reach out and grab at the screen, all the while laughing and having a good time.  Once again, this is something that we’ve been experiencing quite a bit lately at the multiplexes.  Only the cardboard has been replaced by plastic, and the technology has caught up with the vision.

So far this year we’ve seen 7 films, (Alice in Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon, Clash of the Titans, Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3, The Last Airbender, and Despicable Me), released in 3D, with numerous more coming out in the near future.  Five of them were good movies either way, and the other 2, Titans and Airbender, were completely flat, even with the extra dimension.

Many of these films have done well at the box office, and the question everyone’s asking is, would they have made quite as much were it not for the extra cost of 3D?  I think so, at least in the case of film’s like Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever AfterToy Story 3, and Despicable Me.  Maybe Avatar and Alice wouldn’t have gotten to $1 billion quite as fast, but they still all would have been colossal hits.

Inception easily walked away with this weekend’s box office without the added cost of an extra dimension.  Would certain portions of the film have looked stunning if they had been shot in native 3D?  Absolutely.  But I didn’t even miss it, and I’m sure audiences didn’t miss the extra dent to their wallets.

Two of my favourite movies of the year, How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3, were presented in the extra dimension.  How To Train Your Dragon utilized the format perfectly, creating a sense of depth and flight.  The 3D in TS3 was unobtrusive and, at certain points, did add a nice sense of depth, but that movie held up every bit as well without the added dimension.

I think the biggest fallback to 3D is the extra cost added to an already overpriced ticket.  The glasses are not worth the extra three dollars.  If the premium was cut in half and added almost like another tax, then it would be a more reasonable extra amount.  If the logic is that the extra price is added to pay back the slightly inflated production costs, than that same logic would make a ticket to Inception cost more than to an independent film.  And if the extra money is meant to pay for the glasses, then do the brand new child-sized glasses cost half as much?  Charging an extra 3 dollars for 3D is just a marketing ploy to rake in some extra cash.

I do not believe 3D to be the future of cinema, but rather the natural step forward in the presentation of certain films.  I don’t think we will ever get to a point where a film like The Kids Are All Right will be presented in 3D, but it certainly was a nice  extra feature on Despicable Me.  I enjoyed everything about Despicable Me and the end credits sequence alone was some of the coolest 3D I’ve seen.  The images of the Minions trying to measure their way to the audience, coupled with the childish hopes that maybe you could catch one, was alone worth the price of a 3D ticket.

I do enjoy 3D, I just think they should save it for the ones that actually need it.  So long as we continue to see good movies that make good use of the format, but still hold up well without the extra dimension, than I’m perfectly okay with having to wear the glasses.  But I sincerely hope that the cheap, headache-inducing conversions, (Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender), and inflated premiums, won’t be the price that we continue to have to pay.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. rich permalink
    September 8, 2012 11:44 am

    Does anyone know the 3d movie that curly sue was watching? It looks funny and wanna watch it.


    • September 8, 2012 12:51 pm

      Not too sure – can’t find the title. It might just be a “movie within a movie” that they created for the film. But I agree that it does look quite entertaining!

      -John C.


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