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Will the 3-D frenzy ruin the movies many of us enjoy?

April 25, 2010 |  2:31 pm

3-D seems like mostly a trifling diversion now -- basically, as a filmgoer it means that you pay a few extra bucks, pick up a pair of glasses and watch some stunts unfold a little closer to your face.

But the 3-D thinking that's currently gripping Hollywood could engender changes far more sweeping than many of us imagine.

For one thing, it's becoming pervasive to the point of ubiquity, or at least to the point where most of the big releases next holiday season and beyond will be in 3-D. The format won't be the exception -- it will be the norm.

But maybe more to the point, 3-D is changing how movies are written. As one screenwriter said -- in a piece we wrote for today's paper about how 3-D is changing the creative process (part of a larger Sunday LAT package on the new world of 3-D and all that it touches) -- many film scribes now actually insert 3-D moments the way a sitcom writer scripts one-liners.

Finally, 3-D pushes Hollywood further, and perhaps inexorably, in the direction of spectacle. As the writer Justin Marks puts it, "3-D continues to speak to the elimination of the middle creatively. If you don't have an action tentpole that can conceivably be thought of in 3-D, you may as well make small indie movies, because the studios aren't going to be that interested." Marks would know -- he's written a number of big-budget action movies, from Disney's stalled "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to Sony's "Shadow of the Colossus."

So is all this good for our filmgoing experience? Some would say that it means studios are remaking themselves -- and theaters -- as retailers of experience as much of as cinema. And they'd have a point. After all, some of this feels just one step below a theme park ride; skeptics would be right to wonder if the moving seats from a Universal Studios simulator may not be far off. In fact, even as 3-D takes hold, some creative types wonder if they can create a visual spectacle that envelops the viewer from all directions, like a surround-sound for the eyes.

But then, it's worth keeping in mind the long view -- namely, that Hollywood has been trying to one-up itself on technology since sound came on the scene, and probably before. So the sky may be falling. But it's been falling for decades.

Besides, these things to tend to run in cycles. As one indie-film veteran we spoke to last week said, "I've seen it before. Just when Hollywood seems to be going for so many big-budget effects movies it looks like it will burst, people get tired of it, and storytelling, even restrained storytelling, makes a comeback." From his lips to studio executives' ears.

-- Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: My Bloody Valentine 3-D. Credit: Lionsgate

Comments () | Archives (11)

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Given the state of the film industry - as well as audiences these days, it is no longer of any interest to anybody who used to look to films as a source of intelligent - or even semi-intelligent entertainment.

Fortunately, there are many old films readily available - and many of them take on a new life in HD.

As for 3D, despite the industry's best efforts it will have a very circumscribed future whether on the big screen or at home, where 4K will eclipse 2K within a few years.

Maybe we should blame poor screenwriters and directors who lack restraint over 3D itself. It's just another tool for filmmakers to work with.

This whole anti-3D movement reminds me of how many people used to (and some continue to) condemn any and all uses of CGI because many early uses of it were poor and gimmicky.

It's not perfect - the glasses, color loss, and extra price are all issues that still need to be overcome - but 3D isn't going to ruin any movies. Any movies you feel were ruined by 3D probably weren't very good in the first place.

Toy Story 1&2 were terrific in 3-D. I suppose that's because the STORY was the most important part, not any gratuitous 3-D gimmickry.

You should watch How To Train Your Dragon.

3D adult films....

What a thought. ;-P

i don't think the real 3D (polarizing) movies are getting pervasive, what worries me more is that todays animations (such as UP, CARS RATATOUILLE) are almost always 3D animations, they did not need to be always 3D animations, kids and adults still like old style animations

Just another reason for me to avoid movie theaters.

Some of us don't enjoy the 3D experience.

Will journalists continue to ask vague, rhetorical questions to fill their quota of written articles for the week? Yes.

It's not that complicated. 3D is simply the latest tool in the movie making toolbox. As CGI was overplayed in the 90's at the expense of plot and acting (culminating in Starwars: Episode I), so may 3D have a tendency to be overplayed right now.

Soon enough, it will go from a novel gimmick to what CGI is now - a tool most often used tastefully, to supplement and enhance the movie experience.

I happen to be blind in one eye. Soon, I won't be able to go out to the movies once they are all in 3-D. Bummer.

I think most people are unaware that this is the first step towards the inevitable holographic projections that one day will become the norm in movie theaters everywhere. Movies are meant to be enjoyed as an escape. A form of art that touches us in a way that leaves a lasting impression and might even change our outlook. I say bravo to 3D and hope someday to be able to enjoy the ultimate in movie entertainment... holographic projection.

Ah, who doesn't long for the Three Stooges 3D eyepokes, hatchet tosses, pie throwing, and other in-your-face slapstick? And who could forget SCTV's "Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Stewardesses"? This, folks, is the future of film making.


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