3-D movie releases too often a gimmick to make extra money
After the critical and overwhelming commercial success of James Cameron's "Avatar" in 3-D, Hollywood studios and filmmakers took the opportunity to increase profits. While 3-D was originally a once-in-a-while release, it has all of a sudden changed to once a week. From theatrical re-releases of Disney films to new releases getting the third dimension treatment, it is everywhere. Contrary to popular belief, 3-D can be done properly and there have been a couple of instances where it has been phenomenal. But with every good 3-D film, there are also multiple instances of unnecessary or poor 3-D.
First and foremost, I feel it appropriate to address the use of 3-D in post-production. This is when a film is shot traditionally but then is adapted to 3-D following its filming. This is what the majority of new 3-D released films follow and it never works. The quality of the film suffers because it lacks any compelling visuals and the 3-D is minimal. Films such as "Clash of the Titans," "Thor," and "Mars Needs Moms" fall into this category. I view this form of 3-D as an attempt to increase revenue from higher ticket sales at the expense of quality. Although two of the films mentioned above couldn't be saved even with well-done 3-D.
Other times you have films that are designed for 3-D and are incredibly effective. Although I've gone on record about the many flaws of "Avatar," it is impossible to criticize the 3-D effects of the film, which were incredible. While impressive, the best usage of 3-D in film is a two-way tie for me. In regard to animation, "How to Train Your Dragon" is easily the most visually stunning use of 3-D. With that said, "Hugo" is the single greatest usage of 3-D because it complements the story as well as the visuals. This is a film where the 3-D enhances the experience, not take away from it, which is what the majority of 3-D films do. I was captivated and wish every 3-D film matched the ingenuity of Scorsese's soon-to-be classic.
Then you have 3-D re-releases of older films. I would like to take this opportunity to say that these are generally well done. Disney has been relatively successful with their releases of "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast," although I didn't find the 3-D necessary. It was more a joy of seeing them on the big screen, but the 3-D certainly would work great for first-time viewers. Speaking of first-time viewing, "Titanic" in 3-D is easily my choice for the finest usage of 3-D in a theatrical re-release. Much like "Hugo," it adds to the overall experience and makes you feel like you are part of the film. I find "Titanic" warranted the 3-D treatment, and it reminds me of some other similar films that could use the treatment including "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "The Terminator."
Looking at the future, it seems like 3-D will be here to stay. Hopefully, filmmakers will begin to make better choices regarding what films need it and the others that don't. James Cameron, thanks, but no thanks, for your advancement.
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