“After Toy Story, there were 10 really bad CG movies because everybody thought the success of that film was CG and not great characters that were beautifully designed and heartwarming. Now, you've got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They're expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they'll be putting out an inferior product.”
- James Cameron
OK, so I wake up this morning and I have two very simple demands from life
1)I want to watch Green Lantern.
2)I DON’T want to sit bleary eyed and stare at a dim, fuzzy screen with tears streaming down my face.
Yeah, that was apparently one wish too many.
Once meant exclusively for grindhouse theatres for its potential shock value, 3D was re-introduced as a piracy-stymying effort and an excuse to jack up the ticket prices of mediocre movies where things go “boom” at the camera. When done well, it’s a decent, if sometimes distracting element to the experience, à la Avatar, but more often it is what I experienced today, dim, hazy and a wreck.
There are 3 major problems with 3D. One, when films are not actually shot in 3D but converted to the format during the post-processing stage, the effect is just horrendous. At its best, it has the depth of paper cutouts moving in layers, at its worst, it just seems like you are watching a movie with the projector light turned all the way down. The super-dork glasses are just there to make you hate yourself even more. Two, the technology allows only half the light into each eye, making the picture dull, shallow and dim. Yeah, REAL immersive. The other problem, of course, is the projectionist. See, from what little I know, being a projectionist requires a certain level of skill. Unfortunately, since most of the movie theatres seem to hire only the recently lobotomized, their work is less than optimal.
This particular theatre I had the misfortune of going to, which I shall not name because I am a gentlemen who does not point fingers, especially against large corporations that can sue the pants off me, had outdone itself, because the projector was clearly being operated by someone who had already donated his brain to science (I am sure he extracted it through his ear hole with a pair of tweezers). I smelled trouble the moment I put on the SuperDorkTM 3D glasses over my regular glasses, and saw three distinct lines of subtitles. Now ordinarily this would not be a problem, but this time it was because it was the same line.
I closed my left eye. Now there were two.
I closed my right eye. Again, two.
I opened both eyes. Yes, once more there were three.
After winking at the screen like an idiot for more than just a few minutes (Why yes, I am obsessive, how’d you guess?), I turned my attention to the rest of the picture. If I squinted from a very specific angle, digging my chin into my chest and peering with an eye half-closed, I could kind of make out patches of clear picture. During some scenes. However, as a movie watching experience it blew chunks. I kept thinking how much better the experience would be in the traditional format, and how I was essentially paying extra for an inferior product. And here’s the kicker, I had no option.
Green Lantern, my movie of choice, has been released in both 3D and 2D. However, in most metros in India, movie theatres don’t even give you the option of watching the movie in the traditional, more-enjoyable-by-far format. In a concerted effort to gouge the customer and drive him even more towards DVDs and piracy (because don’t kid yourself into thinking that’s not happening), most of the Hollywood movies that release in 3D are shown exclusively in that usually inferior format in ALL the theatres and multiplexes.
I have nothing against 3D. Sometimes, when a film is shot in 3D, it actually works, creating a world and setting you IN it. But guess what? Good movies do that anyway. And while Green Lantern, is in by no stretch of imagination a good movie, I would still have liked to watch it the way it was meant to be watched – without silent screams, curses and tears.