Three Angry Nerds: 3D Movies and Why They Need to Disappear

daniel cohen, jason stives and michael dworkis are angry as hell and not going to the third dimension anymore …

With the re-release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace hitting theaters this Valentine’s Day weekend, Pop-Break’s three most valuable nerds (other than Logan J. Fowler) take a look at the dreaded 3D film style. Is it safe to say it’s on its way out? The three angry nerds return with pocket protectors in hand to say why it has always sucked and people should wake up and smell the three-day-old coffee!

Daniel Cohen

Oh 3D, how I loathe thee. I’ve always hated 3D. Why do I hate 3D? It’s simple, really. It’s a gimmick. That’s it. It adds nothing to the experience of a movie, and it costs more. But it wasn’t until last May that my slight annoyance for 3D turned into pure hatred.

When I saw Thor last summer, I specifically chose a show time that was not in 3D. But the dumb theater screwed up, and everyone had to run out to the lobby and grab 3D glasses when they realized the screen was blurry during the previews. It was rather frustrating. But getting back to Thor, when they get to the bad ass scene at Juttenheim where Thor goes ape shit with his hammer, that scene is a little dark to begin with, but with the lame 3D glasses on, it was a complete mess! It nearly ruins the entire scene! What the hell! So not only do I have to pay more for something I don’t care about, but now it’s actually making the film worse!? Wow … that’s infuriating.

What’s so disgusting is that most of these films are converted into 3D after the fact. That tells me it’s clearly a cash grab. Now I know some people are going to say, ‘Well, what about movies like Avatar? That was actually filmed in 3D and looked great!’ I’ll give you there was a difference in the 3D in that instance, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a gimmick. That film is over two and a half hours. Is the 3D really still blowing your mind all the way through? Not for me. The allure of the 3D lasted a good twenty-five minutes, but the fact that there are trees and waterfalls in my face for almost three hours doesn’t help Avatar’s bland story or character development.

I’m all for evolving the technology of special effects in film, but it shouldn’t be the main focus of a movie (Star Wars prequels). Story and character come first. Look at films like Star Wars, Terminator 2, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? They revolutionized special effects, but why are we still talking about those films years later? Because of their actual content! Yeah, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park looked really cool in 1993. Do people really still talk about Jurassic Park though? Not really, and it’s because that movie only had special effects going for it, and those special effects are now ancient history.

Speaking of Star Wars, they say if the Phantom Menace 3D does well financially, they will continue to release the other films in 3D. I can tell you right now, I have no desire to see this film in 3D. Watching Jar Jar Binks stick his tongue out in front of my face is something I’m not willing to stomach. You’re not getting my money, George.

Michael Dworkis

I do not like 3D movies. I saw Avatar a week or so after it was released, and I thought it was a great movie. The visual effects were incredible, and I admit, the 3D aspect worked for the film. That was all. I have yet to encounter another movie where the inclusion of 3D is worth the extra dollars paid for a movie ticket. I have seen a few other movies in 3D, such as Thor and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. I am a big fan of Transformers, and even I thought the 3D had no impact on the film at all. I know some people go nuts to see a movie in 3D, but I have yet to see the value of it.

This 3D craze has gotten ridiculous. Some time ago, we covered the re-re-re-re-release of the Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray with even more altered scenes, and now we are getting the Star Wars movies back in theaters with this ridiculous 3D gimmick. I remember going to Disney in Florida and seeing some short 3D film with cartoon characters jumping out of the screen. Honestly, 3D is nothing new. They make 3D books, 3D magazines, and I remember having a few 3D cartoon films on VHS.

I do not understand why all of a sudden 3D became the next big thing. I think it became the next biggest overrated Hollywood gimmick. Of course, our good friend George Lucas needed to jump on that bandwagon. I mean, we all need to have light sabers flung at us or get that close up of Jar Jar Binks we always wanted. Once they get to Return Of The Jedi, I imagine the dread for getting too close to a 3D-enhanced Ewok. Maybe by then we will smell it, too. What do Ewoks smell like anyway? I am thinking an overrated wet dog.

Now we have Titanic being re-released in 3D. Great, a movie where we know the movie ends in disaster and half the youth population wonders how it ends, or complained that there should have been a happy ending. I shudder at the notion that the younger readers will cry in outrage that I did not use a spoiler alert. Maybe the 3D will do nothing but convince them this was a love story featuring amazing effects. I mean what better film to use 3D technology to watch Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet make out, or just watch victim after victim hit the water. Now THIS is what moviegoers want to spend their extra money on.

Hollywood needs to grow up. 3D technology in films is overrated, and completely useless. The film industry is hurting and they need money wherever they can get it.

Sniff … sniff … I think I smell a Ewok.

Jason Stives

I don’t think I hate things as much as my colleagues do, and sadly I’m the one that brings an unreasonable amount of civility to our rants. This time, however, I truly detest our subject and don’t see a silver lining on the horizon. I loathe 3D with a farcical passion. There is a reason it came and went in the late ’50s along with the wildly panned Smell O’ Vision — it’s a hokey hallmark that, much like today, was used as a way to get butts in the seats when attendance figures were down. The difference between now and then is the industry isn’t suffering money-wise after having its best summer in God knows how long. It’s just a way to make more money because apparently studios think the audience is stupid.

While I will question the attendance figures of some films over others, most movie goers are smarter than that. The 3D scheme works best when it’s used with films it’s intended for. As much as I declare my disdain for Avatar (outside of some dazzling visual effects and some quality sci-fi themes), that film was always intended to be made in the 3D format, hence why it works for that, if only for a good half hour. Since Avatar, many films have passed through a post-production conversion to 3D, and the results are terrible. Like Daniel mentioned about Thor, it’s unnecessary on specific films, and it just makes it look awful. If I didn’t hate Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland enough, the post 3D conversion made it look even worse than it already was. (Yes, I said it. Sorry folks, just because it has Johnny Depp in it doesn’t mean it’s gold. Need I remind you of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory?)

There are already clear signs that 3D films are on the outs even if studios still insist on tacking it on to every picture. Ticket sales for films shown in 3D were down this summer with films like Thor and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 showing greater 2D ticket sales than 3D ticket sales. So apparently Hollywood is getting concerned about this, as if there wasn’t a time they didn’t rely on 3D for marketing big-budget blockbusters (try and say that five times fast drunk). Oh my, what will they do without 3D to market their already profitable and hyped films?! Gee, I don’t know, maybe just market them regularly and at least have some comfort in knowing that you don’t need a catch to get people don’t go to the movies. As expensive as tickets have gotten (I counted $11 the other night when I went), people still love movies, and just because there is a catch doesn’t mean that that is what is winning their interest.

It’s seems more and more like studios are just becoming desperate to tack it on in fear of a failure. December will see a remake of The Great Gatsby with an all-star cast that includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Toby McGuire, and Isla Fisher. That in itself should get people interested, but nooooo. It needs to be in 3D! For what!? Why would a drama like that need a 3D makeover, so that I can see a Model T Ford lunge at my face!? This whole thing needs to stop and I do believe eventually it will slow to a halt. Maybe when pornography that is shown in adult theaters starts converting to 3D, then the fun will be over … oh wait, they did that!

This weekend has seen the re-release of The Phantom Menace to theaters in 3D, just adding on another reason for fans to hate George Lucas. For kids, it will be great, especially new fans of Stars Wars, and I can live with that. For others like myself, it’s just another nail in the coffin in this dreaded format. Sure, it will probably make big bucks (I guarantee it!), but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s unnecessary. Keep it on family films if you want since that seems to be the only time they actually work is with kid’s movies and animated features, but stay clear of the non blockbusters. Lord knows I don’t need to see The Crying Game converted to 3D — I’ll have nightmares forever.

FURTHER READING
Pop-Break co-founders Brent Johnson and Bill Bodkin debate 3D in March 2010, shortly after Avatar‘s reign at the box office …

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I feel like these posts are way too one-sided. I personally believe there ARE some acceptable examples of 3-D, but they unfortunately get lost in the sea of gimmicky use. Subtlety is important with 3-D, and that doesn’t seem to be something films use much anymore. 3-D should be used to add depth and scale to a scene, not to throw things in your face all the time. This is where the problem lies and the concept suffers.

    For example, I saw the last Harry Potter film twice in theaters, once in standard 2-D and once in 3-D. Now, it wasn’t every second of the film, but there were some great examples of how the added depth really affected the feel of the shot. The best example I can think of were at the beginning when the sound is near silent and we see a wide shot of the castle, surrounded by dementors. The depth that the 3-D added to that shot, a shot that I had already seen in 2-D, really caught me off guard. The environment seemed grander, and the threat of what was to come felt much more palpable. The sense of foreboding was much greater.

    I unfortunately did not get to see Hugo in theaters, but most reviews I read said that it made a solid argument for the use of 3-D. I’m a pretty big Scorsese fan, and I find it hard to believe that with him at the helm, this statement would be anything less than true. However like I said, I have not yet seen it myself, so I really don’t have my OWN opinion to throw in on this film.

    Lastly, as briefly mentioned in this article, computer animation works incredibly well with 3-D. Take Pixar’s “UP” for example. It fits in well with what I said about the Harry Potter movie adding a sense of depth to the imagery that can make the overall film look much more impressive. With such vast settings, that added depth gives the viewer a much greater sense of the scope of the world Carl has to travel through. And, a little less necessary, but something I still enjoyed, is what 3-D can do for textures in a film like that. The slightest detail becomes more noticeable, like the fabric on a couch or Carl’s jacket, or the look of the aging wood in and around the house.

    The technology itself is not the gimmick. It’s how the technology is used that is the gimmick. I believe 3-D can be a useful tool in terms of a film’s cinematography. Unfortunately, it has not been used effectively in that regard just yet, and even more unfortunately, it may die off again before we really get to see what could happen if a film ACTUALLY makes good use of it. Why go through the trouble of planning a meaningful shot with an extra dimension when you can just throw things at the audience for the hell of it?

  2. (Jason Stives) Co Author’s Note: You make a very valid argument, the technology is a unique one and yes it does work as I said in my portion that it can work if done right, the Pixar films work well with that except for Cars 2 which I accidentally saw in 3D and felt didn’t work with it to its advantage. It can be a great tool but what we are focusing on is the gimmicky nature, the blatant distribution of it to collect bucks i.e. the post 3D conversion that films like Clash of the Titans, Alice in Wonderland and THor have befallen. When marketers throw the IN 3D graphic up more than making the content of the film important. Its also very difficult on the eyes in a way. After almost 3 hours of Avatar my eyes were really starting to hurt wearing the glasses. I think alot of our disdain for the 3D product comes from people we have come across in every day lives who only go just for the 3D not for the fact that it could be a good film. It’s not everyone but when its the catch over the actual movie that interests people thats what hurts for us.

    Yes our columns are one sided but we do this for fun and to make banter, its one sided because its “3 nerds” and their opinions. I wouldn’t expect everyone to take us seriously, we have an audience that either totally disagrees or who share the same sentiments and go “RIGHT ON!” when we put these gripes up. But thank you for the comments, you made a very engaging and truthful point! We love our readers! =)

  3. I didn’t mean “these posts” as in “this entire website.” I just meant the three individual opinions on this article itself. Don’t want to sound like I’m saying anything bad about pop-break in general.

    I see the point in those cases and agree entirely. Although films may not always use the post-production process to be a gimmick but rather a way to release a film in 3-D within budget, it still doesn’t change the fact that it darkens and alters the image in a bad way. I’m agreeing for the most part, but just felt the need to defend the (unfortunately few) instances where the technology is used right. THAT’S where I felt this post was a bit one sided. There was very little, if any mention of 3-D as a tool rather than a gimmick.

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