Recently in an interview with CNN, James Cameron said that he was not worried about how long an Avatar sequel takes. I can relate to that. Cameron is a visionary; he can take his time and get the best script (maybe not get sued and accused of theft), best cast, and most of all push the boundaries of technology. When Cameron is ready, we will have another wave of 3D to help us distinguish between the good technological films and the downright dreadful.
Cameron opened a Pandora’s box and brought out the monster known as 3D. Now Cameron did not invent the format; in fact, many directors even Alfred Hitchcock have dabbled in it, he just went one better and perfected it. But I am sorry to say this Hollywood….you’ve made me hate it.
I am not the only one, I have had relatives, friends and even overheard people ask: “This is not the 3D session, right? It hurts my eyes”, followed by lots of grumbling. I recall my excitement watching Avatar in 3D, and there has been nothing like it since. No one can forget how majestic, colourful, and strange Pandora looked. Unfortunately, neither did rival studios.
The Problem With 3D
I am going to target a horror series that has on occasion amused me, Final Destination. There is nothing better with a horror movie (if you are a sicko like me), than trying to guess the order of who is going to die. Final Destination 5 made use of the 3D format, and I remember there were some pretty exciting sequences (like the Bridge scene). Just one problem; the 3D was lame. Have you ever seen a 3D film where they just stab stuff at the camera for no reason? They do that… a lot. I’ve noticed the whole point-at-the-camera thing a lot. Robocop did it (Did that need an extra dimension? It needed a better script), Green Lantern, and Priest too. To be fair though, all these films are lousy and the 3D should not be blamed.Robocop was a reimagining of one of the most gloriously violent, over-the-top, comedic sci-fi films of the 80’s. It failed in its attempt to get philosophical, but with a better plot, it could have been GOLD. It had the best cast possible, and what was thought to be a top notch director inJosé Padilha (Elite Squad). Green Lantern is a tragedy. How the director of Casino Royale was able to release the equivalent of a cinematic wet fart with Ryan Reynolds as the star I’ll never know. It could have been career ending! Priest was visually stunning… and that is all I can say about it. There is nothing remotely memorable about it.
These and dozens more movies, including the most recent Pirates Of The Caribbean, all beg the same question: Why not a make a better movie, rather than just add a gimmick? There is an insane belief it will sell tickets. 3D eats away at the budget and is an unnecessary trick that frequently doesn’t compliment the finished film.
The Tragedy Of Dredd
Let us perform an autopsy on a surprising victim of 3D, Dredd, killed by Box Office underperformance. For those of you reading this, I hope you will add the Blu-ray or DVD of Dredd to your collection. I’ll wager that there are a lot of you who have not seen this film, or at least you did not see it at the cinema. Poor Judge Dredd, a character failed by a 1995 Sly Stallone misfire.
The 2012 Dredd was written by Alex Garland (who cannot be praised enough, especially for Ex Machina), and directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point), who did a stellar job. They even got the perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, with Oliva Thirlby providing excellent support as Judge Anderson. Lena Headey was captivating as Mama, a villain who truly felt worthy of further exploration. So why do I call this a tragedy? Because it made $41 million on a budget of $35-$45 million dollars and sunk any plans for a follow-up.
Cause Of Death
Dredd is a stunning tableau of violence. The mean-spirited tone of the comics is there, minus the satire and colour. The could be seen as death by lack of advertising, which was virtually nonexistent.In my session, there were five people in there… on a Saturday. The producers should have dumped more money into advertising which would have led to a sequel. But I see it a death blow by unnecessary See it was converted post-cut to the format, HUGE mistake! I even recall there were production problems for the director, with the condition of 3D being lumped in mid-way through filmmaking.
The shame here is the film actually makes excellent use of 3D. When the film’s villain plunges headfirst into your vision, it is a grotesque and almost beautiful sight, a marriage of technology and outstanding cinematography. It may seem unfair to blame 3D because of this, but this gimmick detracted from the success of the movie. What it added paled in comparison to the cost of conversion. Why not release the movie as planned for a lower cost and actually make money on your investment?
He’ll Be Back… In 3D
I write this article reflecting on the ditched plans to convert all the Star Wars movies into 3D and re-release them. It was unnecessary and pointless, just like The Phantom Menace (Cry nerds, cry). It seems, however, that Cameron is very much in love with the technology, and now Terminator 2 will return to cinemas in 3D this year. I love T2: Judgement Day, it is without a doubt one of the most epic action movies in history. Why release this? Terminator has had more failed sequels than I have failed relationships. There is nothing 3D can add to the already permanent lustre of Terminator 2. It is the pinnacle of the blockbuster sequel, and its contribution to cinema is a giant example of how to get sequels right.What Hollywood needs to focus on is pushing the boundaries of scripting. Gimmicks like 3D are not going to stick around if the industry abuses the format, which it pretty much has at this point. If the start of the blockbuster season is an indication, we have a writing deficit in an era abundant with technology. There are no visual tricks to covering a bad plot. Filming in 3D is one thing, converting in 3D to make money is a cash grab and the movie will expose itself. Some directors recently blamed film critics for their movies’ underperformance. As a retort, I paraphrase the words of the legendary film critic Roger Ebert; your film just sucks.