I got a little glimpse of the future last night.
And it involved a lot of people wearing funny glasses.
I happened to see two different 3-D experiences. First, Samsung’s new 3D TV, and then the 3-D film Clash of the Titans.
Care to guess which was the better experience?
It was the TV.
The screen was crisp and the graphics hovered out in front of the set like something out of Minority Report. The content wasn't much, a loop of sporting events, but 30 seconds of a soccer game was all I needed to understand the potential.
Of course, for the full 3-D experience you'll need a new TV, a new Blu-Ray player, and don't forget the special 3-D glasses. A steal at $249 a pair.
Well now, perhaps the movie is looking a little more affordable eh? An extra 3 dollars a ticket doesn't seem so bad if you get a 3-D experience in return… Except this isn't real 3-D. This is a 2-D film, converted into 3-D.
Seems the producers of Clash of the Titan decided they'd spend an extra 5 million to convert the flat 2-D film into 3-D. Or almost 3-D. Call it 2 and half.
Now, I’m not a fan of 3-D but I’m know when it’s done right. Avatar. Coraline. Up.
Of the new breed of 3-D films Clash of the Titans is the worst viewing experience I have seen in years. Some scenes have no depth at all. Take off your glasses and you'll see little or no difference. Often one or two characters appear to hover in front of the background. The effect is basically that of a children’s pop-up book.
Many film blogs have relished sharing the details that the producers actually outsourced the 3-D conversion to a shop in India. Meanwhile SFX wizards are pointing out that most theatres aren't equiped to properly project 3-D films. The polarized sunglasses you wear darken the image and hurt picture quality. One can imagine the animators who worked on the new and improved Kracken crying when they see the muddy results.
Now, let’s be clear. Without or without 3-D, Clash of the Titans is no future classic. It’s the Showgirls of action films. A quick and silly sword and sandals adventure, (regarding Medusa, our hero says “Don’t look the bitch in the eyes”) with a plot that belongs in the Mighty Hercules cartoon.
But who cares right? We just want to watch Sam Worthington slash stuff!
Meanwhile movie theatres are converting to 3-D capable systems as fast as they can. Far from being a novelty, 3-D films are beginning to clutter up the multiplex forcing theatre owners to make tough decisions. The charming How to Train You Dragon barely got a foothold before Clash of the Titans came along.
But the worst effect of the return of 3-D is how it brings out Hollywood’s shallow side.
Now more than ever it's not about how good a picture is, it's about the spectacle.
The industry considers movie like State of Play or Duplicity failures. All that money for big movie stars and nothing to show for it? So why waste time writing something smart and hard to sell? If you have a movie with a great visual component just slap a 3-D on that title and you’re set!
So get ready for Tron 3-D, Smurfs 3-D, Piranha 3-D, Harry Potter 3-D, and Erector Set…3-D.
A now in honour of the next ten years of squinting through sunglasses, a classic from Timbuk3.
The Big Picture has an interesting take on why Movie Stars should fear 3-D the most.