Does 3D ruin cinematic realism, or add to it?


3D movies are nothing more than a gimmick, a new film industry trick designed to coax us back into theatres. There was a recent time when the movie industry was truly struggling, and 3D was the shiny new toy to get us interested, because we’re easily distracted. I can’t think of a 3D movie that I’ve seen where the extra dimension has increased my experience. The only 3D film that has stuck with me is Avatar, which is touted as the first 3D movie. Avatar stands out because it was my first 3D experience – but like the unlucky lady who I lost my virginity to, it’s remembered not for quality but for place.

I admit that Avatar was a fun experience; the glasses were a novelty and had yet to become annoying, plus the colours coupled with supreme graphics were really something else. But days after watching the movie, all of that novelty fell away and the movie stayed with me for different reasons – it was basically Pocahontas.

The movie industry has now worked out how to entertain and make money again; their answer is through franchises, sequels/prequels and utilising existing ‘source material’ that we’re already familiar with. None of us have time for anything new – give me an updated version of something I’m already across and just please make it real-world gritty, I’m very busy.

Think of a movie you enjoy and ask yourself why you like it – chances are 3D didn’t, or wouldn’t have, made it better. 3D has become the glitter that is failing to shine, it’s now simply an add-on. To be fair, cinemas have probably made a decent investment glasses and they have to keep using them. I now find myself actively avoiding the 3D sessions, it gets in the way of what I’m really there to do…to seriously overpay for popcorn.

My most recent 3D experience was Mad Max at IMAX – the glasses I received at the door were similar to what chemists sell in their ‘fashion for 60+’ range, and I’m also pretty sure you could do a spot of welding in them. The movie itself was wonderfully chaotic and much has been written about George Miller’s accomplished movie. What’s interesting to read about Mad Max is that all of the stunts were done for real, not using CGI. What I saw were real authentic stunts and it made for a better cinema experience. That’s as real as it gets.

I can’t help but think that 3D is a fad that’s got out of control. Now, the focus in Hollywood is to build ‘universes’ – take Marvel, Star Wars or Lego as an example. Unlike 3D, the idea of the ‘universe’ creates longevity through actual storytelling and with no a gimmicks. Granted these two ideas operate in separate spaces, but each is used to achieve the same purpose.

I’m referring to reality, and like professional wrestling, movies aren’t real; we all know they’re written, acted, produced, directed, edited and marketed. What is real, are the relatable characters, captivating stories, emotions and other simple filmmaking tools that captivate us. 3D can’t offer reality, it performs a visual trick, but leaves you with nothing at the end of the film.

When you walk out the cinema, after paying for your expensive ticket and overpriced snacks – does a filmmaker really want you commenting on the 3D effects, or, on the film as a whole? It’s like going to see Beyonce and being solely impressed by the fireworks that went off in the background. 3D has had its day, we already experience it in real life and there’s no need for it in our movies. The human race has a terrible habit of trying to constantly improve, sometimes just for the sake of improving. We need better stories on the big screen, and at this rate I’ll be bringing my own glasses anyway, but these ones will be on doctor’s orders.