3D: A Gimmick or the Future of Film?

Nowadays, it’s rare when you drive by the movie theater and don’t see “3D” attached to a movie title somewhere on the marquee. My Bloody Valentine 3D. Coraline 3D. Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. It’s all over the place.

Now that you’re starting to see 3D movies pop up (get it? Hey-o!) in theaters across the nation, the question of whether or not it’s a gimmick that will pass in time or is a legitimate effect that will continue to grow is one that you’re seeing discussed more and more.

For many, the term “3D” is still associated with those goofy, headache-inducing blue and red glasses from the 3D days of yore. However, if you haven’t seen a 3D “2.0” film, it’s hard to understand just how far the technology has come. Gone are the blue and red colors that created the effect in the past and in their place are all the colors you’d see when watching the 2D version. The only difference is that there’s a slight tint to the glasses making the picture just a bit darker than it would be otherwise. It’s an impressive sight for those experiencing it for the first time and is one that has hooked this particular movie-goer.

Now, for some, like producer Michael Bay, 3D movies contribute nothing to the world of cinema… It’s simply another iteration of the 3D “gimmick” and, as before, will eventually fade away. However, for many others, including James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, 3D is the next step in cinematic evolution. The reason behind this is because as opposed to a flat, two-dimensional image, 3D movies are stereoscopic as is our own vision. What this means is that by artificially adding depth to a movie, we’re more likely to be drawn into that world as it’s more akin to how we experience things; Stereoscopically.

Asides from the wow factor we all experience when we first see an image jump off the screen for the first time, there are some rather obvious and sometimes annoying issues with 3D movies. As you undoubtedly guessed, the first is the use of 3D glasses. They’re large and annoying, but without them, all you’d see is a blurry mess on the screen. In addition, watching a 3D movie can sometimes bring on a most haneous headache. One other problem that can arise is a tendency for the filmmaker to rely on the 3D wizardry a little too much and less on the actual characters and storyline. When that happens, the 3D aspect of the film does become a gimmick because it doesn’t work to enhance the storyline and the overall experience. Simply put, when this happens, it becomes the experience instead of adding to it. While it’s still neat, a 3D movie with a weak story is still a bad movie, 3D or not.

Now, in my (un)professional opinion, I think that 3D is going to stick around for a while this time. You’ll see more and more 3D movies hitting the screen, especially in animated films. In fact, we’re already seeing it. Eventually, 3D will start showing up in more live action motion pictures (Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D) and eventually, it’ll be a pretty common occurance. However, for cinematic purists, I highly doubt you’ll see Academy Award-esque movies using 3D anytime soon and “No,” they won’t go back and re-release Hannah and Her Sisters in 3D… at least not in the near future.

One thing to keep you eye on (when the wife isn’t looking) is the porn industry. Yup, you heard me: The Porn Industry. In the past, whatever train the adult film companies hopped on (VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray) was the way the film industry went as well. Now, I’m not saying that Hollywood is keeping a close watch on every move the adult industry makes, but for whatever reason, the Dirk Digglers of the world seem to have a lot of sway, so to speak, in the motion picture industry. Yes, I know my examples above are all formats and 3D is not a format, but mark my words, when you walk into your son’s bedroom to find him staring into his computer monitor with a pair of 3D shades on, you’ll know that 3D is here to stay.

So, what do you think, is 3D the wave of the future or just another gimmick to get folks into the theater?