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Stop this 3D madness! December 13, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Technology.
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I’m so sick of watching a promising trailer for a new film, only to see in big letters at the very end, “Coming to you…in 3D”!!!

Here I go again.  I have been consistently vocal in my objection towards this current tidal wave of 3D films hitting our cinemas.  Sure, there are some movies that provide an enhanced experience in 3D — for example Avatar, or dare I even say Resident Evil: Afterlife, but ther vast majority of 3D films out there charge a hefty premium and give you a shitty time with the uncomfortable and darkening glasses and pointless 3D effects.

Worst of all, 3D films aren’t discounted at all, even on cheapo days, and even those that use movie money have to pay a few dollars extra.  For instance, if you go watch a 2D movie on cheapo Tuesday (in Australia), you can catch a film for around $10 (or less if you use movie money on any day of the week).  But if you watch the same movie in 3D, you can fork out up to $24 for an adult ($17.50 + $3.50 for 3D + $1 for Vmax + $1 for internet booking) and $19.50 for a child.  Enough said.

I thought after films like Clash of the Titans (where the 3D actually made the film worse) , the backlash against 3D will make studio execs think twice before making their latest release in 3D, but it hasn’t appeared to slow the trend at all.  According to this article from the Economist, 3D is relatively inexpensive, adding only a 10-15% to the cost of production, with a huge upside and low risk of piracy.  No wonder they’re even trying to re-release a bunch of old films in 3D to cash in.

Much of the blame of course rests with moviegoers that continue to go to 3D movies.  These days I choose 2D whenever the option is available, but I admit there have been times when I have wondered: will the 3D finally be good this time?  Needless to say, it never is.  I’m a frequent visitor to the cinema, but with a lot of people or families who only go a handful of times a year, 3D can seem like a real treat, especially if you haven’t experienced it before.  So I guess as long as people keep paying up to 240% the price of what they ought to be paying, the 3D rush will continue.

It was interesting, though, to see this New York Times article that discussed the backlash against 3D films in Hollywood.  Perhaps it is filmmakers who will take the charge to stop this 3D madness.

Thanks Goodness: No 3D for Harry Potter 7 October 12, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Technology.
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Finally, a bit of sense and decency.

Warner Brothers has announced that the first part of Harry Potter 7 will no longer be released in 3D because they could not prepare the effects in time for release in November.  Let’s commend them for pulling the plug rather than tricking naive audiences to fork out exorbitant charges to watch a crappy 3D version of the film.

I have been pretty vocal in my disapproval of this current 3D craze at our cinemas at the moment.  So far, only two films of the many I have seen in 3D have actually added a net positive to the movie experience — Avatar and Final Destination 3D (the film was still crap but the entire film was centred around this gimmick).  Everything else, from Clash of the Titans to Alice in Wonderland to Piranha 3D, has been awful and nothing more than a waste of viewers’ hard earned money.

Jeff Katzenberg from Dreamworks said it best about the 3D phenomenon when it came to Clash of the Titans:

You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is ‘OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience.  The act of doing it was disingenuous. We may get away with it a few times but in the long run, (filmgoers) will wake up. And the day they wake up is the day they walk away from us and we blew it.

And yet, we keep falling for the scam because we continue to believe that 3D somehow makes a movie better.  When I first heard about HP7 in 3D I wasn’t totally against it because I thought it might be cool to see magic, flying and Quidditch in 3D (do they even have Quidditch in the final book?).  But now, I’ve finally come to my senses.  No more 3D unless everyone starts to claim that it is a must.

The frightening thing is that there appears to be no end to 3D mania.  We’ve got Saw CLXIV (or whatever it is) coming out shortly.  George Lucas continues to milk what’s left of the Star Wars udder by bringing out 3D versions of the old films next year.  Not to be outdone in the ‘can’t let go’ department, James Cameron is apparently re-releasing Titanic in 3D too in the dickiest move since announcing that he is ‘The King of the World’ at the Oscars.  And when The Hobbit is finally made, you can be pretty certain that there will be a 3D version of that too.

Dammit!  Argh!

Observations at the movies August 15, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Technology.
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I went to see The Expendables yesterday (review below) at Hoyts, which has this new concept called Xtremescreen — I suppose created as a challenge to Event Cinemas’ (formerly Greater Union’s) VMax.  It’s all a bit of a scam really.  Supposedly bigger screens, more comfy seats and better sound — things that audiences should get for free anyway, but instead they have to fork out a premium for them.

The good thing for Xtremescreen, at least, is that using cheap-ass movie money, we didn’t have to pay an extra cent (though on the Hoyts website it says you need to pay a $1.50 surcharge).  The screen was no bigger than it used to be, but the sound was louder and the leather seats were not too bad (at least easier to clean).

Anyway, when we were about to get our tickets ripped, this couple went up to the teenage attendant and asked what movie, out of everything that was showing, he recommended.

I could have bet my house (if I owned one) that the kid would say Inception, but instead he said Step Up 3D!

Okay, fine, he likes dancing, but the couple were two morbidly obese, unkempt people dressed in stained grey sweaters and track pants.  Somehow I don’t think they were big dance fans.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the coming attractions.  I want to know what’s coming out but I don’t want to find out too much or learn the entire plot in advance.  And you know they love to put in all the best bits in there.

Yesterday we got the trailer for Dinner for Schmucks (Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell), The Other Guys (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) and Piranha 3D.

I’m a big fan of Rudd, but Dinner for Schmucks looks pretty awful.  Very hit and miss, and judging from the trailer, more misses than hits.  The Other Guys looks more promising, with potentially more hits and misses.  Of course, it could be just the quality of the respective trailers.

As for Piranha 3D, I wouldn’t even know where to begin!  What an obvious rip-off of the classic film Frankenfish! (Just kidding, I’ve never seen Frankenfish but I always thought it was a cool name for a movie).  Anyway, it’s a Jaws homage with a bunch of really badly animated piranhas.  And to top things off, it’s in 3D, which I am totally over.  I’m sick of having to fork out the price of a small meal for a pair of really uncomfortable glasses and with a good chance that the 3D effects really suck and don’t add anything to the movie experience.  Bring back 2D, I say.

Is it worth paying extra for 3D? April 5, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Technology.
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One thing that’s really been annoying me lately is the extra price movie-goers have to pay to enjoy a film in 3D.  Where I’m from, there’s the “normal” price of the ticket, and on top of that there is the arbitrary price for the 3D, and then there’s the additional cost of the 3D glasses.  Some theatres allow 3D glasses to be reused, but others require you to purchase a new pair each time.  When you add it all up, the movies are getting ridiculously expensive these days.

Now if it is a genuine 3D film, like say Avatar (or even The Final Destination), where the experience is truly enhanced because of the 3D effects, I don’t have a huge problem with that.  You pay for it with extra cash and discomfort from wearing the glasses for the entire duration of the film, but it’s ultimately worth the trouble.

But the last two “3D” films I watched, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, both felt like they were riding the 3D tidal wave for a bit of extra box office income.  I was appalled by how little the so-called 3D effects added to the films.  Arguably, I would have enjoyed them more had I watched in ordinary 2D, without the irritating glasses frames, the darker tint of the lenses, and me taking taking them off constantly wondering whether I had accidentally walked into the 2D version.

So from now on, I’m going to be a 3D sceptic.  No more watching films in 3D if those effects have been added in post-production in order to ride the 3D bandwagon — unless, of course, someone tells me I’d be missing out on something amazing.

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