3-Dumb: Why 3-D is Better Today than It Was

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A little bit of a story before I really start off here. I’m just sitting in bed, watching Netflix. I couldn’t find anything to watch, so I’m browsing around. I stumble upon Jaws 3. “Wow,” I tell myself, “it’s been a while since I’ve seen this one. I’ll give it a watch.” First thing I notice is how the screen is fuzzy…like it was in 3-D. “No way. This can’t be in 3-D, can it?” Still, I went and grabbed a pair of 3-D glasses I had from Friday the 13th 3-D and tried them on. Voila! I don’t know if my eyes are screwy or if it actually worked, but it was in 3-D! I was ecstatic! Then I was less so as I saw how it was utilized. It got me thinking, how has 3-D changed to be what it is now? Now I don’t mean the advancement of technology; that’s obvious. I mean how has the use of 3-D in films changed to where it is objectively better than it was as the gimmick for washed-up franchises?

Let’s use Spy Kids 3-D as an example. It’s recent enough to where the 3-D technology isn’t so outdated, so people can’t write it off as a bad 3-D movie for that sole reason. However, it is a really bad 3-D movie. Then let’s compare it to the new Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, and how the use of 3-D complimented all the other aspects of the movie.

Ok, so to start off with, Spy Kids 3-D’s marketing campaign was specifically designed around the fact that the movie was in 3-D (probably because the movie had nothing else going for it, but that’s for another time).  In the commercial, one of the main characters thrusts their arms towards the audience and everyone in the theater goes “Oh! Ah!” Since the beginning of 3-D technology, this was the way it was used: to have something jump out at the screen to shock and amaze you. Frankly, even when films try to do that today, they fail miserably. It’s a dumb, cheap way to sit butts in the seats.

When we examine modern movies, like Doctor Strange for example, the 3-D works incredibly well. Why? I think it’s a change in the philosophy of how 3-D movies are done. Instead of pushing the 3rd dimension onto to the audience, filmmakers have pulled it back, creating depth within the 2-D plane of a film screen. Like looking through a window, you see everything at the seemingly appropriate distance. Now, of course some films do this poorly, and if you sit in the front corners of the theater, the effect is lost.

That’s about it. Tell me, do you think 3-D films have surpassed their gimmicky origins or do think that they’ll be left on the wayside someday soon?

Brian Alexander
Senior Editor Contributing Writer
Brian Alexander, you’re typical 20-something guy with a passion for film and all things dweeby. Currently a film production major at the University of Florida and writing about all the good (and bad) movies coming out over the coming days, weeks, and years!
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