It seems that Hollywood and the movie theater industry see 3D as the savior of the theater experience (even with fantastic storytelling, box office numbers are declining). For me, that couldn't be further from the truth. According to Entertainment Weekly, there will be an unprecedented twenty movies released in 3D this year. I really wish they wouldn't. 3D brings with it technical issues, price gouging and piss poor production (maybe we should call it 3P?).
In order to see a 3D image in 3D, you have to wear special glasses. They can either be the colored lens variety (all but abandoned for moving pictures) or the polarized lens variety but you have to wear the glasses. As far as fit and comfort they don't seem they would be so bad except that I, along with tens of thousands of other homo sapiens, wear glasses. The extra downward pressure on my nose and the extra inward pressure above my ear (especially with the bow of my glasses trapped between the 3D glasses and my head) tends to make for a painful movie-watching experience. For additional pain, the act of watching a moving picture through those special lenses (whether you wear glasses or not) causes eyestrain... something I can do without, thankyouverymuch. The last movie I saw in 3D was Harry Potter and the 3D actually ruined the end of the movie for me. My fear is that I will have to abandon the theater experience (something I LOVE) because I won't be able to find a movie that isn't playing in 3D.
Now let's say I've given in and decided to go see a movie in 3D. I go to the window and pay my ever-increasing regular cover charge and I'm hit with a surcharge for use of the glasses. Well, I don't want to pay that for the next movie so I'm going to hang on to the glasses and bring them back with me for the next 3D show I'm forced to watch. I get to the theater only to find out that it doesn't matter if I already have a pair of glasses, I still have to pay the surcharge. No thanks.
Alright, so, let's say they work out the technical details and eliminate the need for glasses, and thus the eyestrain and ocular enhancement tax, there's still the production issues. Last weekend I watched Monsters vs. Aliens on DVD with my nephews. Near the beginning of the movie, an incidental character is playing with a paddle ball. You know, one of those wooden paddles with a rubber ball attached to it by a rubber band (never could get the hang of those things). As he's playing with it, the ball is bouncing in and out toward the camera. I immediately asked, "Was this originally released in 3D?"
The paddle ball exemplifies my problem with production. It's like a new toy that everyone has to play with. It's a, "It's 3D so we have to make things fly at the camera," attitude that causes the effect to be eternally overused such that if you're watching it in 2D just looks stupid. This purposefully poking effect detracts from the story. I just look at scenes like that and think, "yeah, it's in 3D... I get it. Move on." What's wrong with just letting us see the depth of the image and using the in-your-face effect when it makes sense (as when Brendan Frasier and co. and blasted out of a hole by water pressure while riding a dinosaur skull in Journey to the Center of the Earth)?
Wake up, Hollywood! 3D is a tool that doesn't have to be a gimmick. Also, if you're going to keep using it, please figure out a way to make it easier on the eyes.