Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

So who does like 3-D?

Now that’s what I call a 3-D movie. There is, sadly, no way around it. The return of 3-D is one of the big  stories of the cinematic decade. Though only around 20 percent of Irish screens showing films available …

Sun, Nov 1, 2009, 23:55

   

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Now that’s what I call a 3-D movie.

There is, sadly, no way around it. The return of 3-D is one of the big  stories of the cinematic decade. Though only around 20 percent of Irish screens showing films available in 3-D were able to offer punters the process this summer – the rest showed the old-fashioned flat versions – those screenings accounted for about 50 percent of takings for the relevant pictures. Yet, however many people you ask, you never seem to find anybody who actually likes the blasted business. It’s the Robson and Jerome of its era. The phenomenon is a roaring success, but its fans all seem to live in remote caves or in bubbles at the bottom of the ocean.

Okay, the story is not quite so unfathomable as I have suggested. Whereas almost all adults will tell you they find the process underwhelming, uncomfortable and overpriced, younger children do tend to enjoy putting on the glasses and ducking the hurtling spears. You may complain about Pixar giving in and issuing Up in 3-D, but the truth is they had no serious alternative. If a kiddie’s birthday bash arrives at a screen showing Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3-D and a flat version of Up you can be fairly certain which entertainment the young consumers will plump for. For all his talk of immersive 3-D, Pixar’s John Lasseter knew that he had little choice but to order the Upsters to make with the digital depth-finders.

So what? To this point, 3-D films have tended to be family entertainments anyway. The number of kids who get excited by the thought of a bumpy Up, Ice Age or Meatballs greatly exceed the number of parents scared away by the thought of paying more money to see a darker screen in marginally greater discomfort. The success has encouraged exhibitors to install digital projection systems — thereby saving the studios money on print costs — and the 3-D presentations have proved much harder to pirate. Who cares if only kids like this stuff?

James Cameron. That’s who. The beardy Canadian made Titanic the biggest film in history by appealing to virtually every demographic. Okay, Avatar, which opens in a little over a month, will also be available in flat prints, but, what with so much of the promotion focussing on the 3-D effects, Cameron clearly believes that those old enough to vote do genuinely crave the process. I am still unconvinced. Is there anybody out there over the age of 15 who would give a fig if 3-D withered away yet again? Come to think of it, is there anybody out there still excited by Avatar?

Anyway, if you do fancy the gimmick then Disney’s A Christmas Carol is coming at you later this week. And I mean coming at you.

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