Glasses Or No Glasses, That Is The Question

Like Babe Ruth did once upon a time, director James Cameron pointed to the back of the movie theater and called his shot when he said he was going to revolutionize movies with his blockbuster Avatar. The flick ended up making a gazillion dollars and taught Hollywood a very important lesson: audiences will gladly pay more money for an extra dimension.

The success of Avatar left studios scrambling to capitalize on the 3D craze that filmmakers like Cameron and Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted. The staggering success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland only served to reinforce the decision to pump out more and more 3D movies. Theater owners are now scrambling to add more 3D projection systems in your local multiplex and movies are fighting each other for the precious few screens that are able to show 3D, as wave after wave of new product rolls out week after week.

But consumer beware, because not all 3D movies are equal.

This weekend the long-gestating remake of Clash of the Titans will be the latest movie to reach out of the screen at the audience. Up until a few months ago, however, Clash of the Titans was not a 3D movie. Seeing dollar signs, Warner Brothers decided to give the flick its extra dimension after the fact.

Why does this matter? You ask.

Movies like Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon were conceived and shot in 3D. That means the filmmakers considered that extra dimension when creating every single frame of the picture. That’s why the vines in the jungles of Pandora crowded in your peripheral vision. Or the flights on the back of the Night Fury gave you vertigo. In creating a 3D movie, the filmmakers must think of the screen as a cube instead of a rectangle. This greatly changes how one composes a shot.

Good 3D should help draw you into a movie. Say what you will about the story of Avatar, but the effects in that movie made you feel like you were on that distant planet. That is the magic of a movie shot in 3D.  Mediocre 3D won't really add much to the experience.  Bad 3D calls attention to itself and reminds you that you're sitting in a room with a few hundred other people wearing ridiculous looking sunglasses in the dark.  

As the 3D trend continues to build, theaters are trying to capitalize by jacking up prices as high as 25%.  Considering that it takes a second mortgage to buy a sodie and some Milk Duds, think about this before plunking down your money and strapping on those polarized goggles.  Do a little homework and find out if the movie was made in 3D, or if it was an afterthought.

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