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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What do you think of 3D?

August 28th marks not only the release of Zombie's highly anticipated (for some) release of "Halloween II," but the one I'll be queuing up for is "The Final Destination" in 3D. I like the series and its preposterously, elaborately staged disaster scenes, and I'm sure it will be even more intense in three dimensions.

What do you think of 3D? Last year I organized an event for television professionals about the future of television at which News Corp's then-president Peter Chernin predicted that 3D was the way motion pictures would go. Other executives and studio heads have agreed.

It's certainly not a new process. 3D films have been in existence since the silent days. Even Alfred Hitchcock made a 3D film, "Dial M for Murder," but it was usually seen flat.In its first heyday in the 1950s, 3D was part of the studios' arsenal (along with various widescreen processes) to compete against the new threat of television, but the anaglyph (red and green) glasses required to view the effects resulted in headaches and crossed eyes.

I saw a re-release of 1953's "House of Wax" in the early 1980s, and it was projected in the stereoscopic process, meaning slightly tinted polarized glasses were used, resulting in a clearer, more spatial picture. But then came all the anaglyph releases: "Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared-Syn," "Comin' At Ya!", "Friday the 13th 3D," "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare." Once again cross-eyed audiences went away, turned off not only by the process but by some truly terrible movies. "Friday" was fun in 3D, but have you ever seen it flat on television? Ridiculous.

Today, digital 3D (like Real D) has replaced the anaglyph method. Based on the stereoscopic technique and bolstered by computer technology, it provides a sharp, clear, colorful picture with amazing depth. I saw "My Bloody Valentine 3D" in Real D, and I was blown away.

"The Final Destination" will also be presented in Real D, so I know the effects will be great. But 3D alone does not make a great movie. As much as I enjoyed "My Bloody Valentine," I think if I had seen it in 2D, I'd have found it to be a serviceable but not exceptional thriller. I confess I haven't seen any others yet, but if it's good when it's flat, it'll be even more exciting in three dimensions. And unfortunately the 3D process hasn't made a satisfactory transition to the home theater yet, although I'm sure that's just around the corner.

And getting back to "Final Destination," imagine how awesome it would have been to see that insane freeway pile-up from Part 2 in 3D. Since the technology allows producers to go back and recreate 3D versions of old movies, we'll probably be seeing a lot more of that in the future.

What old films would you like to see remastered in 3D? Comment here and I'll share your opinions in a future post.

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