Back in March I outlined my objection to the 3-D movies fad, mostly centering on the idea that the technology has been around for decades and has yet to really add anything beyond distracting spectacle to the movie-going experience. This opinion has left me with the odd situation where I saw previews for “Jackass 3-D” and responded not with disgust, but with relief. Out of all the offerings since stereoscopic film once again rose from its grave, these guys… these guys are the ones that get it. Their show is nothing more than distracting spectacle to begin with. No story, no plot. Adding 3-D? Why the fuck not?
The Jackass ads would have you believe they’re making a mockery of 3-D, but really they’re just standing out because they’re not trying to sell you on it as the next great revolution of cinema. It’s refreshing. Meanwhile, George Lucas and James Cameron have recently confirmed that in 2012 they’ll be releasing 3-D versions of “The Phantom Menace” and “Titanic”, respectively. In the former case, I suppose it’s because Lucas still feels he didn’t cram as much shit as he could have into every frame, so needs Jar-Jar to now actually overflow into the audience. In the latter case, uh… shit. How about I just quote a rare moment of truth from the industry?
There are people who champion “Avatar” and “How To Train Your Dragon” as 3-D Done Right, because they were natively filmed that way. You can have your opinions on that and I’ll have mine, but the most wretched examples of the 3-D craze come from movies that were retrofitted for it after the fact, and that’s exactly what Lucas and Cameron are doing now. They can talk all they want about being careful with the process and making sure it’s of the highest quality, but there’s absolutely no defensible argument that this is going to help the storytelling of the movie, because 3-D was never part of that composition. At best, it’s unnecessary, while at worst, it’s just an unimaginitive, wretched grab for money from theatergoers.
I mean, in my original article, I didn’t completely throw out the idea of 3-D somehow maturing as a cinematic art form. Hitchcock tried it and walked away unimpressed, and Cameron is, at base, just playing with gadgets… but somewhere out there, perhaps, is the genius who is going to wow us all and turn my nays into yays. As I was poking around the articles concerning the Lucas and Cameron announcements, I turned up some older ones. In particular, I turned up this one.
For those of you too lazy to click, Martin Scorcese is shooting his next movie, “Hugo Cabret“, in 3-D.
How should I feel about this? Well, on the one hand, Scorcese is quite the director. On the other, this doesn’t seem to be typical Scorcese fare, more in the kiddie-friendly, fantasy style that some folks are comfortable going ahead and tossing 3-D onto. It’s not like he’s announced a 3-D rerelease of “The Departed”, right? So this may not be the project I’m still holding the door open a crack for, the one that might give 3-D meaning by bringing it relevantly into the realm of storytelling beyond the simple “ooh, ahh” factor.
Another point: several here on The Satellite Show never want to watch “Precious” again under any circumstances. Scorcese is on record as saying it should have been in 3-D. Whatever your feelings on Precious, it’s exactly the sort of movie that 3-D (at least as we know it) would seem absolutely wrong for.
So. Either Scorcese is convinced he can succeed where Hitchcock failed, or he’s gone completely insane. In the interests of not being the guy standing around shouting “Get a horse!”, I suppose I will withhold judgement in this particular case. Ain’t like I can stop him, after all. We’ll see what happens.