To 3-D or Not to 3-D?

3-D movies do not make a film better and are a waste of money. 

To be clear I have been to 3-D movies and have actually enjoyed one or two.  They are an experience that can be enjoyed just as you enjoy a good nature film in IMAX.  But, a theatrical, narrative film cannot be made better with 3-D.

There I said it.  That is my preference, and as with most things we prefer, (i.e. liking the color green more than blue) is very personal and usually indefensible.  But let me give it a try and see what you think.

First, when a really good movie comes out the actors are usually asked why they decided to do the movie.  Invariably, they usually say either, 1) the script was just so good that they had to do the film or, 2) that they wanted to work with the director and/or the other actor(s).  And of course sometimes they do the film just for the money.  But they never say that if the film turns out to be really good.  What you also never heard was George Clooney saying he decided to do Gravity because “once I learned that it was to be filmed in 3-D I just knew I had to do it”.

Gravity2Second, any good movie starts with the written word.  It can be from a novel, play, short story or an original screenplay.  The quality of the source material is usually so good that once you start reading it you don’t want to put it down.  Then the original material is developed into a great script.  It has been said that a great actor can read from the dictionary and make it sound dramatic.  A great script can elevate the performances of actors.  A script also sets out to describe the characters, their backgrounds, the scenes, the tone, sound and feel of the film.  It helps convert the written language of the source material into the visual language of a film.  This is when the production team goes to work fleshing out this visual language into something that will support the story they are trying to tell.

All of the choices the production team makes are based on only a few constraints.  1) Do the lighting, cinematography, and sets, etc., help tell the story in the best possible way?,  2) does this sound, these costumes, and music fit within our budget?, and  3) do these actors, special effects, and stunts help the movie sell more tickets?

When the production team decides to film in 3-D, that decision (in my opinion) is based more on Gravity-directorwanting to sell more tickets than in telling the story in the best way possible.  That being said, I am sure that Alfonso Cuarón found that directing Gravity in 3-D an exciting challenge.  But it probably would have still have been as nominated for Best Picture without 3-D.  But I am absolutely sure it would not have been dominate if the story was not as absolutely riveting as it was.

So, in my way of thinking, if 3-D does not make a bad film good it is not worth the $3-11 increase in ticket price (depending theater and market).  And since I also believe that 3-D does not make a good film into a great film the additional cost is better spent is seeing more good movies than in seeing 3-D movies.