Monday, March 26, 2007

Idle threat of the week

Winter may have turned to spring, but it was still chilly yesterday, so the Panel of Judges decided to eschew our traditional first weekend of spring barbecue and head to the local multiplex to take in the latest 3-D cinematic release

OK, save it really being the first weekend of spring, that last sentence was entirely false. Although it does act to highlight the surprising revelation Hollywood sees its future in a 3-D revival.

3-D technology is almost as old as the moving picture, and the earliest confirmation of a 3-D film shown to a paying audience was in 1922. But it wasn't until the early 50's that 3-D movies hit their stride. Not much of a stride, it turned out, and the craze fizzled in the mid 50's, remaining largely dormant until 1980

IMAX theatres sparked the next wave of 3D hits which, like the first, didn't last long.

Now, having burned through the requisite generation of skeptical movie goers, Hollywood has been toying with the next generation of 3-D -- it's apparently much more realistic and has been capturing big per-screen bucks in very limited release.

Since money is usually followed, the next step is to bring 3-D mainstream.

I speak for all the Panel of Judges when I remember the first time I saw a 3-D movie. It was Jaws 3-D and I was a seven-year old shaking in excitement and anticipation when the usher handed me those famous polarized paper glasses. The movie itself was pretty bad, and I quickly learned a shark is no more scary coming directly at you than it is stuck in its two-dimensional cage. In fact, it was sort of annoying when it invaded your personal space.

3-D movie technology is fascinating in theory, and hard not to want to check out once or twice, but it doesn't work in real life. For the same reason virtual reality experiences never took off, neither will 3-D -- no matter how realistic it has become.

People like viewing things in the comfort of 2-D. The imagination can easily add the third dimension.

Hollywood's threat to ruin perfectly good movies with a superfluous dimension will flounder, once again, when mass audiences are exposed to the product.

Instead of providing industry stabilizing revenues, 3-D's latest greatest accomplishment will be garnering Idle Threat of the Week for March 19th to 25th.

It will also prove the old axiom: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it -- in 3-D.

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