There has been some understandable buzz recently with the news that the Wachowski brothers are planning on releasing a fourth and fifth instalment in the Matrix saga. Now, it is common knowledge that the Matrix films, especially the first, pushed the boundaries of movie-making, both in terms of special effects and conceptually. Perhaps even more striking, are the reports that the brothers are looking to enlist James Cameron and his camp’s help in utilising 3D technology for these new films. Is this a definitive sign that 3D films are the future?
Could this be a sign, along with the hugely impressive and successful Avatar (2009), that 3D has moved on from being just a gimmick; one that has been used for lesser films, to make them more ‘exciting’. Are 3D movies ready to become more commonplace than ever? The problem that still stands with three dimensional movies is that it is almost as if two films are made at the same time; one is 3D and the other is 2D. Unless viewers choose, and have the opportunity to see the film in 3D at a cinema, there is a big chance that they will not have the opportunity to see it in this form on home release. This is a problem that we experience with Avatar, whilst a majestic film in 3D it just doesn’t captivate the same feeling in 2D. It begs the question of whether, if a film is truly great, then surely it shouldn’t need to be seen in any particular format; rather it should transpire throughout all forms.
For example, films such as Clash of the Titans and My Bloody Valentine (2010) illustrate how the 3D technology is being used as a weak gimmick. Valentine falls under the classic 3D horror format, wherein the actual scares come from a weapon or character bursting out in front of the audience, rather than the traditional notion of suspense. Clash of the Titans highlighted perfectly how the wave of 3D revenue can be rode upon; having been filmed initially for a 2D release, the producers decided at the eleventh hour to convert it to 3D as an after-thought. This was a move designed specifically to maximise revenue and nothing else, and it showed, with the film universally slated for its sloppy conversion.
It should also be remembered that, when used properly and with the right intentions, 3D technology can take a great film onto another level. In the animated field, Toy Story 3 (2010) and Up (2009) both spring to mind as good examples of using 3D in the right way, enhancing the viewers experience by adding depth to the film rather than making it shallow. Perhaps more impressive are the efforts of Avatar and Tron: Legacy (2010), in that, although being largely CGI, they have been able to translate live action to the 3D arena, making the film a richer experience; marrying great film making with all of the technologies available. This should be celebrated.
But we could be truly witnessing the next stage of the film making evolution process. Is 3D the new HD, what colour was to black and white films? It is important to embrace all forms of development in the film industry and this 3D movement should be given ample opportunity to prove whether it’s here to stay, or whether it’s papering over the cracks of certain films. It must be said that, considering the way the Wachowski brothers were able to revolutionise film making in 1999, there is a degree of clout in the faith that they appear to be placing in the 3D movement.
It seems there is at least one 3D film out every week now, with some big titles coming out later this year including Drive Angry, Sucker Punch and Thor. Check back and let us know if you think these movies use 3D technology well or not.