BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

Come in Number 3D, your time is up

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 14:16 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

At least as far as cinema goes, 2009 was the year of extra artificial depth: Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, A Christmas Carol and the rest all strived to reach the third dimensional apex that was James Cameron's Avatar. And here are the definitive words you need to hear on the subject...

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

    Here, may i add, here! I think all critics should stand up against this 3D nonsense and refuse to review them. I for one have refused to mention or acknowledge the gimmick in my reviews of said films, instead just concentrating on the story, the acting, the direction, basically what should be reviewed about a film and where possible i will go see it in 2D and review THAT version of the film instead.

    I mean House On Haunted Hill, The Creature From The Black Lagoon and, yes, Friday The 13th Part 3(D) are all perfectly fine when watched flat.

    And what about Avatar on DVD, where it will spend the rest of it's life. How immersive will it be on a 32" television?

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm just waiting until Michael Bay makes Transformers 3(d). The Mark Kermode review of that will be worth watching for a long time.

  • Comment number 3.

    I saw Avatar yesterday. It was the first 3D film I've ever seen. I've also listened to the good doctor's passionate anti-3D stance on this matter. But, have to say, I thought it was pretty incredible and really boosted a pretty mediocre film into must-watch territory. Sure there was the odd pointy spear and gun barrel to make you sit back in your seat, and the 3D works a treat with big falls, but I was totally drawn in by the foliage pointing out of the screen, the sense of depth to every environment, the sense of solidity with the CGI (far, far more tangible than 2D CGI), and ultimately I left eager to see more 3D and a little sad that recent blockbusters weren't available in this format.

    So, sorry, as much as I respect Dr. Kermode's argument, 3D has taken a quantum leap forwar with Avatar and I'm sure that, in 10 years time, naysayers will have to sheepishly admit that filmmakers like Zemeckis and Cameron introduced us to, literally, a whole new dimension of 3D that really WORKS. Forget about believing the '50s and '80s failed "booms" in 3D somehow prove that audiences don't like 3D, this Real3D stuff absolutely stunned me. It's 3D as you always wanted it.

  • Comment number 4.

    You've come to the conclusion that you were right all along? Surely some mistake?! :)

    Meh, I have no strong opinion - I've been sufficiently unconvinced by the hype that I haven't watched any film in 3D this year. But then that's partly because I watched Up because it's Pixar - not because it's 3D. And when I watched Bolt on DVD, it really wasn't that great a film, in any number of dimensions...

  • Comment number 5.

    The thing about the 3D in Avatar is that it may possibly be to good for is own good, they went out to emulate stereoscopic vision and the depth that it has. But because its how we see all the time unless you have things poking out at you the depth that the 3D provides just becomes normal and unnoticed.

    On a side note has anyone found a comfortable way to wear the 3D glasses over a pair or normal glasses, I ended up with them perched on the end of my nose and thankfully Avatar was engaging enough to stop me spending the entire thing fiddling with them.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think it's better to judge 3D live-action films over the animated ones. I agree that seeing Up in 3D wouldn't add THAT much to it. But real actors in real environments, or interacting with CGI people and landscapes felt very immersive in 3D with Avatar. I'd love to see more now. I went with some friends and family, some of whom were similarly dismissive about 3D because they'd seen Up and Aliens Vs Monsters previously, and they were all blown away.

  • Comment number 7.

    The COLOR LOSS! Thank you for mentioning this. I like MBrawn had to wear the 3D glasses OVER my normal glasses and the kept sliding down during the whole movie. At one point I tried to wrap pieces of my hair around the temples of the 3Ds so they wouldn't slide down but I had no luck, so I did end up watching about 25% of the movie with the 3d glasses off ,and yes you're right the image is impressive enough without the damned glasses, though the story is criminally bad white guilt rehash.

    My husband had never seen a 3D movie in his life and after getting over the initial WOW, he has been walking around the house incredulous at how bad the movie was and how many questions went unanswered (Did anyone just try TELLING the Na'Vi that they had the unobtanium? Maybe they had some ingenious way they could have just funneled it out for the Sky People, no fuss no muss...).

    It's gonna take a GIGANTIC rabbit out of the hat for me to overlook such an insultingly dumb script, and I don't think that rabbit is 3D . Are we really giving up on good (flat screened) storytelling so easily?

  • Comment number 8.

    @Dan - Frankly, the CGI characters interacting with the real actors felt no more "real" than Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Paula Abdul dancing with MC Skat Kat in the Opposites Attract video. I actual burst out laughing when Scully was resting in Neytiri's lap towards the end of the film, it looked SO impossibly fake.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree totally with Mark's sentiment that 3d as it is touted at the moment is gimmicky. There're only so many sharp objects they can project from the screen before the experience becomes (forgive the pun) pointless.
    Beyond the flat screen, or even the 2.5d image as it stands at the moment, there is little room for innovation beyond actual immersive CG worlds with a 360' view for the cinema goer, a la Red Dwarf's 'Better than Life' and some of us know how that ended :P

  • Comment number 10.

    The first time I saw a 3-D presentation it was in about 1985 in a tent at (I think) Thorpe Park, when I was 5. It was a 10 minute thing that went pointy, pointy, wavy, pointy, end. Even at that age it was nothing more than a brief entertaining diversion that whilst enjoyable, wasn't anywhere near as magical as my childhood experiences of seeing ET & Star Trek IV on the big 2-D screen.

    When I first saw that new films were starting to come out in 3-D again I was bemused & assumed it was just some novelty that would pass. It was downright laughable to hear that this was supposedly "the future of cinema"! For me cinema has evolved naturally as a 2-D analogue medium & this current digital 3-D obsession is nothing more than a fad driven by mass-marketing hype spewed out by studios. I reckon that 5 years down the line 3-D will be dead in cinemas.

  • Comment number 11.

    You've come to the conclusion that you were right. How new and refreshing.

    Big Kermode fan but your "3D is rubbish" spiel is getting rather old now. Anyone who genuinely loves film knows that it's rubbish, so you don't need to point it out every time a 3D 'enhanced' picture comes out.

  • Comment number 12.

    I wouldn't mind seeing some old Russ Meyer films in 3D! Now that's be an 'IMAX Experience'

  • Comment number 13.

    Well I saw Avatar in 2D first, I thought it was pretty amazing. I am looking forward to seeing it in IMAX 3D on 31st December. By the way, DrK can you give me a list of really really bad films to watch because I am concerned that I haven't seen enough bad films in order to be a good film critic?

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 14.

    Are you allowed to say spear chuckers in this current climate?

  • Comment number 15.

    I decided right from the start that I was going to see it in 3D and I will be seeing all future 3D live-action movies in 3D. I maintain that to insist on 2D when there's a 3D version available is like insisting on fullframe rather than widescreen. Why would I want to deliberately lessen the impact of the film (and incidentally see the film in a format that it wasn't specifically designed for)?

    These days we're all much more savvy about aspect ratios and anamorphic widescreen, and we can be very choosy about seeing films in badly presented versions (the UK DVD of Logan's Run, for example, is the wrong shaps). Now James Cameron has obviously made Avatar in 3D for 3D viewing and shouldn't we, wherever possible, see the film in the way the filmmakers intended?

  • Comment number 16.

    Think you are wrong on this one Mark. Without 3-D, this movie is about as uninteresting as it gets. It's the 3-D that brings the whole movie to life, it's not even the pointy bits, that i could actually do without in honesty. But it's shots like early one when they are being awoken from cyber sleep. The depth and scope in scenes like that are truly mesmerizing. Strip that away however, and the movie, imo, is a complete turd.

  • Comment number 17.

    Avatar 3D. Flat things moving around without any depth.
    Save the planet!
    Save the planet!
    Save the planet!
    Fine, you can start by not wasting money on plastic googles which I'm pretty sure are made out of Unobtainium.

  • Comment number 18.

    I agreed with your much of your review of Avatar, the analogy of an ocean liner turning round was particularly apt. However, I have to disagree with you when you say that 3-D contributed nothing to the film.

    I think 3-D contributed a great to deal to THIS film. The shots of the forest when they were jumping around stroking trees seemed to stretch for miles, and I think 3-D added a literal sense of depth to the landscapes and backgrounds.

    Having said that, for my part, the film was enjoyable enough that I stopped noticing the 3-D except when the subtitles came on. I don't know if it was just my cinema, but nothing seemed to come out of the screen at me - it was more that things disappeared into the distance further than usual. Anyone else experience this?

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm just back from seeing Avatar in 2D with my girlfriend, It's still as visually beautiful and still as baggy as in 3D, and i didn't have to wear Woody Allen glasses and feel nauseous, I can't see how it would've benefited from being in 3D at all, I'm at a complete loss.

  • Comment number 20.

    Cameron's views on 3D, how it should be used and its use in Avatar chime in part with some of Mark K's views

    'Cameron believes that ultimately a good movie should come first, not 3D.
    He adds that 3D shouldn't occupy the minds of film-makers while they're shooting, but should just be another item on the agenda, in theory.
    And that is exactly what everyone else is doing wrong.
    To the rest of the industry, 3D is a way to make money, a gimmick designed to attract audiences and sell tickets, not as a film-making technique.

    Cameron believes so firmly in this idea, that he goes as far as to say that Avatar would still be a ground-breaking movie even if you took out the 3D.
    And that's because from the very ground up, he focused on telling a good story and making a good movie before worrying about the 3D aspect.'

    'When asked about his opinions on other film-makers, specifically Tim Burton and his work on the upcoming Alice in Wonderland, Cameron openly criticized Burton's decision to convert to 3D after the fact. It "doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D," Cameron said.'

    Having seen Avatar in 3D I am planning to see it again in 2D, and I suspect it won't make that huge a difference, the 2D trailer available on the web looks perfectly good enough.
    Cameron waited for over a decade (the script dates back to 1994) for the performance capture technology to appear that could create believable alien humanoids before going ahead with Avatar, not for the 3D.

    It's worth noting that Cameron also had a hand in developing the 3D system 'Real3D' (essentially 2 hi-definition cameras mounted a couple of inches apart) for his 'Ghosts of the Abyss' documentary. Having developed the kit it was inevitable that he'd add it to the Avatar mix.

    As for the future? Given T2 helped launch CGI on unsuspecting film goers, and Cameron foresees the 3D developing to the point that computer and mobile-phone screens will be capable of 3D display - without glasses (!).
    It'll be interesting to see if this is a passing phase or something more substantial.

    It'd be great to see an interview of Cameron by Mark on the Culture Show discussing this.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to agree with you Mark, 3D is a desperate gimmick from a film industry that is flapping at anything that will save it from illegal downloaders (ignoring the obvious solutions such as distributing movies officially for download, having standard worldwide release dates and maybe engaging plot lines?)

    When I saw Robert Zemeckis's "A Christmas Carol" I counted three shots where 3D was in some way useful. Three shots for a 20% increase in a ticket price!

    Oh and Ben McCarthy, if you watch one bad film soon, make it "The Room". A film that is so awful it actually has a cult following of people who screen it in cinemas only to hurl abuse at the screen. The worst acting, set design, dialogue, continuity and direction you are ever likely to have to endure (or enjoy in this case, it is so bad its brilliant)

  • Comment number 22.

    Dear Mark,

    I'm sorry to clutter up your blog with an irrelevance such as this but I'm trying everything I can think of:

    My name is Michael Glass and I'm a third (and final) year Film With Television student at the University of Warwick in the UK, and I'm currently writing a dissertation focusing on stereoscopic film, which I feel is massively undervalued in contemporary film criticism, and in particular the current resurgence of 3D. The questions I am asking are: what are the reasons for the modern resurgence of 3D, and how is it unique in comparison to previous revivals; and what can/does 3D technology provide to film in aesthetic, thematic and dramatic terms, and to what extent is it utilised usefully?

    As there's little literature on the subject - certainly the modern popularity - I'm conducting interviews with filmmakers, historians and so on to get a feeling of how different people think about 3D. Other interviews I've conducted have been with Ray Zone, a 3D historian; Phil McNally, stereoscopic supervisor on Monsters vs Aliens; and Rob Letterman, one of the co-directors of Monsters vs Aliens.

    I am looking in particular to get in touch with you given your strong opinions on the topic - it's fair to say that my other interviewees haven't been too critical of the technology. I would like to conduct an interview with you to function as primary evidence to include in my work. The interview will focus primarily on questions of aesthetics in 3D rather than the economic and technological aspects, although your thoughts on these aspects would not be unwelcome! I feel your input would be incredibly valuable as my intention isn't to necessarily defend 3D (nor attack it, in fairness) and a wide variety of evidence will prove important.

    I would be happy to travel in order to conduct a face-to-face interview. If this proves difficult, my dissertation supervisor, Dr Jon Burrows, assures me that a phone or email-based interview would also be perfectly acceptable.

    The deadline for my dissertation is in February 2010, so there is some time, but of course, the sooner I can make progress the better.

    Should you wish to see any examples of work I have previously done (although they are not on the topic of 3D), I will be more than happy to supply you with them.

    I hope you read this comment - I've tried Hidden Flack and your Five Live producer so far and had no luck!

    Kind regards,

    Michael Glass

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 23.

    i think you're wrong on this one, the 3d did actually improve the film in terms of immersing you into the world of pandora

    i felt immersed in certain sequences to a degree i never felt before in the cinema

    i must say that i wasn't emotionally engaged with the characters or the story as much as i would have liked

    but i was certainly amazed and blown away by the world cameron created and brought to life

    it's definitely the best achievement in cgi and 3d in the history of cinema and for that alone its a must see

    however id be interested in seeing whether it stands the test of time, i think that it falls short in terms of story and character, the primary elements of a great film

  • Comment number 24.

    Yeah, the colour loss thing really does suck. HD with the right backlighting has been all about eye popping visuals in stunning clarity. So to then have to watch everything through a couple of big dark windscreens, has to be considered a real backwards step and certainly not an immersive experience. It's a shame that home is turning into where the real cinema is.

  • Comment number 25.

    I do agree with Mark that the 3D wasn't the impressive point of Avatar, rather it was the CGI creations which generally were pretty impressive. The Na'vi I did occasionally forget were CG creations, and Pandora looks beautiful, like a real world.

    I think the technology that Avatar will really set ablaze will be Blu-Ray (Which is creeping up on DVD but yet to have its "Matrix" which really launched DVD on a huge scale) where it'll look mighty impressive - rather than 3D which will hopefully go away as the gimmick it is soon.

  • Comment number 26.

    Seems simple enough Doctor. If a film is only good in 3D then surely it's not a good film.

    Now could we please change the subject. This is all starting to become reminiscent of your 'death of narrative cinema' bit. Catchphrases don't suit you doctor. You're too good for that.

  • Comment number 27.

    The fact that Avatar is being released in 2D at all shows that not even Cameron believes that it's the future. If he's so convinced that 3D is the future of cinema, he should have refused point blank to avoid any 2D prints being made or circulated. He's not doing that because he won't recoup all the money he's spent on making the damn thing, not just the money he'll get from cinema release but from TV and DVD in the future. Which only goes to prove that all of this 3D malarkey is a financial gimmick, and we're the ones who are funding it.

    By the way olamina - Robert Zemeckis is working on a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and considering his infatuation with motion capture my guess it is will be in 3D. Heaven help us.

  • Comment number 28.

    I just saw my first feature length 3D film in the form of Avatar today, which I thought was entertaining and visually magnificent, although the story was predictable.

    Anyway, back to 3D. I found that in some places it worked really well, such as shots of flying through Pandora and for some odd reason I really liked the way the computer screens and holograms looked. However, I found that to get the best image, I had to focus completely on the point of interest, often anything else was blurred far more than it should be.

    I feel that 3D does have a future in cinema, but it has to be improved so we are able to watch it like any 2D film, without the annoyance of blurring and colour loss.

  • Comment number 29.

    There are many things I think are wrong with Avitar. Its clunky, predictable and annoying at times but Dr Kermode you are flatly wrong about the 3D in Avitar. Yes, there are odd bits of stick pointy spear/arrow/gun/mosters head coming out at you watch but most of the 3D in the film is very subtle and that makes a massive difference. I don't think the computer animation would have worked nearly as well without the 3D. It helped give the animation form and you don't look at the charactors and go they are animated like I would have said a couple of years ago with Grendel or before that with Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within.

    3D isn't perfect yet, some of the effects stuck out like sore thumbs but it is getting better and sooner or later they will get it completely right. Cinema is about breaking boundries, it is why we went to Talkies and colour. 3D is just an extention of that. I don't think it will ever take over as the norm but in this case it severely helped a very average movie.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Sky Diving Spear Chuckers"
    Coming to a cinema near you late 2010.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think the colour loss incurred by having to watch Avatar with 3D glasses on actually improved it. I find the tone of blue a bit too strong on the Na'vi when I see them on images not improved by 3D specs. Wearing the 3D specs in the cinema actually made it easier for me to suspend my disbelief because the less garish shade of blue seemed a little more realistic.

    Other than that, the 3D glasses didn't seem to do a great deal apart from keep the picture in focus. The only really noticeable 3D effect was the cheshire cat launching at me from the Alice In Wonderland trailer beforehand.

  • Comment number 32.

    Re: colour loss. It's really not that bad. Thanks partly to the fact the rest of the cinema is very dark, the screen still looks very bright (and I daresay they compensated slightly by boosting the brightness of the screen.)

    Also, to the people who claim they watched chunks of the film with the glasses OFF.. well, I have no idea how you did that. When I took my glasses off occasionally (to see what the screen "really" looked like), it was a swirly, blurred mess like a '90s "magic eye" moving picture. Unwatchable.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Sky Diving Spear Chuckers"
    Coming to a cinema near you late 2010.

    Umm, well both Worthington and Saldana (Jake and Neytiri) have now signed up for an Avatar sequel; but it looks as if Cameron is going to be in overdrive in the next few years. Battle Angel is probably to be his next big project; as it's about a female cyborg bounty hunter it should please Terminator Fans.

    I'm sure that all the FX in Avatar haven't gone unnoticed by Del Torro and Jackson who are now working on a 2 part adaptation of The Hobbit... especially as Jackson's FX company handled the performance capture work.

  • Comment number 34.

    Mark, I love your reviews and in the majority of cases I agree with what you have to say, but please stop with this personal vendetta against 3D. I could perfectly understand if 3D detracted from the enjoyment of watching a film. Then and only then you would have a case but as it does not and in most cases you can chose whether or not to watch a film in 3D, your constant moaning is frankly childish. Get a grip, people LIKE 3D and if they enjoy it what cinema is about.

    Give it a rest, do the job you're paid to do and review films.

  • Comment number 35.

    "and really boosted a pretty mediocre film into must-watch territory"

    That's the whole point. You knew it was a lame rehash of other better sci-fi epics, you knew it was going to be rubbish because let's face it Cameron is a pretty mediocre film maker, although a brilliant business man and technician. But, you still went and saw it, because you were scared you were going to miss something.

    James Cameron could make a four dimensional film and I still wouldn't be taken in by the flim flam and marketing.

  • Comment number 36.

    Totally agree with serapis points above.

    If it's a gimmick as you are so quick to keep banging on about then fine, the audience will decide but at the moment this is what is pulling in the extra revenue for the cinemas and studios. 3D will work for some films (Sci-fi) but not all and I just don't see why both formats cannot co-exist.
    Avatar was great but what a bloody bad headache I had the morning after - even so, hopefully, if the paying audience want to see more then hopefully more money will be invested into further improvements of the cinema going experiencewe - so lay off, it really is sounding silly.

  • Comment number 37.

    Yes, Avatar was "epic", "majestic", "mesmerising" and whatever other words describe everything but the actual quality of the story and the film as a whole.

    Avatar will be in the cinemas for what, 3 or 4 months? Like all other 3D films, and 2D films for that matter, it will spend the rest of it's life on DVD and Satellite exactly will 3D films benefit from viewings on those formats if they are the future of cinema?

    At the end of the day a film's appeal won't be judged by those couple of months spent on the big screen, as much as i hate to admit it, a lot of great films are mostly seen and discovered on the small screens, whether it be video or television, and if lucky enough you might catch a retrospective screening in an Arthouse cinema.

    My point is that Avatar may be "awe inspiring" in an IMAX cinema, but what about the rest of the population that sees it on the smaller screens? After all the hype, when they pop in the DVD and expect to see "the future of cinema" and "an immersive experience", how impressed will they be when they see what amounts to a three hour video game lookalike on their 32" TV screen, or worse, their 12" laptop?

  • Comment number 38.

    This is from my local Cineworld

    From the 6th of November 2009, we have altered our pricing structure for 3D film to the following surcharge, on top of the ticket price:

    • £1.90. Adults
    • £1.30 Children and Unlimited
    • £0.80 3D glasses

    If you re use your stupid glasses you make a saving of £0.80. So they are charging me nearly two English pounds to see a 3D film. I would love to know the actual cost of buying and installing the new projectors so we can work out how long we will have to pay the extra cost. I understand the need to recoup your costs and to make a profit but what happens when the next gimmick come out? are we going to be paying another £2 for 4D?

  • Comment number 39.

    aww your video just gave me an idea, Blues brothers should be re-released in 3D, with the 3D glasses as knock off wayfarers. Get on to universal!.

  • Comment number 40.

    Actually Mark, I think your problem is that in order to wear 3D glasses you have to take your correction glasses off, and that is why you have no great effect in 3D (you may be suffering from amblyopia on one eye). Trust me, I'm a REAL doctor!

  • Comment number 41.

    I think 3D has its place, is not the future
    is just an alternative and incentive to watch
    the movies on the theather.

    Avatar by itself is a great movie and great CGI effects,
    3D is just a plus, nothing more.


  • Comment number 42.

    Now we just need to get recorded music back into the analogue realm.

  • Comment number 43.

    Firstly, I agree with other posters who say that there is no interesting argument to be had about whether 3D can make a 'bad' film a 'good' film (it can’t).

    Secondly, 3D in film is here to stay. This is a certainty in the short term as the film industry has just invested too much time and money in upgrading all their production equipment and pipelines and cinemas to give it all up too quickly. But more importantly, we know it won’t go away as it has never truly gone away since the start of the previous century. The question is more whether 3D will shrink again as it did after the 1950s, or catch hold this time in as revolutionary a manner as the technological shift from silent movies to 'talkies'. Dr K says no, but what about a view of the potential development of film in terms of the wider context of 3D development?

    A fuller response here:

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm afraid this time I'm going to have to disagree with Mark's comment.
    3D is here and it's here to stay.
    I've seen AVATAR 3 times now (yes... you can say that aloud I'm a big nerd): at the IMAX in 3D, in a Vue theatre (in 2D) and at the Odeon in Leicester Square in 3D (in this order) and I can safely say that the film works much better in 3D.
    The 3D FX makes the whole world much more believable, the story even more involving and the special effects a lot more real.
    Talk to anyone who hasn't seen the film yet and who have only seen glimpse of it on the various trailers around out there. They will all tell you "mmm... it doesn't look too good" (even you Mark, went in with low expectations, you said it yourself... And so did I). And yet, we've all now seen it on the big 3D screen and we can all say that it does look pretty amazing and believe me, the 3D has a lot to do with it.
    3D is not just there to throw things at you (like the last stupid "Final Distination".. which I really hope it's going to be the final one since it was a film made just because they wanted to exploit the 3D FX the way those 50s B-horror-movies used to do), 3D is there to involve you more into the action, to add an extra dimention to the film...
    And if at the end of the film you say "I didn't even notice that it was in 3D", then I say that's a good thing! you're not supposed to notice it.
    Yes, it could be a bit of a gimmick. Yes, a good film should work on 2D as well (actually... it should really work on your telly as well), but then again, in the same way we went from mute films to talkies, from black & White to color, from stop-motion monsters to amazing CGI dinosaurs, we can safely go form 2D to 3D without being too snooty about it.
    As far as I am concerned, I'm here to welcome the 3D generation and I'm curious to see not just how the next generations of director will be able to use it but how the big old masters out there will be able to embrace it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Seeing as this is supposedly the first major 3D release, I'd say the anti-3d rhetoric is a tad hasty to dismiss it out of hand.

    I have to agree with you Mark that when I went to watch Avatar in 3D I was left feeling underwhelmed. Whilst I enjoyed the film, the hype of 3D had certainly not lived up to the promise.

    However, I still see the potential. I left the cinema thinking about how the 3D immersive experience could have been done so much better had the visuals totally surrounded the audience (to the point where they actually felt like they were in it), rather than on a flat "2D" screen. I left with some excitement that this could be just the beginning and that, given time, technology will advance enough to the point where the experience will be a whole lot more than it was.

    I can understand the dislike that some have towards the new "fad". I can totally see the 3D blockbusters of the future being all about explosions and "pointy spears", with films becoming like roller-coaster rides and not as a medium for narratives. But I still believe the potential is there for the 3D experience to add something to cinema.

    When colour cinema emerged, did people write it off because it was not Blu-Ray quality?

    Give 3D a chance to find its place. It's new, and at the moment being treated like a toy to play with. Given time and given technological advances, it will find its feet as a suitable and perhaps at times a better platform for telling stories.

  • Comment number 46.

    Not only don't I understand the point of 3D films, I don't understand the point of 3D in general. Just think about how stupid this is: people actually go to see live performers, for example U2 (why is another question altogether) but they go to see them IN 3D. Are they not aware that they already LIVE in 3D; that their brains are programmed to translate stereoscopic images into 3D? They live in a 3D universe, for heaven's sake! Why would you seek out the need for FAKE 3D? Just how stupid are you people? You'll swallow anything, you'll buy anything.

    And before people say it's about being in an immersive experience and transporting to to somewhere else...well, a book can do that, but sooner or later you realise it's just a book. A normal 2D film can do that too, but once the credits role you snap back into reality. 3D, like Mark says, does NOTHING that isn't already being done. And yet the cinema-going public have actually swallowed the lies and the hype. It's so, so sad.

  • Comment number 47.

    I have seen two 3D films, both times I suffered from terrible headaches and eyestrain - not my idea of fun. For this reason I will be very upset if 2D films become a rarity.

  • Comment number 48.

    I actually enjoyed Avatar, having gone in with pretty low expectations, and I especially enjoyed watching it in 3D. I am yet to see the 2D version so am still unsure about how much of my enjoyment was down to the 3D aspect and how much was down to the actual film and the story being told, but I am inclined to agree that it did add something to the experience, as I felt the 3D was used in a way that really immersed you in the world that the director had created.

    I have an issue with the whole thing about the 30% loss of colour though that Dr. Kermode seems to be bothered about, ... is it not possible that any director (especially one who, as a previous poster mentioned, helped to pioneer the technology) would take this into account when making the 2 different versions - so when we watch the version that is being projected in 3D, that is how we are meant to be seeing the colours - and not the 30% brighter ones if we take the 3D glasses off ? Maybe someone else who has seen them both can verify this but would the 2D and 3D versions not be fairly similar in terms of the brightness of the colours ?

    I can't imagine that a director who seems to obsess over the details as much as James Cameron seems to would take this long to make a film, having waited this long for the technology to 'catch up with his vision', as he has so often has been quoted as saying, only for the audiences not to be able to see the film in the colour palette that he intended it to be shown in .. it just strikes me that he would know of the limitations of the technology and have taken this into account when he made the 2 different versions, so that the audience can enjoy his 'vision' in whatever format they choose to...

    I would also like to second that an interview between Mark and James Cameron on the possibilities of 3D, would make for fascinating viewing ..

  • Comment number 49.

    Why are all 3D movies silly kids’ cartoons? Surly, if you want to make the most out of the fact that object can fly out of the screen at you, then an action or horror movie is more appropriate. Car chases would be much more fun if they flew out of the screen at you.

    But don’t worry, there is hope. When me and my friends went to see ice age 3 (yes we did know how cool we were being at the time) as soon as I mentions that 3D was more expensive we all universally decided that 2D was better.

  • Comment number 50.

    I agree with Mark, but only to an extent.
    Cameron was claiming that his film would revolutionize 3d viewing. It didn't. Avatar's 3d is the same as every other 3d I've seen. It's not completely convincing because the depth is more noticable on large distances, less so on small diatances, so characters look like 2d cutouts in a 3d space.
    It doesn't bring a great deal to the experience, but it does bring something worthwhile.
    The cryo sleep scene was great, but I noticed the 3d effect less as the movie progresed. Maybe a good thing as it can be distracting if used innapropriately. ie spears sticking out at you.
    Depth of focus is a real no no in 3d, this I hate.

  • Comment number 51.

    Mark can resist 3D as much as he likes, but it will slowly be used for more and more films. It is just another step in making the pictures that bit better. First we had black & white pictures in a square format, then wider screens, then colour, then even wider screens. With HD available on TVs, people are impressed with the difference. 3D for films has come of age. The earlier version of 3D with coloured glasses (e.g. red/green lenses) were not great, but the newer polarisation glasses seem to have sorted any colour issues, and combined with CG it is impressive. The images make you feel as if you are actually there. For Avatar, it seemed very easy to get absorbed into the created world of the planet Pandora. Yes, you can criticise the film, but I enjoyed it and the 3D made it better.

  • Comment number 52.

    You're right, Vinny, that developments will continue, but that doesn't make any product better. My favourite films are still mostly old B&W.

    I recall seeing something in a musicians' magazine in which a jagged, aliased computer image was put next to the same image blurred. One was labelled Digital and the other Analogue. Neither was a precise representation and that's the lie we've been sold with digital technology.

    Anyway, your ears and eyes adjust to quality very quickly, which is why you can listen to an Ella Fitzgerald record and not balk at the scratches and low-fi quality. You don't even notice. As a sometime 3D animator, I'd forgotten I was watching 3D animation within two minutes of watching Toy Story.

  • Comment number 53.

    The 3D in Avatar seemed to work very well, for me, when there where foreground objects moving about (those flying jellyfish type things I remember worked well) but only within the confines of the screen. Because I could see the edges of the screen the 3D only worked when these objects stayed within that rectangle. Perhaps 3D IMAX would complete the experience...

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm a film-lover and have been for years. Hell, I even have a degree in it. Likewise, I'm a big fan of new technology and will buy almost anything shiny and new. So, you'd think I'd be interested in 3D then? NO!

    As Dr. K says, it adds absolutely nothing to any film and I think, in many ways, detracts from the medium as a serious art form. For instance, I'm the sort of person who gets a real kick from brilliant cinematography; aspect ratios, framing, composition, focus - they all thrill me when done right. 3D simply destroys any enjoyment gained from this. All of a sudden, this beautiful art form is reduced to a flashy, gimmick-driven novelty which, rather than immersing you in the film, does little more than enhance your awareness that what you're watching is artificial.

    You know something's wrong when you go to see the "3D spectacular" that is 'Avatar' and have one eye closed most of the time so you can watch it in unblurred 2D. The funny thing is, even though this was uncomfortable, it at least improved my enjoyment of what is a deeply average film by allowing me to actually see what the DoP was trying to do.

    People keep saying 3D is like the move from silent to sound or B&W to colour but it isn't. 3D simply takes what was already there and distorts it in a very distracting fashion. This is in contrast to something like surround sound which takes something familiar but enhances it in a subtle manner which in no way depreciates the underlying artistic intent. Plus, you don't need to wear something for the effect to work.

    3D, please, for the sake of cinema, GO AWAY!

  • Comment number 55.

    I have been watching this blog for almost a year now and love it, witty and insightful, however never felt the urge to post until today regarding my first 3d experience.
    I saw Avatar in 3d last night and its my first 3d experience. Such a disappointment, I thought it had completely the opposite effect from its intention. Millions of pounds were spent to make the CGI look as real as possible and without the glasses it looks great, when it got thrown into 3D and all I could think was "What a great effect". I am not supposed to think that!!!, what i mean is that it 3d completely distracts from the story and breaks any sense of immersion that i may have had

  • Comment number 56.

    Already commented about this on the Avatar blog but once again I have to ask, why cant Mark see the 3D effect going into the screen. It was soo incredibly real for me I couldn't believe how good the effect was.

    So Mark, please in future, can you not speak in terms of 'we' and 'us' when you say that 3D doesn't work, because clearly this is a personal thing.

    I do feel there is still a case for being able to watch movies in 3D and 2D, for the simple reason that not everyones brain can properly translate the 3D effect, as Marks comments here clearly show (which are in total contrast to my personal experience of the technology).

    However if you think the 3D of today will be another passing fad as it was in the 50's then you are very much mistaken and I look forward to your future blogs in a years time when people are continually lapping up this new immersive experience.

    For me it is just that, a whole new level of immersing into the movie itself. It works, it just doesn't work for everyone.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.