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How to Enjoy a 3D Movie

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Mark Kermode | 13:58 UK time, Friday, 15 January 2010

Contrary to theories based on opinions expressed in this blog and elsewhere it is in fact perfectly possible for me to enjoy 3D movies and I'd like to share the secret with you right now.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I agree with Dr K's general consensus on Avatar and 3D. Avatar was an OK film that was brilliantly designed and, at times, undeniably exciting, but sadly just too predictable and silly to be really any good. And what was up with the dreadlocks that plugged into everything? It was like the entire planet had it's own standardised Nokia phone charger.

    And 3D, while not distracted from the film, doesn't add anything to it either. I never felt immersed in the world because of 3D. I would have felt more immersed in the world if the story was better or if the characters were more interesting. Directors need to take note: plot before 3d!
    Any also, I remember when I came back from the toilet halfway through Avatar, as I was walking up the aisle to my seat, I was looking at all the people in their 3D glasses and lots of them kept on taking them off briefly just to see what the film looked like without the screen. That, to me, doesn't show and audience enthralled by the wonders of 3D. That shows people doing minor experiments to distract themselves from a gimmick that isn't all that brilliant.

  • Comment number 2.

    Or you could just go and see the 2D version, of course.

  • Comment number 3.

    So far Avatar is the best 3d film and certainly the highest grossing-BUT, unless films can better Avatar, which is highy unlikey,can't see a big change in movies.

  • Comment number 4.

    Watch the 2D version? Good idea in theory. Sadly my local cinema only shows 2D versions until about 4pm, in a tiny screen tucked away like a leper. Not great for the working man/woman.

    Bring on the Kermode 2D specials!

  • Comment number 5.

    Kermode is completely correct. I wrote an article about the complete NON-revolution at The Daily Warp.

    3D is as much the future of cinema as roller skates were the future of shoes - and Avatar demonstrates why!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey Markoosmuse. Great article on Avatar you have there. But you've put disturbing thoughts of a 3D version of the Pulp Fiction rape scene in my head down. Damn you!

  • Comment number 7.

    I’m back being agnostic on 3D again. I really liked Avatar – in both 3D and 2D, I’ve now seen both. Other than adding depth of field in some scenes 3D’s not that critical to Avatar.

    Avatar still works as a movie in 2D. Cameron was careful not to have anything blatantly fly out of the screen (without giving too much away, even Neytiri’s last 2 arrows in the final fight are fired outwards to vanish to the side of the screen, not fired directly out towards the audience) so it should still work as a movie experience on a 2D TV screen.

    I’ll probably still like Avatar if I see it as a 2D DVD or on 2D TV in a couple of year’s time. The 3D is not essential to liking it.

    That’s probably where the movie companies have lost the 3D plot.
    How will TV treat 3D movies (and 2 different systems of 3D) when many people haven’t yet upgraded to digital; far less are prepared to spend a small fortune of hi-def-3D screens etc.

    I imagine that a film such as, say, The Final Destination 3D simply can’t work as well on TV; as the trailer makes clear, the whole experience is about ducking things flying out of the screen at you. Watching in 2D simply reminds you of that fact and that otherwise there’s not much else to engage with.

  • Comment number 8.

    There's little point in debating the 3D revolution in my opinion. If the hype allows film companies to wow a complacent audience enough to get out of the house, and allows cinemas to fill the seats which would otherwise be empty, then it's going to happen anyway. Mark's idea is a good one. If you want to go and see a film, and take your friends and family along, but you actively DON'T want to see it in 3D, then Mark's Grumpmeister 4000 glasses are for you. Otherwise you're just going to be with the other saddos on your own watching the 2D version on screen 31. I'm really glad I watched Avatar in 3D just so that I know what people are talking about when they go on about it. It looked fabulous, despite the familiar it-will-all-work-out-fine-as-long-as-we-all-work-together plotline. I look forward to the Blu Ray 2D release so that I can watch it again. I'm not expecting to enjoy it as much on my TV, but I'm sure 2D will be just fine.

  • Comment number 9.

    Don't criticise 3D too publically Mark or the studios will kidnap you for 3D 're-education' at their specialist facilities.

    There they will place you in a strait-jacket and force you to watch continuos 3D treatments of Bride Wars, Marley and Me, and Transformers 2....interspersed with subliminal messages that say 'Michael Bay is really good', and 'a 3D Pirates of the Caribbean will be the best ting ever'.

  • Comment number 10.

    3D is a problem in my opinion, and will suck time from things that genuinely make a good film. Avatar was generally fine, if predictable. If as much time had been spent on the plot and script as the 3D technology it would have been a much better film. Besides, the most impressive visuals in Avatar tended to be the vistas and panoramas of Pandora, where the 3D effect was barely noticeable anyway (take off the glasses during them and you'll see) - the 3D did indeed add very little if anything.

  • Comment number 11.

    That means we have to "steal" two pairs of glasses and modify them?
    Dr k are you endorsing theft?
    Great video,keep them coming!

  • Comment number 12.

    Does that mean that depending which glasses you use you'll see a slightly different angle on the film? A bit to the left or a bit to the right?

    Also was it just me or did anyone else notice that there was some loss of definition on moving objects in the 3D version of Avatar? It seemed to be a different effect to the simple blurring of fast objects, as if the left and right eye pictures separated slightly.

    I did, in a novelty sort of way, enjoy the 3D aspect of Avatar, but the fact that the 3D in itself is noticable seems to demonstrate to me that it doesn't involve you in the movie, it makes you aware of an aspect of the film that wasn't there before and has no relevance to plot or character etc, I think I'm with Dr.K on this one.

    Not to mention the fact that when you get a close up of someone's face in 3D it's a far from absorbing experience, because the 3Dness of it may add depth to the image, but I found myself thinking, 'There's a HUUUUUUGE face floating in front of me! How sureal!' haha, maybe I'm alone on that one...

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the 3D debate is getting very tedious, but I still think that "3D Haters" are just being contrary to a large extent. The way I see it is simple: cave drawings > paintings > photographs > moving images > sound > colour... and now we have DEPTH. What's to hate?

  • Comment number 14.

    If we go down the route of all films being in 3d does this mean that people with only sight in one eye will see it at half price?

  • Comment number 15.

    YEAH I'M WITH KERMODE! 2-D fightback! it's time to teach Cameron a lesson! :D

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't get what the big problem is.

    At the end of the day, we know all that 3D films will not become common place because there will not be cause for a lot of them to be. Ken Loach goes 3D? its not going to happen is it.

    With films like Avatar it creates a more immersive experience, we can see depth to the clever computer graphic stuff.

    We all know Kermode is a traditionalist when it comes to cinema. Fair enough. But this rant is a bit weak, the only disadvantage to 3D is the 30% colour loss so essentially he's watching a 2D film that looks all dark and that. It's a bit like one of your parents buying a mobile phone but leaving it at home all the time. POINTLESS.

  • Comment number 17.

    3D is an old thing, I remember when I was a small kid and watched some 3D thing on TV in the early 80's. Sure it was cool and was fun when there was snakes and monsters jumping at you but otherwise, Im not sure.

    Then I grew older and got glasses in my teens and the 3D was long gone now it comes back and I remember how un-fun it was back in the days when the paper 3D glasses didnt work since I already had a pair of glasses on. Im pretty dang sure that the big movie companies have added this 3D option to try and make some more money AND they also think that this is the way the internet pirates will stop release their work before it's out on blu-ray and DVD.. Well, it's a "fail" as it's known as on the internets. Why not come to terms with how it works, some people like me WANT to be able to download a high-def version of a movie and I'd be glad to pay the price of what a regular bluray release costs BUT let me do it on my terms.

    It aint harder than that, the music industry have come to terms and realised that planting stuff on the discs doesnt work, there's always a way to get around protections and there will always be people being willing to spend time to work their way around the protection.

    AND another thing, I wear glasses, how the heck do the 3D glasses work for me, or am I going to wear a Nasa helmet with some special gear on it ?

    Stop with this 3D thing and release good and watchable movies, a bad movie in 3D must end up pretty horrific ?

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh and I must admit one thing though, its a bit harsh to have to pay extra each time you go to the cinema for the privilege of 3D glasses, should just have to pay for them once.

  • Comment number 19.

    With the hands wafting again. They're pointy pointy and huuuuge even without immersive 3D on my little computer screen.

  • Comment number 20.

    I am still yet to see Avatar in 3-D but I must admit that when Step Up 3-D is another film to jump onto the three dimensional bandwagon, this states cause for concern. Films should only be granted the 'privilege', if you can call it that, of an immersive film experience if something special is lurking. The threequel to two predecessors which featured Channing Tatum is not one of them.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to admit really liking 3D, although it does come with some issues. The most impressive 3D for me is the type with things pointing at you and flying in your faceand making you duck. The first Real-D 3D movie I saw was Beowulf and the 3D was amazing and still the best I've seen! The movie itself is silly and not that great but lots of fun. For me the 3D made that movie really enjoyable but I can imagine I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much in 2D.

    I watched the My Bloody Valentine remake in 2D and it annoyed me that things kept being pointed at me and flying at me. If it had been in 3D I would have enjoyed that about it.

    So regarding the 3D in Avatar; it wasn't the best 3D I've seen by quite some way, but it was the most immersive and it will translate to 2D just fine. Really loved the movie by the way; despite the script being a little dumbed down, I thought it was something rather extraordinary and I fully admit wanting to go and live with the blue people. That's immersion for you, but I would only place a small amount of credit for that on the 3D.

    I conclude that not all movies need to be 3D, but for some it works. When it works, however, there are 2 ways to go with it: make full use of impressing people in cinemas by throwing things at them, but have it looking stupid in 2D, or allow it to transfer perfectly well into 2D like James Cameron has done with Avatar. I think both are perfectly fine but perhaps pointy in your face 3D should be kept to fun novelty movies like My Bloody Valentine 3D, Pirahna 3D, The Final Destination or Beowulf. I think such 3D would cheapen a lot of movies.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ok Mark, I agree with you on the subject, but this 3D-bashing is getting old now, give it a rest! In fact, if anything you are making me more curious to go and see a film in 3D just to see what all the fuss isn't about.

  • Comment number 23.

    This is why I became a fan of Mark Kermode. That is just so delightfully contrarian, it's absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to try it myself. I have a question for you though. Recently I heard George Lucas on the Radio promoting his book about the three hundred great blockbusters of history. He said that while movies will continue to be made in the future, because we need some kind of communal experience, that small movies such as his American Graffiti will no longer be viable in theatrical releases and will go straight to Pay-Per-View internet sites or DVD. According to him it is a brave new world of blockbuster-only movies we have to look forward to at the cineplexes! Do you think this is true? And if it is, how will you critics keep from blowing your brains out? Imagine--every movie a 2012! And P.S. What is this new book you're putting out?

  • Comment number 24.

    yeah..what's with the book?

  • Comment number 25.

    Saying this 3D thing is getting old is getting old.

    Grasp the point. Will Ken Loach be making 3D movies? No. Will anything he makes be released on a big screen then? No. It's 3D or no Denari from here on in. They won't all be pointy pointy, but they will be in 3D as you'll only be able to see that in the cinema.

    Which ties in to Joes post above. It'll be big releases in the cinema, other films online.

    Of course it all goes to pot when the new 3D TV's which don't need glasses are wheeled out, but we all have to have bought HD TV's first and the film industry is only worried about the now.

  • Comment number 26.

    Enough of this silly "fight 3D"! 3D is here to stay! I'm sorry Mark, but you're really sound like an old dinosaur when you go on about how much you hate 3D, how little it adds to the cinema experience, how much is the color loss and so on.
    3D is here to stay, so you'd better get used to it.
    It is a natural organic change, in the same way we went form mute film to talkies. There are perfectly fine mute films, but nobody can deny that dialogue, sound effects and music have added an extra dimension to movies. Or are we supposed to wear special headphones to avoid listening to the soundtrack becase we claim we are "purists"
    And how about the advent of color? Should we have gone around saying "from now onwards I'll wear special glasses and see color films in black and white?" It's really the same principle. Movies are evolving whether you like it or not.
    Sooner or later 3D will become even better than it is now. There might now be any color loss, and we might now even wear glasses.
    Moreover, new directors will find new and exciting ways to use 3D that's not just "pointy pointy" as you say. Actually I thought Cameron used it really well, making the audience feel even more immerse in Pandora. Pixar's Up, subtilely used 3D to bring the characters closer to us in the most emotional scenes, without drawing attention to the new technology itself. Talking about "UP", that one too is a perfect example how we should all embraced technology. Not many years ago some people were horrified when they heard that animated films were all going to be made with computers and not with "real drawings"... Oh my God, somebody screamed, they're all going to be so cold, and sterile...
    Well, once again they have been proved wrong.
    3D will get better and better, more and more seamless.
    It's the new natural progression in movies.
    Of course, we all agree, if the story sucks, no 3D can help it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yeah! Right on! And what's this stereo nonsense? I stick a finger in my left ear for the entire movie and hear everything in mono! That'll teach 'em! And whenever I go to a film in widescreen I hold my (tiny) hands up in front of me to block either side of the image! Who wants a film 2.35 times as long as it is high anyway? If four by three was good enough for DW Griffith then it's good enough for me!

  • Comment number 28.

    Enough with this natural progression nonsense - 3D is not actually that new. It's been a theme park attraction since the 80s for goodness sake, but it's been leapt on as a way make it necessary to go to the cinema. If it was a natural progression then it would be more widespread even now, hence the reason that 3D TVs aren't going to catch on in my opinion ( There's nothing wrong with it as such, but forget about writer/directors concentrating on the script of performances in favour making sure they're utilising the 3D. Low budget films won't use this and will suffer distribution problems as a result. It's happening already. Despite having an arts cinema in town I can't see "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" as none of the local multiplexes are showing it. The closest is 50-odd miles away and I don't have a car.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Dr K

    Whenever I see images of audiences in packed cinemas watching 3D films and wearing those glasses, they look like they've been plugged into the machine and are being brainwashed into thinking this is great cinema.

    Sadly it seems that it's easier to create 3D characters using CGI than it is using words in a script.

    But keep up the fight, Dr K.


  • Comment number 30. echobase very well said,if the story is no good,then no 3D can help the movie.

    It's not the 3D that makes a movie good,but if the movie is really good,and it can be seen in 3D,then 3D can elevate the experience.

    Is it possible to watch the wrestler in 3D? ..since the answer is no,the narrative cinema has nothing to be afraid of.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree that 3D does not make a movie and it certainly can spoil a film but in IMAX 3D works quite I suggest this, instead of us being shown 3D films in regular cinemas, why don't they just leave 3D to the IMAX where it actually works pretty well, i'm not saying it is needed but it does work better. So 2D for regular cinema and 3D for IMAX, simple.

    And well done to AVATAR for showing the world how poor 3D is at a regular cinema.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've got a way of solving the 30% colour loss! See it in 2D, with this you have the added value of not looking like a fool in the cinema

  • Comment number 33.

    I think the reason it's important to try and "resist" 3D in this way is that there is the very real danger that the major studios will push this agenda more and more, and therefore the distributors and cinemas will be full of very little other than 3D movies. No real worry if you enjoy them (and having not seen a 3D movie, I'm not going to comment on whether they're good or not, but all I would say is I'm sure they have their place). However, if this were to happen, our cinemas would be devoid of the smaller, independent, or obscure films - Ken Loach, Lynch, the Coens etc etc, all the people who regularly appear in mainstream cinemas, but who realistically are never going to make a Stupid Budget 3D Blockbuster. And if they can't get distributed, they will struggle for funding, won't be able to make films, and pretty soon the aforementioned world view of George "Satan Himself" Lucas, will become a reality. And that will be an absolute tragedy.

    So, it's not really about "3D sucks" - it's about the future of film really. Daft 3D movies will be a part of that, but it can't become the whole.

  • Comment number 34.

    A lot of people seems to be comparing 3D to the advent of sound, colour, stereo, etc. The comparison isn't really accurate. Those three things were revolutionary for film because they enabled a greater range of expression within the medium. You could do things with them that were impossible to do without them, and they can add a great deal to the meaning of a film. 3D however, can do nothing artistically that can't be done in 2D, because it's all about things being nearer or further away, which is already clear in 2D. In fact, sometime 2D enables you to do things that couldn't be done in 3D because they rely on tricking the eye (see Labyrinth for example). That's the simple reason that 3D is a gimmick that won't last, it doesn't further film as a medium of expression.

  • Comment number 35.

    Dear Dr. K,

    I think you have to be realistic about this:

    3D will not replace 2D so we don't have to wage a war against it! It's simply an alternate experience that certainly has a place in the cinema.

    What you may have noticed is that Avatar was also projected in 2D for those who see eye-to-eye with you.

    To quote a movie that I know you like: "Can't stop what's coming! Ain't no waiting on you... that's vanity!"

    So why not put those pointless glasses you made in the bin where they belong and just opt for a 2D ticket the next time you go and see a blockbuster?

  • Comment number 36.

    A question for the good Doctor, was the sentence which made you laugh at the BBFC report on OSS 117 - RIO NE REPOND PLUS involving the beach?

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear Mark

    Can you please say a few words about "TOKYO STORY", which is currently on release once more. The original, as you know, was made in 1965 and, if there's an advert for a brilliant 2D film, this is it.

    Also, I detect the influence of the genius Bunuel in "Antichrist". What thinkest thou?

  • Comment number 38.

    Can somebody clear something up for me please? Saw avatar last night, ans something was annoying me, the depth of field was rubbish. when two people were talking, only one person would be in focus at a time, the background would be blurred, and occaisionally objects right in the foreground, and because it's 3d, were extrememly noticeable. Worse was when two people were talking, the camera would focus to one, then focus on the next, then focus back to the first.

    Is this what I suspect, and a limitation of 3D optical cameras (the cgi bits seemed fine enough) or was it some awful artistic choice, or was it some decision to make the viewer concentrate on what they're supposed to be concentrating on?

    If it's the first or the latter, I won't be bothering with 3d again.

  • Comment number 39.

    Not tried this but I have been to the bbfc site to look at OSS 117: Lost in Rio, and I didn't laugh once. I laughed twice.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ha ha, Simon was able to make a pair for your wife.

    Very nice.

    By the way, thanks for pointing out the wonders of a bottom scene described by the BBFC.

  • Comment number 41.

    John Lee Langford - Not Kermode, he can't choose his screenings, he's national press.

  • Comment number 42.

    While on the topic of Avatar, I'm curious as to what Mark thinks of statements made by Cameron regarding the technology used for creating the Na’vis, where he said that, although "There’s no way to scan what’s underneath the surface to what the actor is feeling", the technology could be used to make "another Dirty Harry movie where Clint looks the way he looked in 1975. Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Doctor No? How cool would that be?"

    He also commented on the possibility of an actor/actress's likeness being used after they're dead: "If Tom Cruise left instructions for his estate that it was okay to use his likeness in Mission Impossible movies for the next 500 years, I would say that would be fine. You could put Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in a movie together, but it wouldn’t be them. You’d have to have somebody play them. And that’s where I think you cross an ethical boundary."

    Come to think of it, we could have the Good Doctor's quiffed visage giving reviews for the next 500 years, but (to paraphrase Spaceballs) do we really want the possibility of Sylvester Stalone's face appearing in Rocky 5 ... Thousand?

  • Comment number 43.

    Highly recommend this article (linked below) which essentially explains why 3-d will always hurt your eyes regardless of how good the technology gets (short of Princess Leia in true holography):

    The Problem With 3-D It hurts your eyes. Always has, always

    Additionally it points out that a certain percent of the population have some degree of stereo-blindness and so cannot "benefit" from 3-d.

    Another way to win the argument on 3-d is to remind people of the great fiasco of colourization back in the 1980's when it was suggested that the classics made in black and white would be improved or even made accessible to modern audiences by being dyed in the lab. Ask people to suggest any film classic that might be improved if today's technology could be used to 3-deify it?

    Gimmicks, pure and simple, we need William Castle back now, let's put Cameron in one of those electrified seats for a true immersive experience.

  • Comment number 44.

    Interesting article Brian.

    I haven't seen any of the new wave of 3D films in the cinema but I image the fact that you need to keep your head upright, this might be a slight hassle.

    I watched the red/green 3D version of Coraline on DVD and while I enjoyed the film and there were plenty of good 3D moments I found they took me out of the film; when watching a film it is not good to be thinking "that was a good 3D moment" when one should be caught up in the story. The DVD came with both 3D and 2D versions, I'm sure I'll watch it in 2D more often. I certainly wouldn't buy and DVD which was 3D only.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm going to re-release all of my films in 3-D. Thanks, Mr. Cameron.

  • Comment number 46.

    completely off topic:

    previous topic discussed was films that are better or have different effect after a second viewing. One i recently discovered was Inglorious Basterds.

  • Comment number 47.

    43 - Brian New Forest:

    The colourisation argument doesn't work. No-one's talking about 3D-ing older movies (except George Lucas), but we are talking about new ones. Colourisation was a bad idea, but colour in itself isn't. In the same way 3D isn't intrinsically a bad thing, but going back and layering Casablanca (or The Exorcist) with some kind of computer-generated depth is.

    And my eyes haven't hurt yet from 3D movies. I dare say they would if all movies were in 3D and I watched three or four a day, but they're not and I don't. Everything in moderation.

  • Comment number 48.

    The whole 3D thing is just one big con, to me - it's not sad at all, but very sensible to save the extra money towards your next cinema trip or something else, especially in this recession we're in (no wonder Avatar made so much money - look how expensive the 3D tickets are!). I'll be watching the 2D version of any 3D film from now on.

    Watching 3D, to me it's like a holograph in front of you in different positions to give the illusion of depth but I don't need that in films - for a theme park ride, fine but for a film? It just distracts from lack of characterisation and story, really. It doesn't 'truly immerse' me in the film at all - quite the opposite, actually.

    Just cause I can reach out and seem like I'm touching something does not a good film make. It just isn't essential to the story, in my mind and I'd still enjoy Pandora in 2D.

  • Comment number 49.

    Dear Mr. Kermode,

    You've said that 3D isn't more immersive than 2D, but how can you hold that against it? I can deal with 3D seeming unnecessary to you, but I can hardly imagine it damaging the experience in any way. Unless you are reminded too much of the old days of 3D when it actually was a gimmick. Maybe you just need some getting used to.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mark Kermode's Film Reviews are classic!

  • Comment number 51.

    I actually went to see avatar for the first time intentionally in 2D.
    I didn't want the 3D to distract me from the movie itself,and as the doc says,it is equally impressive.I don't think that specifically avatar gains from the 3D because it is already a good movie.That's what i realized the second time i watched it in 3D.
    Now other movies probably will profit from it such as a christmas carol or final destination.They both suffer in any section,so they might as well win some money by making people wear the glasses.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wait wait wait WAIT!.... Forget about 3D for a second: Avatar won best movie (drama) at the Golden Globes?

    Oh no...

  • Comment number 53.

    well yes...i suppose you think hurt locker or Inglourious Basterds is better...but its not.

  • Comment number 54.

    3D might well be the future of Hollywood blockbusters, but THE future of cinema? Not an American's chance in Pandora.

    I can see how film franchises like Transformers or Terminator might be able to make use the technology (I'm sure Michael Bay could find all kinds of things to drape a 3D Megan Fox over for a start) but what about all the other film genres?

    I mean, unless every single romantic comedy can manage to squeeze in scenes of characters firing arrows at each other or protagonists jumping off cliffs, how is 3D ever going to add anything meaningful to the viewing experience?

  • Comment number 55.

    3D was a Fad in the 1950s that burnt out fast. A few years ago the big thing was IMAX. What happen to that? I seem to remember Christopher Nolan saying that he thought that IMAX was going to be the next big thing in movies. Just it was a few years ago with IMAX I think 3D will come and go.

  • Comment number 56.

    54 - The fact that a blando romcom can't be meaningfully enhanced by being in 3D doesn't mean it can't enhance other movies. The fact that a blando romcom doesn't need exploding helicopters doesn't mean that exploding helicopters are a bad thing in general. Not every movie needs or has any use for 3D. But not every movie has a need for a digital surround soundtrack or a 2.35 aspect ratio either.

    55 - The problem with IMAX is an architectural one: it needs vast new cinemas purpose-built. There are only a dozen IMAX screens in the UK, and the cost of providing enough screens to give it any chance of being the Next Big Thing is exhorbitant and would be unlikely to be met even in times less belt-tightening than the present. Conversely, it's a lot cheaper to instal a 3D projector and special screen.

    My nearest IMAX screen is more than 50 miles away in London, and with tubes and walking would take two hours to get there. My nearest 3D screen is a lot less than half that distance, time and ticket price.

  • Comment number 57.

    What you forget to realise is that even way back in the 50s, 3D was mainly used for sci fi or horror films, then back in the 80s when 3D was revived it was still mainly used for sci fi and horror films, with the odd low budget itallian action films thrown in (Treasure of the four crowns, Comin At Ya).

    Even though animation has jumped on the 3D bandwagon, they're still in the sci fi or fantasy genre, and for adults the only films being released in 3D are sci fi and horror films.

    So even though it's s gimmick, it's a gimmick that is only used for a very limited genre.

    Besides, it looks like there's no escape from 3D, as there is a whole host of 3D technology coming out for the home, such as Sky 3D, 3D Blu Ray, 3D projectors, 3D camcorders, 3D games, and the 3D glasses look even worse than the 3D sunglasses you get at the cinema.

    Face it Mark, your views are no longer hip in the 20tens.

  • Comment number 58.

    You look and sound suspiciously like Michael Paine from the Fast Show there, Mark ;)

  • Comment number 59.

    Avatar is another example of hollywood saying..ooooooo look what we can do now, arnt we clever....well try writing a clever script for a change. The only industry that may benefit form this breakthrough work would be the porno industry...well done hollywood, you must be very proud.

  • Comment number 60.

    I had my first ever 3D experience at the weekend when watching the DVD of Coraline. Although it was an interesting experience, there were only a couple of scenes where the third dimension benefited the visual experience. I may go and see Avatar in 3D just in order to to say I've done it, but, frankly, I'm with the doctor on this one.

    3-D is just a fad and the novelty of it will have wained by the end of the decade.

    Although, the question does have to be asked, why the cinema audience behind the doctor are all wearing 3D glasses on the front of his new book that I got this week? It's probably a reference to 50's 3-D, rather than the modern nonsense, eh Mark?

  • Comment number 61.

    It must be a different Dr Mark Kermode whose review of Meet The Robinsons included the following exchange:

    GOOD DOCTOR: Need to see it in 3D because it's not much good in 2D.

    MAYO: What does that add if it's in 3D?

    GOOD DOCTOR IN MOST PATRONISING TONE: Well, it adds three dimensions Simon.

    AUDIBLY ASTONISHED MAYO: But how do you enjoy it more if something pops out at you?

    GOOD DOCTOR IN VOICE OF EXASPERATED FATHER REPEATEDLY BEING ASKED BY A FIVE-YEAR-OLD ABOUT WHERE BABIES COME FROM AND IS WANTING TO GET BACK TO HIS COPY OF FANGORIA: Because you sit there and you go, 'well, there's not a lot happening, but at least it's happening in three dimensions and they've done it quite well.'

    So every time Mark says words along the lines of "you don't need 3D, every film is fine in 2D", I demand that it is followed with the phrase: "Asterisk: Except for Meet The Robinsons."

  • Comment number 62.

    Unfortunately this anti 3D crusade has a very luddite feel. 3D doesn't make films worse. It is just another took in the box for film makers. Before Avitar I couldn't really think of a film that is improved by 3D but I genuinely feel that the 3D helped make the animated characters come much more to life. In 2D the film just reminded me of Final fantasy: The Spirit Within, which I enjoy (oddly enough) but doesn't look in the slightest realistic.

    I don't think it should be done in all films or even most but I think that there is a place for 3D in cinema. Now if only they could make the glasses more comfitable.

  • Comment number 63.

    Mark, without wishing to rain on your parade, why not just go see it in 2D? Cheaper, and no colour reduction. Simple...

  • Comment number 64.

    I like 3d Movies. Is it really bad for the eyes? In 4-5 months we can see 3d tv.

  • Comment number 65.

    Recently had the opportunity to see the last half hour of Avatar in 3 then 2 D (thank you staggered multiplex viewing times). I hadn't been that bothered by the touted colour loss until I saw the difference. The 2D looked much brighter and more vibrant. I'm surprised that given Cameron's famous perfectionism that he would allow the 3D version out without having resolved this problem.

    Also, I'd like to repost in text the link to a good article from about how 3D messes with your natural way of seeing the real 3d world:

    I'm only doing this because somehow the BBC have corrupted/broken my previous link.

    Whilst the anti-3D rants may have a luddite tang to them, I think this is offset by it still being at heart a gimmick rather than a tool. It's only purpose is possibly to add to cinema as spectacle rather than cinema as storytelling. Also the fact that it's currently being driven more as a way to part us from more of our cash, than as an artistic choice. We should revisit this if the Coen bros, or Lars Von Trier, or Werner Herzog find it a useful part of their palette. Me, I'm waiting for Woody Allen's "Neurotic Jew in 3D" (insert your own nose joke here).

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm sorry, I didn't catch word of this. I was mesmerised by those two gargantuan flapping hands coming straight out of the screen!

    Better than any stereoscopic 3D effect.

  • Comment number 67.


    Like BluRay, 3D is a whopping big con being perpetrated on the gullible public, and judging by some of the comments here, they have once again swallowed it. Dear oh dear. I feel your pain, Mark.

  • Comment number 68.

    Do the 3D fans prefer pop-up books as well?

    Technical quality is a deceptive mistress. Blur an image and you have analogue. Pixellate it and you have digital. Neither is a true representation. It depends how you like your art's artefacts.

    When you turn the treble up on your stereo the music sounds a little brighter. Eventually, though, your ear will adjust and it'll be normal. Brighten it again and you'll get used to it again. Return it to where it originally was and it'll sound dull, until your ears adjust again. This quirk in our sensory intake allows us to enjoy a scratchy Aretha Franklin record from 1967 just as much as a modern Girls Aloud CD with interactive video.

  • Comment number 69.

    Hi all

    There are a number of factors that go into enjoying a 3D film.

    If you are fan of 3D movies we suggest you check out Totally3D for loads of 3D news.

    Totally3D team

  • Comment number 70.

    And so Mark continues to be smug in the knowledge that everyone is exactly like him and that 3D doesn't really work.

    Except for the fact that for many of us we get an incredible sense of depth and perspective that , when closing one eye suddenly goes flat.

    Mark you're soo very very wrong about 3D and to let this technology die would be a backwards step for cinema. If I wasn't soo gobsmacked by how good todays 3D technology is I wouldn't be saying this. And no, I don't work for RealD or any other company involved with 3D technology. I'm just a simple man who went to the cinema, saw Avatar and was utterly blown away by how incredible real the 3D effect is, for everything.

    Viva la 3D

  • Comment number 71.

    Just to add to that, for those complaining about poor brightness or eye strain, make sure you visit a cinema thats RealD XLS (one that has a Sony 4K projector). This projects both left and right images simultaneously (instead of flashing 144 times a second), thus greatly increasing luminance. The picture on those Sony 4K's with 3D is incredible

  • Comment number 72.

    Dear Dr K.

    After having seen Avarar (in 2D) I think it was way to colorful AND now after having seen your videopost again it maked me wonder if the 2D version of Avatar was so over the top filled with colors just so that it would look normaly colorful in the 3D version ?

    I hope I get some kind of reply..

  • Comment number 73.

    Finally saw Avatar in 3D at my Imax at the weekend.

    This is the second 3D film I have seen, the other being the retro-fitted Alice in Wonderland.

    The 3D in Alice I found made it the the most "unreal" film going experience I have ever had - having a foreground and background heavily blurred so the middle ground is the point of focus makes sense with a 2D image, but in 3D it merely emphasises the unreality, because in real life we can change point our focus.

    Oh, and the headache I got! (I am a spectacle wearer, so may be this does not help).

    I had wondered if my problem with 3D was the retro-fitting applied to Alice. However, my Avatar viewing suggests not. I had the same "unreal" fixed point of focus issue but I also had real problems with movement - has anyone else struggled with the movement of characters, finding sometimes things move with a sort of juddering, staccato effect? I qualify the staccato comment by noting that pure CGI movement seemed ok, it was the movement of real objects, principally the actors, which seemed to be very juddery at times - I tested things by removing the glasses for a while and the movement became smooth.

    Both my partner and her 10 year old daughter had the same impression of this juddery movement. We were sitting just off centre at two thirds of the way up the cinema, so seating was near ideal.

    Nothing so far encourages me to see another film in 3D.

  • Comment number 74.

    I've created a 3D image of you Mark, so you to can be in 3D!!!
    Just put on your old Red & blue glasses and enjoy!

  • Comment number 75.

    Mark - You will no doubt enjoy this article by Robert Ebert in Newsweek entitled "Why I hate 3D and so should you".
    He hits almost every point you make about why it's awful.
    Personally, I saw Avatar in 3D at Imax which was incredible, but every 3D movie I've seen at our local cinema has looked like it does when Harry Potter is looking through his cloak of invisibility.

  • Comment number 76.

    I saw Avatar in my own home on DVD (2-D) this weekend and thought that I was in some sense watching nothing more than a glorified cartoon. I'll admit that it's very well done and sepctacular even, but it left me a little cold. instead of thinking 'what a great film' I just found myself thining 'isn't it clever what they can do nowadays' in so far as the plot etc played second fiddle to the SFXs. Perhaps CGI is just that little bit too clinical for my tastes.

  • Comment number 77.

    How to enjoy a 3d movie? Dont go and see it.

  • Comment number 78.

    I am still going with the 2d. It is more brighter and clear

  • Comment number 79.

    I'd very much like to know if the good doctor has seen Toy Story 3 yet.

    You see, as we all know, Pixar typically run a short prior to their feature length releases.

    Accompanying Toy Story 3 is Day & Night. Though it could have been done in two dimensions, that would have failed to articulate the effect it's clearly constructed to showcase. A delightful routine in which two rather blobby chaps with see-through bodies interact in various ways, all the while the background landscapes (one day, one night), as seen through them, reflecting their moods and thoughts.

    What was so sad about this is that, right in the middle of the film, they stick a didactic voiceover warning critics to stop aggitating against 3D, and suggesting they are simply reactionaries afraid of 'the new'.

    Sitting at a press screening of Toy Story 3 in Edinburgh, presumably amongst many people who thought 3D was a bit of a joke (and who would be vindicated while watching TS3 in 3D, which makes absolutely no use of the technology whatsoever), I couldn't help feeling like we were being insulted by Lee Unkrich.

  • Comment number 80.

    Part of my postgraduate research required me find out the incidence of poor or absent binocular stereo vision in the general population. The figures published in the literature varied somewhat due to differing experimental methods, but the consensus was that between 4 and 8 percent of otherwise visually normal adults have no or very little ability to obtain 3D information from fused left- and right-eye images, and an additional 10 to 15 percent have substantially impaired fusion ability.

    Many such people manage perfectly well in ordinary life despite this, and indeed they are often unaware of their visual deficit until they try to watch a 3D film or fail to see a "Magic Eye" 3D picture, as there are other methods (head movement, moving-object parallax and so on) which they (and normally-sighted people) use to gather 3D information about the world. Unfortunately, such methods are of no avail when attempting to view 3D television or films.

    Viewing 3D films also seems to exacerbate the nausea and disorientation that many people experience when watching rapid movements that fill large proportions of their visual field, such as at IMAX cinemas or when viewing videos or playing video games on large nearby monitors. These effects have been well studied by designers of commercial flight simulators and immersive (headgear-based) virtual reality systems.

    This is not to deny that many people will enjoy watching 3D films or television programmes with little or no ill effects, but it should be remembered that a significant number of people will be either unable to see them at all or will find that the side-effects outweigh their pleasure.

  • Comment number 81.

    3-D is an itermediate step in an unstoppable direction for flat screen. Inevitably we're going to have some sort of holographic cinema experience where the action (in the manner of a rainbow) is relative to where the individual sits.

    Right now though, I'll do without. What is good though, is the next generation of cinema attendees (....and potential film makers?...) are being inspired by the experience.

    Other than 3-D - and apologies for going off topic, I find the main nuisance to be the daft cinema prices to be prohibitive. I've got three kids and a visit to the cinema is well over £30.

    I'll save and wait for that holographic experience thank you.

  • Comment number 82.

    Someone said earlier "Whats to hate" about 3d?.

    Paying a tenner to see Shrek 4 (not that I did).

  • Comment number 83.

    Following on from what #80 - Grey Animal has said, apparently not enjoying 3D fioms may be OUR OWN FAULT...

    Surely this is just some guff put out by the studios to excuse themselves from making unnecessarily gimmicky films full of visual (ahem) trickery rather than focusing on old-skool stuff like Characters, Plot, Emotional Engagement, Suspense and the like.

    Don't try and fob off my disappointment with Alice in Wonderland, Monsters vs Aliens (et al ad nauseam) as a physical condition!!

    (NB: I don't mean to deride Grey Animal's research. At all.)

  • Comment number 84.

    Just seen this...

    No more 3D? Fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ah, this gizmodo article is very interesting. When you have a look on Google Trends, you see the same trend for . But let us observe the christmas season and we will know more than before.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 86.

    3d adds nothing to films,it is hyped up and provided simply as a ploy to charge more for cinema tickets and as a gimmick to entice people who might not want to see the film, but who want to see and try out 3d cinema. the only half decent 3d film i have seen was monsters and aliens, all the rest have been absolutely the same in 2d or 3d.alice in wonderland in 3d was not in 3d, nor avatar.the trailers before hand and the sky advert before the films are in better 3d in the films!each time i have tried out a 3d film i leave wondering why i spent almost double the cost for the ticket.unfortunately, 3d films are were everyone goes now, and so people like me have to go to those showings to get the cinema atmosphere of a busy screen.the effects are exaggerated and tickets are overpriced, but somehow i think 3d films will continue to be made and shown.

  • Comment number 87.

    I actually made myself several pairs of 2d/3d glasses before I went in to see Avatar (when it first came out), just in case i found the 3D effect annoying or nauseating. Actually I was able to sit through the movie without any discomfort.

    I have to say my opinion is almost the opposite of Mr Kermodes. The only thing about Avatar I liked was the 3D effect. Had it been in 2D i would not only never have gone to see it in the first place (since i expected it to be silly), but would have walked out half way through it due to extreme boredom.

    The movie has a almost no plot - you could tell after the first 5 minutes exactly how the story would play out. Almost everything in the movie was childish, far fetched and implausible. The graphics were very good but staring at pretty graphics gets old real quick.

    Frankly, with most of the movies coming out of Hollywood these days being so vacuous and mindless, 3D is about the only thing left of modern movies that is remotely appealing.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm not sure I understand your pain. I am a contact lense wearer so can appreciate that eye strain is going to be more with these than it perhaps would be wearing real glasses. Not a lot. But a little. Especially over two hours or so. It gets a little tiring.

    Perhaps you could get the people at Real D to make you pair of prescription 3D glasses as you critique their films. If I was you. That is what I would do. I doubt they'd be cheap though.

    Did you know the same effect can be achieved with still stereoscopic images by crossing your eyes. This too is painful and inadvisable for too long.

  • Comment number 89.

    Thanks Mark, now I can go and see Tron in 2D, even at the IMAX


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