I rarely go to 3D movies. Call it age or whatever but they just don’t really do it for me. So this week when booking into one of the last local showings of Oz: The Great and Powerful, 3D was the only option. Ok, I thought. Should be great for a film like that. Glasses a gogo and off we went.
First off: the trailers. They did my head in. My conclusion: 3D animation filmed in 3D is way too much! Ok so the extra dimension does make things look more accessible, the cinema somehow becomes a more interactive experience, but the thought of sitting through 90 minutes or more of that is way more than I could cope with.
All those weird semi-transparent elements that appear to drift towards you from the screen are just annoying, and 3D animated characters in all their grotesque detail are just too hideous when they look like they are right in front of you and could reach out and touch you. I dread to think what kind of effect prolonged periods of that would have on the mind.
So onto the actual film itself. I’m putting the rather-weak-in-places story aside and ignoring the fact that a Disney Oz without the ruby slippers (rights to The Wizard of Oz MGM film now owned by Warner Bros.) yet with a giant wizard’s head projected among smoke and fire that funnily enough looks very much like the MGM film (rights now owned by Warner Bros.!) is just wrong. So with those aside and ignoring the fact that a lot of it felt a little lazy and rather too much into sensation rather than delivering a great product, the 3D experience of it did not fare a whole lot better than the trailers.
The trouble is, and I think I’ve managed to pin it to this detail, that while all those semi-transparent things like flecks of fire and flower blossoms are floating around ‘in front’ of the screen, the beautiful animations, costume design, special effects and staging that are happening ‘on’ the screen are not getting the full attention they deserve.
When you’re trying to take in, for example, the scale of the Wicked Witch’s army and the clever detailing on the creatures' faces and wings, it is hard to concentrate on that when every 10 seconds part of the action is staged just to give the opportunity for someone to throw a spear in your direction or flick a branch into your face.
The only way I can see it is that everything in a 3D movie is designed to take your focus off the plot, character interactions and the original magic of the cinema. Why would we ever want to leave those things out of the experience of going to the movies? Why would anyone want to sit through two hours of opaque imagery and unnatural movements resulting in semi-concentration and a rather flaky experience?
I do believe this is one of the ‘new’ technologies (of course 3D film is not a new development but it has come back in a new way over the last few years) that has been taken too far in its application. Back in the red and green glasses days they had it right. 3D was for the sensation – movement, interaction, shock and awe – and not for storytelling.