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MindFood: Why 3D and Campy Movies Are Soulmates

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Aug 31, 2011 | 10:53am EDT

ALT

There’s been a lot of talk these days about the downfall of everyone’s favorite, new (but not really) Hollywood trend: 3D. Actually, there’s been a lot of talk about the glasses-enabled experience singing its swan song—but the past few months have been particularly heavy on the 3D hating.

ALTThat may have something to do with the fact that the majority of movie goers are, when given the option, choosing to buy cheaper tickets to a 2D showing of a film than they are a 3D screening. It may have to do with the fact that assumed blockbusters like Kung Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides and Cars 2 all failed to explode the domestic box office (sure, they made boatloads of money, but the industry was expecting ocean liners full of money). With every new 3D film that flounders at the box office (the most recent titles being Conan and Fright Night), someone declares that “blah blah blah” tanking must surely be the last nail in 3D’s coffin.

Well that’s bull.

Yes, the box office non-performance of several of this summer’s safe bets probably will have an effect on what gets greenlit down the line, but it’s not the final nail in 3D’s coffin. I won’t let it be. Not while there are movies like Shark Night 3D on the horizon. That’s right: bad movies will save 3D. I’m calling it right now. (Okay, I instantly regret saying that, but I do think bad movies are making 3D interesting again.)

ALTLooking back at every single 3D release this year, I’m struggling to think of a single film I was excited to see in 3D. Of course there were plenty of 3D films I was excited to see, but if possible I always opted for the glasses-free variant. The only exception to this rule was Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which I went out of my way to see in 3D because I wanted to experience the totality of Michael Bay’s excess. So what’s it say, then, that the first 3D movie of the year I’m genuinely excited about is Shark Night 3D?

Obviously it says a lot about me as a person (nothing will stop me from seeing a movie about a shark in a lake eating pretty teenagers), but I do think this enthusiasm might be a sign of things to come. People are getting 3D fatigue. We are getting tired of paying more for movies that stand in the promise of Avatar’s shadow and don’t really offer much bang for our extra buck. People are no longer falling for it when a filmmaker swears that their 3D isn’t like everyone else’s 3D, that it’s for depth, not for gimmick. We’ve been fed that line too many times for it to still work every single time.

We’re reaching the point where audiences want to do away with the pretense that 3D is this sophisticated technological marvel that’s pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in cinema. Sometimes audiences don’t care about depth. Sometimes we just want to see a shark bite a bikini-clad girl in half like they’re both right there, floating above our heads in the theater. Sometimes we just want our movies to be fun.

Oh, I’ve got no illusions about Shark Night 3D. It may not do gangbusters at the box office and I’m certainly not expecting it to even be a good movie, but at least there’s no posturing with it. As was the case with Piranha 3D last year, the promise of an absurd creature feature becoming all the more absurd because it’s in 3D is just an offer I can’t refuse.

And while I’d watch a movie called Shark Night no matter how many dimensions it had, it’s this bonus gimmick that’s drawing me to what I’m sure will be a sparsely-attended midnight screening of it on Thursday night.

I’m finally going out of my way to see a 3D movie again and that actually excites me.

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