Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Column #13: 3-D movies are less than impressive

I have not seen Avatar yet.

I probably won’t see it. How is it possible that someone who loves movies could not have seen the legendarily most popular movie ever made? Surely it must be great, or at least necessary to have been seen in order for me to leave the house and fully engage with other humans, yes?

No. I think I will be alright. It took me eight months to see Titanic, then showing in a rundown discount theater where the tickets were only $2. Honestly, I was more interested in Kate Winslet’s nude scene than any potentially incisive writing or souful acting. Even that was when she was getting naked in movies annually – I had already seen her talents on display, so there was no Julie Andrews-in-S.O.B. thrill promised within.

I haven’t seen Avatar yet because I feel secure guessing that the good guys will win, and that the guy will get the girl in the end. If the blue guy played by that Australian guy that I’ve never heard of (and don’t remember inviting to be my next movie star) doesn’t get her this time, then I’m sure he will by the end of the second squeakuel.

Many of the most interesting movies have sad, or at least complicated, endings, from Casablanca and Citizen Kane to The Graduate and The Godfather, through the recent Spider-Man, and, inevitably, even Titanic. Does Avatar?

The recent tsunami of hype about this new discovery of 3-D filmmaking technology is stunning to me. At 35, I am old enough to have seen a couple of generations of movie evolution, from the highs of classic John Hughes to the lows of anything Kevin Smith, from the peaks of the two Coreys to the depressing rise of the Twilight twinks.

I feel blessed to have grown up in a golden moment of kids’ adventure movies. I don’t see much today as fun and inspiring as The Goonies, Gremlins, The Last Starfighter, Starman, War Games, or D.A.R.Y.L., let alone full of the relative emotional complexity of Stand By Me or The Sure Thing.

I also am an overall student – nay, a worshipper - of movies, especially the classic periods of the screwball ‘30s, the foreign imports of the post-WWII era, the hippie rebel breakthroughs of Altman, Ashby, Cassevetes and company, and the independent wave of the early ‘90s.

All this is, in part, a run-up to me saying that I have been aware of 3-D for many, many years now. You know who else has been aware of this technological reality? Everybody else!

The movie industry is telling us these days that, after a decade plus of their declining revenues, we should all be excited to return to their theaters.

We should be excited to see big movies on the big screen instead of at home, on the DVDs they wanted us to buy after we’d bought all the VHS copies of the same titles, or on our computers.

I wasn’t around in the mid-1950’s, but I bet a similar argument was raised at that time. “Turn off your television! Put down that comic book! We’ve got It Came from Outer Space – in mind-boggling 3-D!”

I’ve seen 3-D movies several times. It’s never been impressive to me, with the clunky glasses and limp effects. I’ve never been scared that the beast is actually going to get me.

I did see Alice in Wonderland. I wanted to because the team of Tim Burton & Johnny Depp has made a handful of fun, wonderful movies together. I expect them to offer dazzling visuals, surprising performances and - something I never expect from James Cameron - humor and joy. They pleased me yet again, though the 3-D did little to enhance my experience.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how big or loud the movie is. I just want a good story, and to be moved to laugh, cry or cheer. Nude scene included when artistically necessary, of course.

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