My first experience with 3D movies was at IMAX in Sydney. It was some obscure educational documentary and you had to wear crazy headgear that wouldn’t have been out of place in a steampunk sci-fi film. My initial reaction was – meh.
Fast forward several years later to 2009 and I decide to jump on the bandwagon and see James Cameron’s Avatar in 3D at the IMAX in Melbourne.
Whatever flaws the movie may have had, it did showcase 3D technology at its best, with several segments of the film clearly and obviously existing for the sole purpose of capitalising on the 3D visual effects. Also, you now only needed Clark Kent style glasses to watch it. While my eyes were tired after the 3+ hours of the movie, I was sufficiently impressed with how 3D technology had evolved since my previous experience.
Not long thereafter (2010), Clash of the Titans came out in 3D and a group of friends made plans to see it in 3D. Most of those friends preparing for their first 3D experience.
The feeling I had with this movie was that 3D was slapped on because it was making money. In some places it made scenes look more fake, while in many of the action sequences, the shifting perspectives and speed left the visuals blurry and difficult on the eyes.
This was the consensus of all of my group, and best as we could tell everyone else in the cinema, it was a poor experience. Some of those friends were so disappointed with 3D, they to this day have never gone to see another 3D film, considering it to be a complete waste of money.
I know 3D has made somebody a bunch of cash, but I wonder how much more money it cost them rushing the technology in and losing potential fans in the process.
That was the last 3D movie I saw for a couple of years until, with nobody to blame but myself and George Lucas, I went to see the 3D release of The Phantom Menace.
This was horrible and I actually walked out of the movie nursing a fierce headache before it even got to the climactic lightsaber battle, which was about the only part you could look forward to in that film. I spent large parts of the movie sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t believe it! They actually made it look more fake!’
The layering effect 3D often makes a scene look like it was shot on bad greenscreen and the background superimposed using 80s-90s TV show technology. Especially when used in scenes where it is wasted like exposition scenes.
I actually believe that directors filming in 3D could take a tip from the 1991 Freddy Krueger foray in to 3D effects, where most of the movie was shot in normal 3D. Then, on a visual queue the audience were prepped for at the beginning, put on their 3D glasses for the 3D sequences. Really, using 3D throughout a film when it really only adds value in key areas like action sequences, or set shots specifically designed to frame the 3D effects, is wasteful and possibly even harmful to the general acceptance of the format.
(scary warning on this trailer for anyone that doesn’t like the horror movie stuff)
So its now 2014, along comes Godzilla and I figure I will give 3D another chance.
At first I think that some things don’t change. The early exposition sequences again make it look like the foreground characters are being shot on greenscreen.
But then a few shots start working their way in and I begin thinking, that works. They did that part well. Avoiding spoilers, there is an early scene with young Ford looking through his classroom window that I thought was pretty well done. And once the action got going, it came together visually pretty well.
Okay, Godzilla is not going to scare up any best acting nominations in the next Oscars. Most of the human performers are largely wasted, and really only exist so that the special effects budget can take a breather in between cool stuff. There are definitely flaws in the movie. But in the whole, it was good and perhaps even a strong demonstration of 3D effects in a movie.
And in closing, I want to comment on the reaction from some viewers that this incarnation of Godzilla is too fat (article here).
STOP CREATING UNREALISTIC BODY IMAGES FOR MOVIE MONSTERS YOU FIENDS!
You know what would be worse than giant lizard monsters smashing up your city? Giant lizard monsters suffering from bulimia, barfing up partially digested tanks and boats and stuff on the fleeing citizens!
Stop promoting unrealistic body images for giant rampaging monsters!