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The real world is 3D, movies should not be

Posted by Mick on March 6, 2010 – 12:10 am

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I hated writing when I was younger.  I avoided it at all costs.

I was thinking about that this afternoon, as I couldn’t wait to get to my laptop and start writing.  What happened?  How did I not “get” this when I was younger?  Part of me wants to blame my teachers.  I don’t think any of my English teachers ever explained to me why I needed to learn all the rules about writing.  They never bothered to explain to me how I could apply what they wanted me to learn to something I would have liked to do.

I’m an educator myself.  I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, with a focus on behaviorism.  I know a few things about “learning”.  Here’s a fact – no one learns anything unless they have a reason to learn it.  That means that before you can teach a person something, you have to explain to them why they need to know it.  The tricky part is this – that why has to be something that matters to them.  Not to you, to them.

You have to learn this to get an “A” never worked for me.  You have to learn this “because I said so” never worked for me.

Part of me wants to blame my teachers, and I think it’s a valid statement.  They could have done better.  Part of me is also honest enough to admit that I had a tendency to ignore things that I didn’t want to do.  I wasn’t the most open-minded child.  Or teenager.  Or young adult.  I would get interested in something, and focus intently on it.  If something didn’t catch me at first impression, it tended to get pushed to the side.

I decided I didn’t like writing, so I didn’t work at it, so I wasn’t very good at it, so I didn’t like it… you see where this goes.

This is the point in the story where I tell you the point of the story.

I’m glad I didn’t start writing until now.  I’d hate to read anything I might have written 20 years ago.  I was going through some painful stuff, and I hadn’t yet learned what I didn’t know yet.  Now, I know what I know, and more importantly I know what I don’t know.  I’ve achieved something called perspective.  I’ve learned a little something about stories.  That’s helpful when you want to tell stories.

Now I’m just looking for a way to make a living telling my stories, or even helping other people tell their stories.  It’s coming.  One way or another, it’s coming.  I’m accepting any help you might wish to offer, by the way.  I think part of gaining that thing called perspective involved losing some of that thing called pride.  I’m not too proud to ask for help, I’m not too proud to accept help when it’s given.

Brother, can you spare some funding for a serial killer movie?

In other news, Tara and I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland this evening.  It was far better than I expected.  My expectations were quite low, so that was not a hard bar to clear.  I’m far too tired to give a full review, but I’d be more than happy to share a few thoughts.  Then again, how often do I decline to share a few thoughts?

Alice in Wonderland, as rendered by Tim Burton, is not by any means a new classic.  It’s also not as bad as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I enjoyed it.

I think that many of us in the film geek community become desensitized by the sheer number of movies we see.  We become sated on excellence, and we become engorged on genre fare that caters to our particular fetish.

Yeah, I said fetish, and I meant it.  You get a boner for anything in your favorite genres.  Metaphorically.

We become somewhat elitist, and we forget that sometimes a movie needs to be dumbed down a little to appeal to the bigger audience, the bigger audience that is required to justify a film like Alice, with a cast of thousands and special effects galore.  It’s not going to be what we want it to be, because if it was it would never get made.

And maybe Tim Burton is out of great movies.  That doesn’t mean he might not have a few good ones left in him.  I was tempted to write him off a few weeks ago, thinking he hasn’t done anything very good in the last 10 years.  And then I remembered Big Fish.  I loved that movie.

I did not expect Alice to be that good.  Alice is a different movie.  Alice is eye candy.  I think Burton put as much of a stamp on it as he could and still make the movie Disney wanted him to make.  It’s a popcorn movie.  It’s 2 hours of turn your brain off and take a little trip to eye-candy-land.  And some kid who isn’t yet a movie geek is going to watch it and get interested in Tim Burton.  That kid will go back and visit Batman, and Pee-Wee, and Edward Scissorhands, and maybe even Ed Wood.  Some little girl will watch this movie and learn a little something about standing up for herself.

I will watch this movie again just to see the Cheshire Cat.  I loved the fading effect!  He was almost cute whilst still being creepy as fuck.  The color scheme wasn’t my favorite, it made me feel weird, but maybe that’s what he meant to do.  I may watch this movie again just to watch Crispin Glover, because I find him fascinating in everything he does, even when it’s nothing special.  He was nothing special here, and yet I still like to watch him.

I can say I would have preferred a 2D screening.  The 3D was distracting.  Alice is a perfect example of my objection to 3D.  The “realistic” scenes were actually rather pretty in 3D, although I could have lived without them.  I say that, but the scene in the coach at the begging of the movie, where we see a 3D interior scene with a 3D exterior scrolling by the windows, was off-putting, like a bad green screen driving sequence.  As soon as we got an effects-heavy scene, such as Alice falling down the rabbit hole, the 3D becomes a huge fucking spotlight screaming “LOOK AT ME! I’M IN 3D!  IT’S ALMOST LIKE YOU CAN TOUCH ME!”  I don’t like to be screamed at.  The story vanishes and it becomes all about the effect.  That makes me sad.  The story isn’t bad.

3D is appropriate for some movies, it’s a gimmick for most movies.  The SHREK trailer is a perfect example of this.  It’s in 3D.  Big deal.  I don’t see any real point.  It screamed at me.

Then came the trailer for Tron: Legacy.  This movie needs to be in 3D.  This movie requires it.  It did not feel like a gimmick, it felt natural.  And it looked… good.  I am well pleased.  Flynn Lives, indeed.

I’ll tell you this.  You should go see Alice in Wonderland in 3D just so you can see the Tron trailer.

Be good to each other.

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