4. “Gimmicky” 3D is Bad
Most filmmakers maintain that 3D should serve the film’s story – resulting in the subtle use of 3D discussed in the last section. But what if your story is a tongue-in-cheek comedic misadventure or balls-to-the-wall action flick – i.e., a film that is fundamentally designed from the ground up to avoid subtlety? Answer: forget subtlety and have fun.
Many cinephiles are quick to dismiss in-your-face 3D as a shallow gimmick, but moviegoers have also championed plenty of theater experiences where 3D was intentionally not-so-subtle. In fact, toying with audience 3D expectations often delivers a smart riff on established gimmicks – such as a death scene in Final Destination 5 involving a sailing mast. 3D filmmaking has been around for a long time, but as it becomes more and more prevalent (see question #1), it’s encouraging to think that directors will find fresh ways to tweak the formula in order to surprise audiences. Of course, less-subtle uses of 3D can be disorienting (even nauseating) to watch – and going forward, filmmakers have a responsibility to ensure that more aggressive 3D isn’t just entertaining, it’s comfortable on the eyes.
Like “subtle” 3D, “gimmicky” 3D isn’t going to be tasteful to every single filmgoer. There is no one-size fits all, so defining pop-out 3D effects as “bad” isn’t exactly an accurate conclusion, either. In-your-face effects are responsible for crowd-pleasing moments in well-received films like Fright Night, Dredd, and Piranha 3D, among others – not to mention documentaries like Born to Be Wild 3D as well as the growing trend of 3D concert movies.
Different 3D experiences – just like different film genres – can peacefully co-exist in theaters. If your taste is limited to one approach more than another, the best thing to do is keep informed regarding how 3D is used in each film.
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