Film Fanatic: For the love of 3D

Or: How I learned to love stereoscopic home entertainment in all its guises...

Back in February I finally took the plunge and became the proud owner of a 3DTV. Well, I say that. What I actually mean is that I became the proud owner of a shiny new 50in plasma TV that I knew would make my Blu-ray collection look sensational. The fact that it also offered 3D functionality was little more than an afterthought – although I was aware this would enable me to review 3D Blu-ray titles for Home Cinema Choice magazine, rather than having to palm them off on other, 3D-enabled, members of the team, or making use of whatever stereoscopic TV was kicking around the office [not literally - Ed] waiting to be auditioned.

Well, what a difference the best part of a year makes. Actually, it was more like a few days. The very moment that the TV arrived I decided to run my Resident Evil: Afterlife Blu-ray through it, just to make sure it was all working. Some 96 minutes later, with the film’s end credits poking me in the eyes, and memories of Milla Jovovich running around in slow-motion firing bullets into my face still cluttering my brain, I knew that it was.

Within a matter of hours I’d ordered up a 3D Blu-ray copy of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo on import from the US. And by the end of the week I’d embarked on an indiscriminate campaign of pillaging any 3D discs I could get my hands on from the piles of old, unwanted review copies lying around the HCC office. Before long I had amassed a sizeable collection that took in everything from Conan the Barbarian to The Lovers’ Guide 3D. In other words, I was hooked on 3D Blu-ray.

All of which is a bit of a change from the bygone days when I once spent month after month slamming the whole idea of 3D in this very column. While I still stand by everything I ever said about Avatar back in the day, my stance on 3D as a format has completely shifted. Not that I’m saying it’s perfect – but donning those spex in the comfort of my front room has, in some way, managed to transform the simple act of watching a movie at home into a real event once again.

Converting to conversion

Now, in the months that I’ve owned the 3DTV, I’ve had the chance to watch a heck of a lot of stereoscopic films, some native and some converted in post-production. And I’ve come to the conclusion that people who complain about the latter out of principle are utterly misguided.

I’ve watched films that were shot native that have badly misjudged stereoscopic effects, and others that were shot ‘flat’, converted in post, and look absolutely fantastic. It’s all about how the filmmakers approach the idea of 3D and plan for it. The much-maligned Clash of the Titans remake from 2010 wasn’t a poor 3D experience because it was converted. It was a poor 3D experience because the director never intended it to be stereoscopic in the first place, and the conversion was forced onto a film that hadn’t been designed with it in mind.

Compare that with Wrath of the Titans. It too was shot flat, but this time it was conceived from the beginning as a 3D conversion. And what about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance or John Carter, two more conversion jobs that offer some seriously convincing 3D thrills?

My advice is to leave your prejudices behind. Good 3D is good 3D whether it’s shot native or achieved in post-production. After all, Piranha 3D was a conversion and Piranha 3DD was shot native – so you tell me which of the two is the more satisfying experience…

What other films were doomed to failure by poor marketing??Let us know:
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This column first appeared in the September 2012 issue of Home Cinema Choice