Roger Ebert Says It So I Don’t Have To

Monsters vs Aliens

Roger Ebert offers thoughts about 3-D after watching Monsters vs. Aliens:

I will say this first and get it out of the way: 3-D is a distraction and an annoyance. Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they’ve been told to, and picture quality is usually far from their minds. But for anyone who would just like to be left alone to see the darned thing, like me, it’s a constant nudge in the ribs saying never mind the story, just see how neat I look.

[I]f this is the future of movies for grownups and not just the kiddies, saints preserve us. Billions of people for a century have happily watched 2-D and imagined 3-D. Think of the desert in “Lawrence of Arabia.” The schools of fish in “Finding Nemo.” The great hall in “Citizen Kane.” Now that flawless screen surface is threatened with a gimmick, which, let’s face it, is intended primarily to raise ticket prices and make piracy more difficult. If its only purpose was artistic, do you think Hollywood would spend a dime on it?

Ebert also disliked Monsters vs. Aliens, although he suggests that kids might enjoy it, “especially those below the age of reason.” Ouch!

Read more 3-D

  • Julian Carter

    Not sure I agree with Ebert here. I saw BOLT in 3D, but I never felt the movie was intent on distracting me from the story it was trying to tell. Perhaps rather than blame 3D, we should blame the people who design it. Other than that, my greatest gripe with (Digital) 3D are the contrast and brightness level changes. Those polarised glasses!

    So, I don’t mind 3D. I’d say my big question to Katzenberg (who feels the future of cinema is 3D and 3D exclusively …) is: “What about all those people who are blind from one eye?”

  • Emperor Tomato Catsup

    Normally, I would agree with Ebert on this, but I thought that Coraline was a really nicely-designed 3-D movie. I saw it in both 2-D and 3-D, and I much preferred the 3-D version. I would like to see more 3-D movies like that.

    Ebert liked Coraline but complained that the 3-D process made the picture murky, which wasn’t how it looked to me.

  • Roger Thornhill

    If 3D’s only appeal were piracy deterrence, why would so many filmmakers be scrambling to use the process? Having seen Coraline in 3D I’m staggered that Ebert genuinely doesn’t think this is the future of Hollywood movies. It’s not completely up to snuff yet, but up the framerate and projector resolution and it will be.

  • Ron

    Wow. A snarky Dreamworks post from Amid. What are the odds?

  • Sara

    It’s too bad Ebert panned the film, since it was starting to look like DreamWorks was going to be putting out movies I was actually interested in seeing.

    On the one hand, I agree about 3D being a gimmicky distraction, especially since my own vision problems mean that I don’t really get the full effect. But on the other hand, I can see how studios are turning to it as a natural extension of a general trend in feature films. With movie ticket prices getting more expensive, home theaters getting more elaborate, widescreen and/or HDTVs gettin more commonplace, and rental being less and less of a hassle with services like Netflix and video on demand, it’s getting procressively harder to put warm bodies in theaters when so many people say “Oh we’ll just wait a month or two and rent it.” The general response from Hollywood has been to try to give audiences something that they can’t fully get watching the movie at home. In the past, this meant big special effects extravaganzas with lots of explosions: your “Independence Day” type of flicks. But again, with home viewing options getting bigger and better, that argument holds less sway. So we get 3D movies.

    Though I’d rather see this fad come to a hasty end, I do think 3D in “Monsters vs. Aliens” was a missed opportunity, since the film could have had some fu spoofing 3D monster flicks crom the early days of 3D movies. But that would only have worked if the 3D was going to be part of the film from the beginning and if effort was made to make it, if not an integral part of the film, at least something that enhances the viewers’ enjoyment without feeling too forced. Adding it in partway through the production process was almost certainly a mistake and will do little to improve my feelings on 3D animated movies.

  • peter

    That´s the point! You can´t enjoy the story with that stupid gimmick in front of you making your eyes wet! We want our tears to be caused by a moving story, not by plastic glasses!

    But BEWARE!!!: After the upcoming 3-D failure, Mr K. will return with: the HOLOGRAM!!! Tickets will cost 15 dollars more because, besides a new super-glasses, you must buy “a-single-use-disposable” UNDERPANTS with bluethoth integrated!! I know, you don´t need glasses in order to see a hologram, but Mr. K will find a reason.

    (by the way, you could pay less money, but instead the bluethoth, the underpants will have 5 usb ports and, you know, ¡you cannot move so freely by the hologram-room with all those wires around yours!)

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    Word from the inside for a while was that it was a bit cack.

    But, as for 3D, I’m not so sure I agree with Ebert. I mean, I do in a sense but only because, for whatever reason, I find it hard to focus at 3D films so, for me, it’s a distraction. But I do not agree with the basic reasoning of ’2D has been good enough for us til now therefore nothing should change or improve’. If that logic were applied, we’d still be making films in black and white. And have mono sound. And keep slaves.

    Old doesn’t always equal better.

    I’m thankful for indoor plumbing and other innovations and, if they can get it so I don’t get a raging headache when I put those glasses on, I don’t see why I wouldn’t enjoy 3D too. It’s a whole extra D. How can that be bad?

    Filmmakers still have to frame things, compose just as they did before. The only difference is solidity. If it actually took over completely, the gimmick side of it would die down. We wouldn’t have objects stuck in our faces. They’d just be movies that happen to be in 3D.

    And, when that day comes, we’ll all look at Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare as a great work, way ahead of its time.

  • Rob T.

    Leaving aside from the merits and demerits of 3D itself (or Monsters vs. Aliens, for that matter), am I the only one who finds it more than slightly ironic that the company pushing 3D the hardest as the medium of the future should be road-testing it with a parody of half-century-old sci-fi movies? Or that the type and style of movie it parodies should be so strongly associated with the last time the industry tried to foist 3D on the public?

  • David Cuny

    I can understand him complaining that he doesn’t like 3D in general, but film has always reached for ways of being bigger and grander than reality. Painted canvas props, double exposure, glass paintings, miniatures, CGI… Film has always been “threatened” with props.

    The irony here is the bits that Ebert cites are all gimmicks of some sort as well.

    The real trick (which it appears Coraline has done) is to find a balance where the trickery doesn’t overwhelm the story.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~ironybread Taylor Jessen

    Yeah…3D’s just a gimmick. It’ll never last.

    Also sound.

  • Mark K.

    Just saw “Monsters vs. Aliens,” thankfully NOT in Stereo. I had a harder time finding “Coraline” in NOT Stereo, and can say I enjoyed both films about the same amount: not very. While I can appreciate all the work from some of the talented artists that goes into these films, I cannot stand any argument that begins with “but it looked cool” (or worse yet–”you shoulda seen it in 3D.”). WHO CARES? I want a good FILM. Not a “good animated film.” And both films suffer from extremely weak stories and characters. Especially characters. I love when great stories done in animation make great use of animation in a way that couldn’t be done in live action, but if for one second I’m thinking about this while watching the film, it’s failed. The story and storytelling is the thing–whatever the medium.

    “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is a chore to watch, and while I thought “Kung Foo Panda’s” minimal pop-culture reference was a step in the right direction for DW, they made up for lost time with this new film. And the characters really are only props, and NOT fully developed personalities. You can see the animators grasping for strong characters and direction in almost every scene, which screams “I don’t know what this scene is about, so I’m going to over gesticulate and splooge animation for no reason.”

    I was surprised at how few people were in the audience, but it was an early show.

  • http://markpudleiner.blogspot.com/ pudleiner

    “you had me at … …the title.”

    Yes, both the kids and I are very shallow and will go just because the movie is called MONSTERS vs ALIENS.
    ugh … sorry. :-)

  • http://www.vujade-ent.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    We (my family and I) saw a 2D preview screening the other night. We liked it. Was it as good as a Pixar movie? No. But it was certainly enjoyable. I plan to see it again in IMAX 3D.

  • http://asteriskpix.blogspot.com Richard O’Connor

    Those who compare 3D to sound are overlooking the fundamental form of the medium.

    What is film? Primarily a narrative art.

    Synchronized sound broadened and simplified the dramatic possibilities. It brought expanded characteristics which the medium had lacked. Sound fulfilled the essential nature of film (which is ultimately an extension of music).

    What does 3D do? Is it the missing essence of film?

    I don’t think it is. Film exists on the screen, just as theater is (mostly) behind the proscenium.

    This dimensional world is the domain of some future artform whose practitioners will look back at these novelties in the same way we view praxinoscopes and zootropes.

  • http://www.2719hyperion.com Jeff Pepper

    It’s a bit odd that Katzenburg and Dreamworks have become the whipping boys for the anti-3D folks all of a sudden. Disney was out in front with this more than any other studio, going all the way back to the reissue of Nightmare Before Christmas and Meet the Robinsons. Subsequently, Beowulf, Journey to the Center of the Earth and the various concert films demonstrate a scope beyond just animation.

    Let’s face it, in this age of HDTV and home theater, the dynamic of the movie theater has changed dramatically–the industry has to come up with a way to bring people back to the theater who have otherwise decided to stay at home and wait for the DVD or digital stream. It is rather disingenuous for someone like Roger Ebert, who never has to pay to watch a movie under nearly any circumstances, to be critical of something that is rooted in a business model. The movie theater experience does have to compete to survive, that is a reality.

    Setting aside issues of individual compatibility with 3D viewing, this current scenario of 3D is not all that far removed from the emergence of Cinemascope and and other widescreen formats during the 1950s. That came about in large part due to the advent of television. It would seem that Mr Ebert has no problem embracing width while at the same time criticizing depth.

    I have long respected Ebert, but he seemed more than a bit cranky on this subject. The comment,”Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they’ve been told to,” is ridiculously patronizing. What about an over-40 person such as myself who has not had any technical issues with the new 3D processes and simply reviews each 3D-presented film on its own merits?

    As others have stated, it is quite likely that this current wave of technically superior 3D will survive, much like other movie theater-based gimmicks that have come before–sound, color, stereo, and the aforementioned widescreen.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    I already wrote a comment on how to do right with 3D back in Amid’s earlier “We Swear, It’s Not a Gimmick”, but I will say again that you have to make 3D effects a smaller part of your to-do list and make the things you want (characters, story, setting, etc.) the first things you have to think about.

    I saw “Monsters vs. Aliens” today, and while it’s a bit too early for me to splurt out my opinion in a proper fashion and the movie didn’t really live up to it’s much-hyped potential, but I thought it was fun to watch, it was pretty funny, and I actually thought the characters were entertaining enough to hold my interest in them.

  • Mark K.


    pudleiner says:
    “you had me at … …the title.” Yes, both the kids and I are very shallow and will go just because the movie is called MONSTERS vs ALIENS.”

    A more than valid reason to go see the movie! Have fun.

  • Paul N

    3D makes me sleepy – nodded off briefly both times I saw “Coraline,” and was drowsy during “MvA.” Anybody else have this experience?

    And save your snarky comments, like “it’s not the 3D…” – I’ve already thought of all of them…

  • Charles

    I don’t mind 3D existing as long as there is a non 3D option.

  • Tom D.

    ebert has ALWAYS been against 3-d. the only reason he gives is that he personally doesn’t like it.

    i refuse to blindly follow the tastes of the man who wrote “return to the valley of the dolls”.

    perhaps grandpa ebert would like to get rid of other “gimmicks” used in modern day cinema, like sound and color.

    heck, animated cartoon themselves are a “gimmick” , using a “trick” to make comic strips look like they move.

    heck, let’s just go back to good old cave paintings!

  • Squib

    3D in movies is a great way to fight piracy. I’ll give them that much.

  • Danny R. Santos

    2-D , 3-D 3-D 3-D !? The whole thing gets to confusing, why not call computer animation CPA or C-A and leave the 3-D abbreviation to the intended medium.

  • tekena

    Although I agree with Ebert, I’m fine with 3d, as long as the film itself can constitute as entertainment. Apparently Monsters v. Aliens loses.

  • your_homework

    To those that compare 3D to sound: the jury is still out on whether 3D can expand the artistic field like sound or color. Can 3D be used in a unique way that brings the author closer to the subject instead of merely being a showy gimmick? I think of MASH and the overlayering of dialogue gave the audience a further sense of confusion and disorder that represented the war. Or The Royal Tenenbaums where the usage of cool colors in one scene to contrast warm colors in the rest brought many hidden attributes of the characters on screen. What can 3D do that 2D can’t?

    If it can do anything, it might be a long while. Remember that these movies are going to eventually go to DVD where 3D probably won’t be the best option. Thus I don’t see it showing me anything I need to see that I couldn’t possibly be able to see with the 2D version. Maybe it will take time for 3D to be used well, just as the first sound films were dialogue-heavy.

    But until then, someone needs to actually explain how 3D is capable of doing things 2D can’t do. What information can be better expressed in 3D, or is it merely eye candy? If the latter, that’s fine, but at least be honest instead on pretending that you already know it’s on par with innovations of sound and color: it could just as well be that it’s like the fad of overly expensive animatronics like in Howard the Duck.

  • Andy

    If the upcoming “Yogi Bear” movie (or any other ‘cartoon’ movie) could copy the charm, depth, and skill of the 50 some year-old View-Master reels, then perhaps 3-D has a future.

  • Bruce Wright

    Ebert is the guy who said digital projection was poor quality, and would never catch on because the hard-drive space required for even one movie cost tens of thousands of dollars.

    Guy never heard of Moore’s law.

    He also made nonsensical claims that movie flicker at 48 hertz induced a dream-like state in audiences, where higher flicker rates induce sleep, like tv does. Guy seemed unaware of the triple-bladed film projector.

    I saw MvA. I didn’t care for it. I thought the 3d was well done, though.

    I’m a proponent of 3d. I think it gives the audience members who want it some added fun in a movie theater. And there’s some room, hopefully, for people who want to have fun in a movie theater. No need to bemoan the decline of western civilization just yet because (*gasp!) a Dreamworks animated comedy about 50′s monster movies (EGAD!) released their movie in 3d, undercutting all their serious cred as deep and ponderous auteurs!

    Lighten up. It’s about having some fun. It’s not like you were ever going to see this movie anyway, Amid!

  • Rick

    Tom D, Ebert wrote “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, a delightfully bizarre movie. Speaking of Roger Ebert/Russ Meyer collaborations, I’m still waiting to see if Pixar’s “Up” can compare to their film “Up!”, talk about bizarre…

  • Geoff. W.

    I saw MvA today, in 3D, and as a movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t HI-larious, but it was fun and funny. Then again, I’m a fan of Godzilla movies… so perhaps I was a built in audience?
    As for the 3D, well, I admit I saw it in 3D mostly out of curiousity. Being touted as the greatest 3D experience available (by Katzenberg, I believe) I had to see for myself. And… meh. The problem with 3D is that no theatre exists that can truly give a great 3D experience (the OMNIMAX theatres are closest I suppose.
    Life isn’t tunnel vision. When you look straight ahead, you still see thing peripherally. Movie screens, no matter how big, do not wrap around you, thus no matter how much 3D tries to bring you in, you’re always on the outside.

    Like I said, I really enjoyed MvA as a movie. However, in terms of 3D and animation (and movie overall), I preferred Coraline.

  • Andrew

    This is one of the VERY few animated films Ebert has actually given a bad review!!! That’s saying something!

  • http://tangoland.com Cynthia

    “3-D is a distraction and an annoyance.”

    Agreed. I’d rather laugh than spend time looking at thousands of individual cat hairs.

  • Cookiepants

    Ebert also says this:
    “On her wedding day, sweet Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is mutated by a meteorite; just as she walks down the aisle she grows to (I learn) just an inch short of 50 feet, maybe because *Disney* wanted to respect the copyright.”

    So forgive me for not giving the review a lot of credit.

  • timmyelliot

    I recently read the book _The Talkies_ by Donald Crafton, which mentioned films starting to add sound in the late 20s/early 30s. It mentions that critics had the same reaction to sound being added to film.

    But then again, they also had legitimate points. With the new technology, a lot of filmmakers were initially playing to the “wow” factor, and less focused on strict narrative progression.

  • http://www.vujade-ent.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    your_homework posted a very insightful comment. it’s well worth scrolling up for another look.

    I agree. When 3D can be used to enhance the story experience, as do sound and color in the examples that he cited – that’s when it will cease to be a gimmick and become a true cinematic tool.

  • Hazard5

    Who doesn’t like eliminating all of their peripheral vision during a viewing experience!

  • J. Encea

    “Let’s face it, in this age of HDTV and home theater, the dynamic of the movie theater has changed dramatically–the industry has to come up with a way to bring people back to the theater who have otherwise decided to stay at home and wait for the DVD or digital stream. I”

    They should start by telling a story. Preferably a good one–well.

    3D glasses butcher the image. I’m very surprised so few film makers could care less. Obviously, the producers like Jeffrey Katzemburg doesn’t.

  • Jason

    IMO, Katzenberg’s excitement over 3D simply translates as: “I know we can’t beat Pixar in story or imagination or character design, but we’ll lick ‘em with gimmicks!” Sheesh.

  • http://www.cineforum.ca/ Reg Hartt

    Well…

    I have invested in a field sequential 3D system for the Cineforum.

    It uses wireless shutter glasses.

    I also picked up a set of really nice red and blue anaglyph glasses plus a set of the new blue/yellow.

    So do I like 3D?

    Obviously, and I always have.

    I also got my hands on a ton of 3D features and shorts.

    And I have just about everything that matters coming in in a few days.

    On top of that I bought a 3D camera plus a gizmo to attach to a regular (digital) camera to allow it to film in 3D.

    The equipment I have allows me to convert 2D movies to 3D.

    That is a real treat.

    THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI in 3D is a stunner. Seeing those sets in real space is an incredible treat. The same for METROPOLIS

    I did a Buster Keaton film in 3D (COPS) and, again, WOW!

    The neat thing is that I am able to share these experiments with others.

    There will always be those who say, “Those films were not designed for that…”

    So what?

    I wanted to see ordinary films in 3D. I also wanted to see what the effect on an audience would be of seeing those films in 3D.

    Anyone who thinks 3D alone will pull folks into a theater is wrong.

    It always comes down to a combination of story and sheer chance.

    Last week I got the Sensio 3D dvd of TAZA, SON OF COCHISE with Rock Hudson.

    Forget about the movie (it is a Douglas Sirk film and very good).

    What excited me was the chance to SEE Monument Valley in color and 3D.

    Then there is the added bonus of depth not only of field but of objects and the clothing people wear.

    My eyes don’t find 3D a strain at all.

    Just the reverse.

    3D is just one more tool in the artist’s tray.

    With the new technology the day is dawning when independent film makers will be able to produce works not dictated by the tyrants of mass market consumerism.

    What is needed is a chain of small independent screening spaces in our cities so that their work can be seen in an arena other than the web.

    Exciting days are ahead.

    Monday nights in Toronto I am giving a symposium on the history of 3D–good films, bad films, features, shorts, the works.

    We will have a beer or a glass of wine or scotch and chat a bit.

    Have a second beer (or glass of wine or scotch) and watch the film and a third (and fourth, fifth and sixth) after the film and discuss it.

    The Greeks knew wine lubricates the mind. I am with them.

    B.Y.O.F.D.

    If you want to study the medium drop by.

  • Steve

    Oh right, it’s the production design coordinator’s fault…. Wraparound screens indeed. It’s worth it just to put a mathematical proof up as a brand mark and then drop it out of 2D coherence about the time it should make sense to the audience. Got it!?

    It’s to make everyone registering Poser 12.0 apply for their SAG.

    Yes, it’s so you can render whole blogs to scrolling wells of text and grok them at once. You won’t go in and pick C64 Mono 3pt. for all of your browser fonts, so it’s going to be -this- way. Slowly we’ll work up to having live feedback in person, town hall meetings that neither suck nor take 10 hours at a bloc, an accessible congress and house, and eventually some pop-up fiend from Idahostan will lay us all flat when they break the filters on those things. It’ll take 3 weeks to get that extruded Bodoni Slant Bold 800 number out of our heads.

    Yes, 3D is the reason my studio now has a Mathematica farm instead of an nVidia one. The piracy trope is a joke; not like there’s anguish about how to technically do things, but perhaps to assert that scurvy cutdown to CD will not sell Samsung plasma or LCD stereo televisions, much less (insert studio equipment-maker here.)

    That guy with the neck arrestor and granite hat with glasses on it…identical hats arranged around him to match the Dolby configuration? Not the pirate you’re looking for.

    Kinesthetes will note that with interframe stereo, you don’t get to bob your head in addition to altering visual attractors to increase S/N on what your 3D scene is. You have to sort of throw to that in post.

    Telling a story well is not where you start. You start by kicking in the couch cushions on the matte and setting and where you want the camerawork to call people in, sort of de-Gene Wildman the thing, and fill with story like you want one side of your new friends to be completely contented. Perhaps pleased that your new fetishes involve brand sponsors; then you cut in the plots of the entire _Leprechaun_ series to make it worth seeing twice. Maybe you want a different 3D genre to get in by, but that’s the mill.

    Yeah, 3D frames are a little squat in profile often….

  • http://www.2719hyperion.com Jeff Pepper

    J. Enecea–since you quoted my comment directly, I’ll respond in turn.

    “They should start by telling a story. Preferably a good one–well.”

    That is irrelevant to the point I was making. I simply was stating the “why” of the current move to 3D. I don’t need to go to a movie theater to enjoy a well-made film, I can do that much more comfortably at home. But I do need to go to a theater to enjoy the enhanced experience that the new 3D processes provide.

    There will be good 3D movies and bad 3D movies. Films that simply exploit the process will ultimately fade away, but the process itself is likely here to stay.

    Your statement that “3D glasses butcher the image” is very overstated. If that were the case, the new 3D wave would have quickly faded by now. For the vast majority of moviegoers the process works near flawlessly.

  • http://doujinshiland.blogspot.com adamvanmeter

    My big complaint about the 3d films is that I need to wear glasses over my regular glasses, which is uncomfortable. When you ass that to the fact that I am a HUGE man with a HUGE head, and the glasses they distribute are all much too small…

    yeah, I’m not a fan.

  • Sabrina

    I don’t always agree with Ebert, but sometimes he hits it on the nose.

    I don’t mind 3D per se, but I can’t stand how studios are exploiting it.

    What gets on my nerves even more is how half the critics spend their time commenting on the quality of the 3D rather than the movie itself!!

    I swear Monsters v Aliens has a good rottentomatoes review solely because most of the reviews went, “Boring story as a whole…. but the 3D looked nice!”

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    Never thought I’d say this, but I enjoyed the 3D effect. It definitely is jarring but if that z access can be used wisely, it can really bring you into a world that I haven’t explored yet. I especially like how environmental effects-or special effects in general become much more vivid. I’m beginning to think it’s here to stay now, and it’s time to adjust. I thought I’d test the waters with Monsters vs Aliens to see if I want to watch UP in 3D, and I do! Can’t wait.

  • Brian Kidd

    I love 3D films. I always have. What has to be remembered is that it’s icing on the cake. If you bite into a cake and realize it’s all icing, then you get sick. When 3D is used well on a good movie, then it absolutely adds to the experience. Some people aren’t built for 3D movies. Their eyes and brains simply can’t adjust to them. No shame in that. Me, I’ll see a 3D movie any time… except for the Disney tween flicks. CORALINE was a movie that would have been great with or without the 3D. Seeing it in 3D just made a great movie even better.

    After seeing MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, even 3D couldn’t help it. Bland, bland, bland.

  • Inkan1969

    It seems to me that Dreamworks is especially hyping MvsA as a 3D movie. More hype about 3D than any of other big mainstream releases this year. I was getting the impression that the 3D version was the “artistically correct” version of this movie. But thanks to cartoonbrew I’m reading that this may not be the case. That this movie really wasn’t made with the 3D medium in mind. So now I’m undecided as to bother with watching the 3D version (I’m definitely not going to see “Up” and “Ice Age 3″ in 3D, but I did see “Coraline” in 3D and liked it, as 3D made sence for a stop motion movie).

    Hmm, OK, tell me; are there any T&A shots of Ginormica. If there are, then maybe I’ll have a reason to watch the 3D version. :-D

  • Sara

    Just to clarify, I don’t think anyone is saying “3D is new, so we hate it.” (Well, maybe Amid.) The fact that the technology hasn’t quite hit the point where all the bugs have been worked out is an issue. I do have something of a bias because, like I said, my vision issues mean that while I can see them and normal films fine. 3D doesn’t do much for me. As long as the technology requires sometimes cumbersom glasses that don’t fit everyone or gives some people headaches or what have you, I think Hollywood is going to have a tough time switching to all 3D all the time. But the bigger issue here is whether or not 3D can be used as an effective device help tell a story. It is not hard to see how sound can help the narrative in a film. While you can get around its absence and even used it to your advantage, I bet you could find any number of films that simply do not work without sound. Color is much the same. Though you see films that were made in black and white by choice much more often than you see films made without sound by choice, you can still probably pick out any number of color movies which would simply not be as effective in blac and white, especially in the world of animation where color has long been used more subjectively. Now I may not be the best person to ask because I haven’t seen a lot of them (due to the aforementioned vision thing), but personally, I have yet to see a movie that did not work as well in 3D as it did in traditional 2D film. There are some cases where something goes flying into the extreme foreground of a shot and i think “Oh, that was probably neat looking in 3D.” But if I wasn’t told in advance that the movie was originally shot for 3D, I don’t miss it. It’s either that or I’m looking at a scene and thinking “Why is this scene in here at all? Oh, it must be to show off the 3D.” To me, that doesn’t say “the movie only works in 3D;” it says “the movie is being hurt by having this gimmick forced into it, resulting in this totally useless scene which is only designed to show off the 3D effect.”

    I’m not saying that you could never have a film where the 3D truly compliments and enhances the story. But it is a tough tightrope to walk. Lean too far one way and you have a very nice film which happens to have 3D effects, but could just as easily be viewed without the effects. Too far in the other direction and you’ve got scenes of characters playing with paddle balls and jumping out at the audience for no reason other than to justify the 3D. Maybe someday, someone will make a movie where the needs of the story truly justify the use of 3D effects. But if studios continue to shoehorn the idea in as they did with “Monsters vs Aliens, ” that day isn’t going to come anytime soon.

  • J. Encea

    “Your statement that “3D glasses butcher the image” is very overstated.”

    No, it is not. It is quite simply a fact–a fact which even the best Stereo process engineers freely admit. It dims the contrast and color over 30%. And this is standard. It may be over come some day, but it’s not there yet, and won’t be without overhauling the brightness of the projection systems–something no theater is going to be willing to do once they’ve committed to the present lame process.

  • OtherDan

    I keep reflecting on Monsters vs Aliens-not the film, so much as the neat experience. I think people here are intellectualizing the use of 3D in story too much. It seems like there is a consensus that it should be used in a strict theoretical, cinematic sense to be acceptable. But, I came away with more of an impression or feeling from the effect. Usually I walk away thinking about if I thought the movie was put together logically and effectively. That’s why I think it may be time to shift perception about watching films, as hard as that may be. And let go of the comfort of knowing how to analyze a film’s structure. Because I think 3Ds primary advantage is to figuratively submerge the audience into a film, rather than project objects into a theatre. I noticed that action moving inward had a different feeling than the opposite. Much like the left vs right screen direction has a way of signaling a tone. The psychology is pretty interesting.

  • http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-et-3d6-2009apr06,0,3132067.story 3-D Trend

    “More and more, the theatrical experience needs to be something special,” said Dick Cook, whose Walt Disney Studios is making more 3-D movies than any other company. Its slate includes this summer’s Pixar movie “Up,” the guinea pig comedy “G-Force” and 3-D versions of the first two 2-D “Toy Story” films, which hit theaters this October.

    “I think 3-D gives the audience an unmatched element of excitement and fun,” Cook said.

    “In some sense, doing ‘Toy Story’ in 3-D has been a dream, because we created the movie in 3-D anyway” as opposed to single-plane, hand-drawn animation, Pixar’s John Lasseter said, adding that theaters couldn’t exhibit it in the format a decade ago. “And a generation of kids who only have seen the first two movies on TV and video can now see them in theaters.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-et-3d6-2009apr06,0,3132067.story

  • Anonymous

    Ebert has become such a sour old crank to me, especially after this. I don’t know how old he is (REALLY old I’m sure), but he’s definitely slipping into the crotchety “Everything was better in my days!” grandpa personality that we can’t stand. Seriously, calling kids “below the age of reason?” Why not just bolt a neon light onto his skull that says, “ageist jerk.” If kids heard him say it in person, they’d throw law to the wind and beat the tar out of him. I’m not one to wish ill will on others, but in the most extreme sence, I hope he’s close to the old-age-death age by now.

    I enjoyed the heck out of the movie before I even heard the reviews, so hearing all of this is an emotional sucker punch to the brain. I know I shouldn’t care what other people say and like what I want to like, but all critics need to get new jobs anyway. It’s honestly a pointless job that requires you insult people for a living. I don’t care if it is constructive, it’s just wrong.

    Ebert, I respect you as a person, but you are now infuriating as a critic. Please retire soon.

  • http://www.marketsaw.com Jim Dorey

    @Jason – FYI, Pixar AND Disney have already joined DWA in committing to all future CG animations being in stereoscopic 3D.

    Roger Ebert is a dinosaur and very close to extinction – his comments underscore my opinion. My review of him is on my site.

  • KarmaRocketX

    “What can 3D do that 2D can’t?”

    Accurately display an additional layer of dimensional depth without simply attempting to emulate it, for one thing.