Not to say that it's any surprise the movie industry is all about making a buck, but one would think it had enough foresight to know when it has beaten a prize horse to death.
Never mind Hollywood has sought to lure Gen X viewers back to the theaters to re-sell them their youth in the form of remakes. Everything from The Karate Kid to Arthur to Clash of the Titans to A Nightmare On Elm Street has been rehashed for both nostalgic older filmgoers and their youngsters who naturally missed out on all the fun back in the day. The Star Wars franchise has at least remained relevant to pop culture utilizing fresh, new material and as a result, we can honestly say there's a unique Star Wars generation for today and yesteryear.
However, just as toy manufacturers exploit working class parents by ramming their old playthings back up their wazoos as irresistible bait to their kids, so too does the film industry, acting in cahoots. The Smurfs are coming, The Smurfs are coming... Hopefully He-Man stays on Eternia. Dare we think back upon Dolph Lundgren's ill-fated Masters of the Universe live action film way back when? Krull is a superior eighties fantasy vehicle and that's saying nothing.
The onslaught of today's superhero films are undeniably a collective cash cow, albeit for those of us who grew up reading comic books to idle our afternoons away instead of the internet, these films are a dream come true and most of them are awesome. Particularly if you've ever seen the earlier efforts to translate The Punisher and Captain America to film, oy...
Then there's 3-D. Sure, there's something fun and magical about three dimensional films. If there's any genres better suited to 3-D than others, it's horror and science fiction, though today's CGI animation style translates into the 3-D realm quite effectively. However, the modern popcorn film is now defined as any damn film the industry wants to overhaul in the hopes you plop down a few extra bucks for the "experience" of images jumping into your lap while gnawing on those poofy kernals. If you spill your popcorn in reaction to sudden propulsions from the screen, then the theater is rather happy to sell you more at their inflated prices.
Hate to say it like an old fogie, but 3-D used to be special. You didn't have it very often back in the day. One of the first acknowledged 3-D films is Vincent Price's 1953 classic, House of Wax, one of the many horror films that has been remade in this generation of filmmaking--and to be fair, the new film was far better than anyone could've expected and guess what? It didn't use 3-D! Enjoy the irony.
While 3-D experiments in film go back even further to The Three Stooges' 1949 short "The Ghost Talks," one might say the medium wasn't wholly battle-tested until recent times. Gorilla at Large from 1954 came out as more a gimmick amidst the slew of theatrical gags during the fifties. Consider another Vincent Price favorite, The Tingler, actually buzzed your seat in the theater when the monster showed up. Nowadays, the wiring and insurance would sink such an enterprise before the final print was mastered. Gorilla at Large, however, was a clunker B movie that really looked terrible when they tried to translate the film as 3-D onto UHF t.v. stations. Today, you have 3-D televisions. Again, enjoy the irony.
The eighties represent what is today known as the "blockbuster" film. The decade set a precedent for action, horror, comedy and fantasy films, most of which turned monster profits. While not every film of the decade was a classifiable E.T. or Raiders of the Lost Ark, it did try (with mediocre success) to revive 3-D in the form of Jaws 3-D, Friday the 13th Part III, Amityville 3-D and the seldom-seen cult favorite, Metalstorm. Even the sixth Nightmare on Elm Street film, Freddy's Dead had a portion done up in 3-D. It brought people into the theaters, but not as many as Hollywood projected back then. Of these, the Friday sequel turned the best profit and many might argue it's one of the finest 3-D romps ever, even if the film is merely a kickback guilty pleasure in 2-D.
While 3-D films mostly took a powder through the nineties, you did see revival 3-D comic books in the underground press and then you had Voivod's The Outer Limits album, which comes packaged in 3-D. The Outer Limits, in my opinion, is one of the grooviest 3-D packages there is.
It's no secret 3-D has boomed in the 2000s. On the one hand, horror flicks such as My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Final Destination and the Pirhana remake are bloody good fun as the 3-D spectacles they're intended to be. Outside of 3-D, however, they can't even compete against Roger Corman's worst.
So now Hollywood opts to shoot contender "blockbuster" films in 2-D and doll them up into 3-D. Today, 3-D is so state-of-the-art you don't need to take the time and expense to film it in 3-D. Just set up the shots, because technology can run those images from a 2-D plane to 3-D and ye-bang, instant marketing boost. Helps the cause for manufacturing DVDs and Blu Rays when the original print lies in 2-D. The 2010 Clash of the Titans remake was one of the first to be called out by critics for employing this cheapo strategm and when you watch the so-so 2-D version, you're even more offended. Clash 2010 was every bit a gimmick as its cheapo ancestor, Gorilla at Large.
Then, of course, there's gold in them thar hills for turning kid films into 3-D ventures. What better impressionable demographic is there than children, who badger the snot out of their parents to take them to the movies? When Shrek, Kung-Fu Panda and the Toy Story clan jump in your laps, the kids think of instant fun. Hollywood hears cha-ching...
Here's the thing, though. It's become almost remarkable now to see a new movie trailer without the 3-D tag. Whether you're going to see Green Lantern, Tron: Legacy, Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides or the final Harry Potter film, you're given the option to see it in 2-D or 3-D. While many have cited Tron: Legacy as a 3-D spectacle, I caught it in 2-D and didn't feel I was missing out on too much beyond a few slo-mo in-your-face moments. Many of those who caught Tron: Legacy in 2-D gave it a thumbs-down, so consider that food for thought.
I personally feel the final Harry Potter film going in 3-D is a cheap shot by the industry to rake in on what should by now be considered the epic storytale of this generation, Lord of the Rings notwithstanding. Harry was written in the now and filmed in the now and we're forever endeared to those children who grew up before our eyes. The final stanza of The Deathly Hallows is often brutal and emotional. That should be enough to lure people into the theaters. Having it as a 3-D experience is obviously just too much for Hollywood to resist, given the big battle in the wizarding world opens the door for huge possibilities to throw shit at viewers. Really, though, since none of the previous films came out in 3-D (though they threatened to in the first half of The Deathly Hallows), do we really need 3-D to finish it all? So long as we get to see Harry kiss Ginny and ditto for Ron and Hermione at the end, then damn you, Hollywood, quit dicking with it.
How do you feel about 3-D, readers? Too much fun or simply too much?