You’re on the Landmark Cinemas website to check the showtimes for a new movie you’re super excited to see. You scan the times and your heart sinks: all that’s available is 3D. Now you’re faced with an impossible decision of either skipping movie night or sitting in a theatre for two hours with 3D glasses on your face looking like a 2010 Tumblr girl with a headache.
There may have been a bit of novelty to 3D movies at first. Seeing James Cameron’s Avatar in 3D and seeing the colours of Pandora burst to life—reaching out of the screen—is an insane experience, especiallywhen you’re nine years old. But now, thirteen years on, the novelty has worn off and it’s time for 3D movies to go.
Films are supposed to be an immersive experience. We watch movies to explore other worlds, universes, and lives. Visual immersion is vital to feeling like we’re with the characters we’re watching on screen.
Some might argue that 3D makes films more immersive, but anything that requires you to wear something on your face is intrinsically less immersive than what you’d experience with your eyes untethered by headache-inducing goggles.
It’s the same reason VR hasn’t caught on: wearing a device, whether glasses or a headset, presents a barrier to our engagement with whatever we’re trying to look at. People don’t want VR because it’s far more accessible to just look at a screen with nothing over our eyes. The same is true with film.
Anything that forms a barrier over your eyes makes watching things more difficult.
Nobody should mourn the loss of the third dimension, film studios included. Producing 3D films requires additional cameras and production costs—which are footed by viewers. It makes no sense for studios or audiences to pay more for an inferior viewing experience.
Most films have no business being 3D, anyway. Why does The Boss Baby have to be 3D? What single shot is more impactful when viewed in three dimensions?
Regardless of its visual content, it seems like a rite of passage for each film to offer a 3D option. Alternatively, studios that want to make 3D a selling point include cheap, poppy shots whose only purpose is to look cool in 3D. It’s lazy filmmaking.
That’s the fundamental problem with 3D: 99 per cent of the time, 2D is a far better viewing experience. There might be one or two shots per film that look nice in 3D, but the rest would look just as good—if not better—in 2D.
3D films might be the quintessential example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
2D films are perfect. Rarely will you think, “this movie was great, but I really wish it looked like Spider-Man was shooting his web directly into my face” or “I really wish that emotional conversation was 3D so the characters looked like one of those lenticular birthday cards.”
For now, 2D films are the most immersive film experience we have. Save yourself a headache and some money by ditching the glasses and sticking with two dimensions.
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