Before a recent Saturday matinee screening of Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D — which, for the record, is a unabashedly bloody excursion into B-movie mayhem — I took in trailers for no less than five new 3-D movies: Resident Evil: Afterlife, Tron: Legacy, Green Hornet, Jackass 3D and Saw 3D, all of which and more (including the next installments in the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia series) arrive on the heels of this summer's avalanche of like-formatted fare.
But is 3-D's return to prominence here to stay? Historically astute movie fans know the faddish format died a quick death in the early 1950s due to its reliance on uncomfortable glasses and its unwieldy, two-strip technology. The format's resurgence in the early 1980s was just as brief, despite a more conducive projection system and slightly more comfortable glasses (apparently Jaws 3-D failed to persuade audiences of its future glories).
Several things are different this time around, perhaps none more important than the fact that the cinema's prominence has been threatened by the rise of extravagant home-entertainment setups aided by mondo-sized HD TVs and bombastic surround-sound stereo systems. Why, it's often argued, should we leave the comforts of our own home if the experience — at least from technical perspective — is essentially the same or, in some cases, better than what a traditional movie house can offer? Add in the fact that the time period between a film's theatrical release and its DVD/Blu-ray/streaming-video release is collapsing rapidly, and argument against traditional moviegoing is even more acute.
Hollywood, emboldened by the massive success of James Cameron's Avatar, clearly believes 3-D is its current and future salvation. Now, as if its record-breaking box-office haul wasn't enough the first time, Cameron is bringing back his movie industry “game-changer” in a “special edition” this week, complete with nine extra minutes of footage. According to a press release from Avatar: Special Edition's distributor, 20th Century Fox, “The number of available digital 3-D screens has exploded, and moviegoers who missed experiencing the film in 3-D, as well as fans that want to return to Pandora again, will now have that opportunity.”
Expect and an even bigger explosion — both in terms of available digital 3-D screens and the number of 3-D movies — by next summer.
So, yes, 3-D appears here to stay. Whether this development is a good thing is an entirely different question.
AVATAR: SPECIAL EDITION — James Cameron's 3-D juggernaut is back armed with nine minutes of previously unseen footage. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG-13.)
LAST EXORCISM — As long as The
Last Exorcism is maintaining a lighter, more
satirical tone during the film’s first half, it’s on pretty solid
ground. But a movie selling itself as horror eventually has to start
providing payoff, and it’s here where the script and director
Daniel Stamm just don’t seem to have the right chops. (Read
full-length review here.) (Opens
wide today.) — Scott
Renshaw (Rated R.) Grade: C
TAKERS — Matt Dillon and Hayden Christensen headline this crime thriller about a group of bank robbers who decide to pull off one last heist. Alas, things don't go as planned. John Luessenhop directs a cast that also includes Zoe Saldana, Paul Walker and a pair of rappers who know a little about criminal activity: Chris Brown and T.I. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon.