Is 3D really worth it?

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After many discussions with various people about 3D cinema I’ve began to question whether; 1) it is worth the extra money to see the film; 2) if there is really any need for the 3D. Obviously there are very strong pros and cons to this argument and at the end of the day it will most probably come down to personal preference, but here are my views on the subject.

I am, by default, a pessimist. Not too sure why but I’ve always been this way, so I will start by looking at the con’s, or negatives, of 3D. First of all the price at cinemas now are getting ridiculous. For example at Odeon cinemas the price of a standard adult ticket is £8.25 and for a child: £6.50. To watch a film in 3D you must pay a further £2. Prices at Vue cinemas are no different at £8.30 per adult and £6.15 per child, with an additional price of £2.25 or £1.70 for an adult or child to see the film in 3D.
There are adverts at the start of every film about piracy killing cinema, and at the start of a DVD it says piracy is killing the industry. But, expecting people to pay £8 plus as an adult to see a film in 2D – or the ridiculously inflated price of anything from £10 to see it in 3D – is preposterous. Most of the world is going through a huge economic crisis and for what you get, particularly in some cinema’s, it just isn’t worth the money. Yes, there is the actual cinema experience, but that is something I will come to later. Most of the films you pay £10 to see in 3D will cost the same or less to buy and own yourself to watch whenever a month after its release date.
The problem for me with 3D films is that the actual quality of the 3D is very polarised. In my opinion, it is either fantastic or very poor and disappointing, or in the case of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, none existent. When I went to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film in 3D, I didn’t have high hopes for the film itself, with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley not appearing in it, I was just hoping for Johnny Depp to carry film. However, I was hoping for the 3D to really blow me away but I ended up sitting through a very mediocre film thinking “so where is this 3D?” only to glimpse a 3D ship in water about 4 minutes from the end. Obviously there are films where the 3D really adds to the film.
The most obvious being ‘Avatar’ as it broke records left, right and centre. It was a good film and the addition of 3D made it mind blowing. I’m sure most of you have seen it, so I won’t go into much detail but, basically, a whole world was created with tall blue creatures and floating mountains, and it looked pretty damn good. There are other films that have looked good in 3D, for example Ridley Scott’s latest film ‘Promethuis’, and, from what I have read and heard, ‘Madagascar 3’ was very good in 3D. For me the only real redeeming feature of ‘Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon’ was the use of 3D. The action scenes in the film were really quite wonderful, but other than that the film was rather disappointing considering the reasonably high bar set by the first transformers film.
When you go to the cinema you should be able to just sit there and soak up the film, really let everything that is happening sink in and just enjoy the entire experience. But, what I’ve found is that when you are watching a “3D” film often you are sat there looking for the few parts that are actually in 3D and enduring the rest which is not so much. You then realise that you haven’t paid attention to the last 15minutes of the film because you are trying to figure out if the bush is actually in 3D during the heartfelt scene the main characters are involved in, or wishfully thinking that you hadn’t wasted that £2 that you could have bought a 500ml bottle of coke and a Twix with down the local shop.
Another thing that makes you question whether it is really worth watching a film in 3D, is the possibility that in the middle of the film you will develop a headache from the effects or worse, start to feel nauseated. Nothing ruins a film for you more than having to run out to vomit, apart from maybe annoying pre-pubescent children sat there talking and giggling throughout the film. There is also the awful glasses that you have to wear, if you are someone who needs to wear glasses to be able to see and contact lenses just don’t work you are forced to face a problem when watching a 3D film that you will never encounter in your life, unless you are a scientist. That is, running out of nose space for your glasses to fit on.
The counter argument to this is “the cinema experience”. I will admit there is no comparison between sitting in the cinema enjoying a film and sitting in your living room or bedroom enjoying the film. The only real positive of watching it at home is if you need to use the toilet, you won’t miss anything. There are films that you do have to see in the cinema to really appreciate them for instance. For me films like ‘The Avengers’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Avatar’ were must see films. However, out of the three listed, I only watched ‘Avatar’ in 3D. I just couldn’t think of what 3D could have added to ‘The Avengers’ or ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Maybe I was wrong, but in my eyes you can enjoy about 94% of films in 2D as you would in 3D. Again there are the exceptions, ‘Avatar’ being the most obvious. As I’ve said in previous paragraphs, in most films 3D doesn’t really add much to the movies especially in the case of the Pirates of the Caribbean where there really wasn’t any point in the 3D at all and I didn’t want to risk watching a film that I had been dying to see since it was announced and having it ruined by 3D. I have spoke to people about ‘The Hobbit: An unexpected journey’ and whether it was worth seeing it in 3D or not. I had an overwhelming response of “No, don’t bother”. Every reason I got for this was the same, every action sequences was blurry and it made the film darker and really detracted from what was a very good film.

One person I spoke to even went to see it in 2D a few days later just so they could actually enjoy the film at the cinema. As I said at the start of this article whether 3D is really worth it or not does really come down to personal preference, but for me it just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s not the price that puts me off its just how hit and miss the films can be. I would much rather sit through a 2D film than see the odd arrow pop out of the screen a bit or a boat seem closer than the other, which frankly can be done easily in 2D with camera angles. I also, as said before, do not want to run the risk of having a film I’ve been impatiently and excitedly waiting to see for months ruined for me because of lacklustre 3D. It seems that the real reason behind Hollywood’s latest fetish for 3D is to make more money instead of the quality of the 3D.

With Thanks to –


Roger Ebert

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