Why I Hate the New 3-D Plague

This past summer, I took my daughter to the movies to see Disney-Pixar’s Up. When we arrived at the theater, I attempted to buy admission to the very next showing, but the teenager in the booth warned me that I was about to purchase tickets for a showing in the non-3-D theater. If I wanted to wait 45 minutes, he told me, we could get into the next showing in the far grander, 3-D outfitted theater. Why, I wondered, did they even bother having 2-D showings? So we waited, paid the extra $3-a-piece “glasses rental fee,” and saw the movie in all its eye-popping, three-dimensional glory. I’d made a big mistake.

Up was a brilliant film—filled with profound moments of nuance and beautifully subtle bits of character development. All my daughter remembered about it was that she tried to reach out and touch the balloons. I think it’s extremely unfortunate that 3-D has become the norm for animated films these days: Up, Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age 3, G-Force, Coraline, Bolt, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—all in 3-D.

If a family flick gets released without an in-your-face version, you assume it must have been some kind of mistake. They’re even taking old movies that were never meant to be 3-D and re-releasing them as 3-D extravaganzas—like the original Toy Story films, which managed to become classics despite a lack of characters threatening to tweak your nose. It’s a disservice to our children. How are they supposed to learn to appreciate good cinema when all they expect from a trip to the theater is a shot of a ping-pong ball that looks like it’s about to hit them in the eye? How are they supposed to learn the power of storytelling when they’re too busy swatting virtual insects to pay attention to the plot?

It’s bad enough that some movies hide their mediocrity behind flinch-inducing effects (sorry, G-Force), but it’s even worse when a good film gets lost in the 3-D madness. Coraline’s success was all due to its creepy atmosphere—an aura that is totally lost in the midst of va-va-voom visuals. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a genuinely funny film, but do you even have time to read the humorous store signs in the background while you’re dodging falling chicken legs?

Save yourselves some money, and get more out of the movies you’re going to see, by buying tickets to those 2-D showings. Maybe if we all do, Hollywood will be reminded that family entertainment needs more than just a "wow" factor. Besides, those glasses are never comfortable anyway.

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