Mark D. Roberts

I’m feeling cranky about 3-D movies. Yes, I know they’re the latest fad. But I’m hoping, like most fads, this one will soon pass away.

I’ve never been a big fan of 3-D movies, ever since I saw Jaws 3-D in 1983. I just didn’t appreciate having a strangely colored and proportioned Great White Shark sticking out of the screen into my face. (Of course the fact that the movie stunk didn’t help matters any.)


Since the olden days, 3-D technology has improved greatly. When I watched Jaws 3-D, I wore red-blue glasses that gave the whole film an odd tint. Today, polarized glasses considerably improve the 3-D experience.

But I still don’t like it. For one thing, the polarized glasses darken the film. They also make the screen a little less clear. And I found that I had to keep pushing the 3-D glasses back up on my nose, since they tended to slip a bit.

My most recent experience with 3-D came over the weekend as I saw The Green Hornet. Yes, I admit it. My family and I had hoped to see The King’s Speech for the second time. But it was sold out and the only other reasonable option was The Green Hornet. Yes, that’s right, we skipped Gnomeo & Juliet and the Justin Bieber movie (both of which were available in 3-D). I didn’t expect much from The Green Hornet, which lived up to my low expectations. But I was curious about how 3-D technology would impact my overall experience. It did add a bit of pseudo-realism. For me, however, the losses of 3-D far outweighed the gains. I did not get the headache that many 3-D viewers report. But I found that I was less engrossed in the movie than if it had been in two dimensions.

Oh, I suppose if 3-D really catches on, I’ll get used to the distraction. The human brain has a immense capacity for adapting to new sensory experiences. When I first started wearing progressive lenses in my glasses, for example, the world seemed strangely shaped and blurry around the edges. Now it looks completely normal because my brain has adjusted. So it might be with 3-D in movies.

But, honestly, I am hoping that 3-D goes the way of “Odorama.” That was a gimmick in the 1981 John Waters film Polyester. Filmgoers used a card with ten scratch-and-sniff patches that were coordinated with elements in the film. When a certain number flashed on the screen, audience members scratched and sniffed the patch with that number. And, yes, I was one of those lucky viewers who enjoyed a variety of smells, including smelly tennis shoes and other delights.

Perhaps my negative reaction to 3-D movies is simply an indication that I am getting older and crankier. Then again, it’s not an accident that the best films today eschew 3-D technology. I doubt we’ll be seeing 3-D versions of The King’s Speech, The Social Network, and True Grit anytime soon.

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