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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 8, 2010 at 10:37 AM

“Avatar” returns to theaters, and more 3D talk

The Hollywood Reporter announced today that a special expanded edition of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” with an additional eight minutes of footage, will arrive in theaters August 27. It will be exhibited exclusively in 3D theaters, including IMAX 3D. Cameron describes the new footage as “never before seen footage” (which I guess means it isn’t on the DVD) “including new creatures and action scenes.”
“Avatar” is, of course, the gold standard of the current wave of 3D films. And then there are the rest of them. Some of you may have read Roger Ebert’s recent piece in Newsweek entitled “Why I Hate 3D (And You Should Too).” In it, he acknowledges that “Avatar” uses 3D masterfully (and that Cameron spent many years and many, many millions doing so), but that most films do not:

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

Ebert — who last week gave a blistering review to “The Last Airbender” and its 3D conversion — goes on to elaborately and convincingly make his points, and I’m not about to argue with him. I haven’t seen “The Last Airbender” or “The Prince of Persia,” two of the most recent 3D conversions, but I’ve heard plenty of complaints about them — and I’ve also noted that “Toy Story 3” and “Alice in Wonderland,” to give two examples, are very good movies that would be every bit as good without the minimal enhancement 3D gives them. What do you think of Ebert’s view (and do take time to read the whole story if you can), and of the current rush toward 3D? Do you think it best suits animated films? Have you walked out of a 3D movie and felt that the surcharge (usually $5, sometimes more) was worth it? Does the idea of “Jackass 3D” make your head hurt, as it does mine? (No, alas, I am not making this up.) Does “3D” in a title make you more or less interested in seeing the movie? Or do you make a point of seeking out the less expensive 2D screenings? Did you see “The Last Airbender” in 3D? On this very hot day (and where’s an air-conditioned movie theater now, when I need one?), let’s discuss.

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