Rants, Reviews, Musings, and otherwise unconstructive critisisms of what you like and why I'm always right.

Star Wars in 3D is the worst thing ever.

It was recently announced that the STAR WARS saga will be released in 3D format starting in 2012. While some have understandably vented their frustrations and hesitations with this, there are many that don’t understand what the big deal is. Why are we so upset? Well, to put it simply. It’s combining something we detest already with something we love that has been slowly but surely been ripped from us bit by bit. So to properly explain why STAR WARS in 3D is, in fact, the worst thing ever, you must first understand why 3D is destroying the world as we know it, and you must understand what George Lucas has done and continues to do to the Star Wars name.

To avoid simply ripping off other articles, I highly suggest you visit the following link:

Roger Ebert’s article titled “Why I hate 3D (and you should too)”

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/04/30/why-i-hate-3-d-and-you-should-too.html

3D is the worst thing to happen to movies in my lifetime. The whole concept of 3D is not to make the film you are watching better in any way, it is simply there to make the studios more money. Until people learn that it’s not a good deal to spend $5 more to see a movie in 3D, we all lose.

And it’s all Avatar’s fault.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Avatar. But unlike 99% of you out there, I did not originally see it in 3D. When people told me “sure, the story sucks and the movie is only ok, but you HAVE TO SEE IT IN 3D!” that makes me angry. Why? Because, like with any movie, special effects do not make a great film. They are simply a tool used to enhance the story. And when all we care about is whether the movie looks cool through those silly glasses, we lose sight of the reason movies are good to begin with. This is the reason why having Jar Jar Binks in your movie doesn’t make it automatically better than a movie that was made before CGI existed. If the movie is good, if the storytelling and other aspects are there, it will be good whether or not it’s in 3D or not. It’s the same reason a good movie should be good whether you watch it on vhs on a 20 inch tv or on a 100 inch projection screen with blu-ray. The nicer set up enhances the experience, but it does not make the movie itself better!

I ended up liking Avatar, and was pleased with the fact that it does indeed hold up as a good film. That being said, I don’t blame people for going to see Avatar in 3D, as it was made with specialized cameras and other tools that took years to develop and utilize. Avatar was a vision that took 4 years of work to realize, and thus became the phenomenon it is. But its popularity now comes with a price, as 3D has infiltrated the medium to the point that every other shitty half-assed movie coming out is given the 3D treatment. Not only that, but classic movies that have no business being ruined will be re-released in theaters in 3D as a total gimmick just to make more money.

We now see even more movies where little care is taken when actually making it, just because the studios know people will pay to see the 3D aspect. And it will work. People will leave the theater and go “that movie was pointless, but I loved the things popping into my face!” And they will pay extra on top of the already ridiculous movie ticket price to say that.

This trend isn’t limited to film. Playboy had an issue featuring a 3-d centerfold equipped with 3-d glasses for your own creepy, abnormal entertainment. Maxim did a similar spread next month.

http://gizmodo.com/5536893/francis-ford-coppola-watched-part-of-avatar-without-3d-glasses-on

Joining fellow film industry chum Roger Ebert, Godfather director Coppola has spoken out against 3D movies. Saying he’d rather make films in 2D with larger format for “some big scenes much like Abel Gance did with Napoleon” (or Christopher Nolan did with The Dark Knight), Coppola believes that the 3D format is just another way “to make you pay more money for a ticket.”

James Cameron tells Deadline about Hollywood’s official obsession: “After TOY STORY, there were 10 really bad CG movies because everybody thought the success of that film was CG and not great characters that were beautifully designed and heartwarming. Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.”

Michael Bay weighed in, saying  “Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not.  Avatar took four years. You can’t just shit out a 3D movie.”

When even Michael Fucking Bay thinks it’s an overblown, gimmicky, bad idea, we’re in trouble.

 


How bad is this situation becoming? Here’s a sampling of movies set to be released in 3D:

Ring 3D

Titanic

Men In Black

Saw 3D

This is after people sat through horrible fare like Journey to the Center of the Earth, My Bloody Valentine, and The Final Destination just because it was in 3D.

The marketing of 3D has been terrible. There’s really no way around it as far as I’m concerned. I have never seen a movie in 3D and thought it was a better experience than in 2D. Even with Avatar, comparing an IMAX (we’ll get into this more soon) presentation with a viewing on a great home theater wasn’t a significantly better experience. And that’s a movie that spent 250 million using special cameras to achieve the look and was made specifically to make 3D look as good as it can. Even if every 3D movie was made like Avatar I think it’s safe to say I still wouldn’t be on the bandwagon, but at least  I could accept it for what it was and understand why some people enjoy it. The problem is, Avatar is by far the exception. The vast majority of 3D films being released are fake 3D! They are filmed normally and then digitally processed into 3D after the fact. This creates a sort of 3D depth effect, but does not do anything to make the movie better. In fact, often times it makes the film WORSE. See: The Last Airbender.

 


I read a joke when Avatar came out on blu-ray that I totally agree with. I believe it was The Office’s Rainn Wilson that said “I’m about to watch Avatar at home on blu ray. To simulate the 3D experience I will rub vaseline on my glasses and burn a five dollar bill.”

The Roger Ebert article goes into great detail explaining why 3D can make the experience worse, and the fact is that this fad is only here as a way to make the studios more money with minimal effort. In short, it’s a marketing scam that people are falling for left and right. The picture is usually dimmer and blurrier, you wear uncomfortable glasses, it can give many people headaches, and the colors are severely muted. And you get to pay an extra $5 or more for this! The paradox of the matter is that for 3D to make a difference it has to be noticeable, which then makes it distracting from the movie itself. There is no escape. Either you are distracted by the 3D, or you don’t notice it, in which case it would be pointless. And regarding IMAX, unless you see a film in a true IMAX facility, it’s not true IMAX. Any IMAX screen in your local theater is just going to be a barely larger screen than normal pushed closer to the seats. It’s simulated IMAX, the only benefit you are really seeing is sitting closer to the TV. You do get improved sound, which I am all in favor for, but overall it’s just another gimmick to be able to charge you more for the same movie.

Now, on to Star Wars. Sit back folks, you’re in for a long one.

Subtle.

My love for Star Wars naturally goes back to early childhood. I’ve seen the original trilogy countless times and can honestly reenact them word for word with minimal screw-ups. I know these movies as well as anyone. I’ve participated in countless debates over their film merits. I’ve argued about which one was the best. I’ve fallen for the cycle and bought them all numerous times on numerous formats. I have the little toys. I have the posters decorating my walls. I’ve played the games. I loved the original trilogy so much that I watched our taped-off-of-broadcast-television copy of the original Star Wars over and over before I owned actual copies of all three. I sat through Episode I opening night at 15 years of age and tried to convince myself for the next year that it was a good movie. I re-watched Episode  II a few years ago and was astonished that it was even worse than I remembered. I remember being so disappointed with the first two prequels that Episode III actually seemed fantastic in the theater. Part of the reason I became so enamored with Kevin Smith and his films was due to the constant barrage of Star Wars references and jokes. I love all the parodies that have come out over the years lampooning the saga, from Family Guy to Robot Chicken to even Thumb Wars. And through it all, The Empire Strikes Back remains my favorite film of all time. I will argue to the death about why this film is virtually perfect and why it, along with the original Star Wars, should be included with everyone’s top films.

Why do people like me care so much about Star Wars? Simply put, the series as a whole represents better than anything else why I watch movies in the first place. It’s the larger than life characters, the imaginative aliens, the adventure, the drama, and the humor. It all comes together to take us to another world that has remained so memorable for more than thirty years.

For my reviews of the first two Star Wars movies, go here:

https://lifexinxrewind.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/fave-films-star-wars/

https://lifexinxrewind.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/fave-films-the-empire-strikes-back/

Another fantastic article on the importance of The Empire Strikes Back can be found here:

http://simplyrobert.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/the-empire-strikes-back/

George Lucas, the creator Star Wars, has done a lot of things to make us Star Wars nerds angry over the years. It all started back in 1997 when he decided to re-release the trilogy in theaters. Fantastic, we thought. This was a chance to see them in theaters, something I was born too late to do! We then found out they were being updated with new special effects and such to make the films George “had always wanted to make” but couldn’t due to time, budget, or technology. The new special effects were, for the most part, great! New shots of TIE Fighters in the battle of Yavin looked fantastic. The cleaned up picture was great. They took out the see-through cockpit in the snow of Hoth. The rancor from Return of the Jedi no longer had ridiculous thick black lines around it from where they had composited it into the shot. But for every great new updated shot, there was mind-boggling changes that not only didn’t make any sense, seemed to be put in just to piss us the fuck off. Why does Han Solo no longer shoot Greedo unprovoked? Not only does Greedo attempt to shoot him first, Harrison Ford’s body now unrealistically shifts to the right to avoid the blaster fire! It looked ridiculous! Why is there now a CGI Jabba the Hutt talking to Han Solo in the next scene?!? Not only does it look terrible, but it ruins the ensuing reveal of the Millenium Falcon to Luke! Hey, while we are at it, let’s add a bunch of nonsense kiddy slapstick to the entrance to Mos Eisley! The Empire Strikes Back found them inserting a horrible scream when Luke jumps off the platform during the climax. And in Return of the Jedi, we were treated to a god-awful song and dance number featuring a horribly composited CGI band and dancers. The list went on and on. Why couldn’t George just fix the outdated effects without completely changing parts of the films? Why did he feel the need to put silly things in that would only appeal to 4 year olds? It felt like a slap in the face to those that had continued to support and be excited about all things Star wars even 14 years after the most recent film had been in theaters.

HAN SHOT FIRST.

Then came the prequels. Even after the treatment the originals got with the special editions, Star Wars Episode One was primed to be one of the biggest movie events ever. Unfortunately, some of the inferior aspects that had crept into Return of the Jedi (making it the least of the originals, if still very enjoyable) were showing up in full force, and it became clear to us fans that while George had some fantastic ideas that went into these movies, ultimately he needed the right people around him to ensure they were executed well. With the original film, the hardships with limited budget, time constraints, and the task of creating whole new ways of shooting effects forced Lucas to be creative, opening the door for the film to be as innovative as it was. With the sequel, he was smart enough to hire a great screenwriter and fabulous director to oversee things. He still got his way with the overall idea, but these people allowed the film to become a focused production. Once Star Wars had become as big as it was, Lucas unfortunately became his own worst enemy, caring more about what toy tie-ins and other such nonsense could be worked into the films. Return of the Jedi didn’t fail, but it certainly lacked some of the things the first two did so well, instead focusing on things like those little teddy bears called Ewoks. By the time the prequels were to be made, George had surrounded himself with people who were not capable of challenging him on anything. He got his way 100% with the prequels, and we all paid for it. While Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a giant step forward compared to the first two, it still lacked the heart and charm of the originals because, like all of the prequel films, the focus was on cramming as much blatant CGI effects and green-screened backgrounds into as many shots as possible. If there was ever a film to describe as “plastic” or “fake,” I give you Episode II: Attack of the Clones, by far the low point of the entire saga.  We got horrible wooden dialog and lackluster plots and pacing, because it seemed all George cared about was making them look flashy and making lots and lots of money from them, especially from the merchandising.

If you’ve ever wondered why these movies are considered to be such disgraces, check out this excellent series of videos from YouTube from a user called “Redlettermedia.” There is a 90 minute review for “The Phantom Menace” as well as “Attack of the Clones,” and they do a far better job than I ever could have accurately pointing out what sucks about these films in the most entertaining way I could ever imagine.

The next few blows us die-hard Star Wars fans would take would be when Lucas finally released Star Wars on DVD in 2004. More changes were made, and while a few were subtle and made sense in tying together all six movies, there were again some changes that made many want to strangle George right there. Hayden Christiansen being inserted as a ghost into the end of Return of the Jedi?!? Fuck you George Lucas! And on top of more horrible revisions, they couldn’t even get the presentation right! The color scheme of the entire trilogy is off, making Darth Vader’s lightsaber look pink and the planet of Hoth look blue. The sound mix for Episode IV: A New Hope is even screwed up, switching the rear channels and other such nonsense such as removing the epic fanfare music during the climatic death star battle. Why were these things done? It doesn’t make any sense, and that’s why Star Wars fans can’t get over it.

 


To see a list of all the changes that have been made to the Star Wars movies, go here. It is an excellent series of articles with screenshots:  http://www.dvdactive.com/editorial/articles/star-wars-the-changes-part-one.html

Needless to say, we’ve been through the ringer over the years, as they say. We love these movies, and we’ve seen them little by little be tampered with in every way possible. We’ve accepted the fact that when they are released on blu-ray in 2011 that they will be the revised special editions with all the horrible changes. In fact, a wonderful superfan even went in and re-edited Episode IV: A New Hope, spending two years making THE definitive version of the movie. I simply refuse to watch it any other way. It’s called Star Wars: Revisited, and you can check out the info and all the changes he made here:

http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/STAR-WARS-EP-IV-2004-REVISITED-ADYWAN-DVD-9-VERSIONS-NOW-AVAILABLE/topic/5942/

It’s free to download and legal as long as you own Star Wars on DVD, so I HIGHLY encourage it. It’s simple wonderful. All the crap that was changed is back the way it should be, the colors are fixed, the sound is fixed, and there are many more big changes ALL of which I endorse.

So we’ve finally gotten to the real point here. You now should have some understanding about why 3D is terrible, and you understand how Star Wars has been taken from us over the years from the wonderful experience we grew up with into a series full of emotional baggage and other such nonsense. Putting these two things together is just WRONG. We don’t need to see Star Wars sullied yet again by being made into a pointless fad. Do you REALLY want to see Jar Jar Binks in 3D? How about lines like “Anakin! You’re breaking my heart!” 3D will not make the poor entries of the series any better, and the original movies certainly don’t need a gimmick to be worth seeing. Converting them to 3D will bring nothing to the table that will benefit the films at all. It’s just yet another excuse to make more money by getting people to see and purchase the same thing.

Not only that, but the release schedule of the films is horrible. Episode One is set to be released in 2012, with each year bringing the next entry. This means we wouldn’t even see a good Star Wars movie until 2014, and you’ll be waiting until 2016 to see the best one. By that time, will 3D even be relevant? We can only hope not, and in that case Fox would just look silly trotting them out when the format isn’t viable, or they would be forced to stop mid-series, which would be another embarrassment to Star Wars. Why present them in chronological order anyway? If they insist on doing this, at least do them in the order they were made. A prequel is supposed to fill in the back-story, not just become the new order of viewing. No one is watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine before watching the original X-Men! (Actually, no one should be watching Wolverine at all).

It’s insulting that we are asked to purchase Star Wars over and over, through so many formats, and every time there is deemed a good enough excuse they trot it back into theaters to make more box office cash. Yes, it’s always exciting to have the chance to see Star Wars in the theater. But the principle of the matter tells me to make a stand. Star Wars is too important, too legitimate (though Lucas has done his damnedest to ensure otherwise), to classic of a series to have this happen to. It’s no wonder the younger generation doesn’t understand why people like Star Wars so much. It simply isn’t given the respect it deserves by its own creator, and that is what’s the most tragic. The story of Star Wars is Anakin Skywalker’s rise into power and fall into his own greed, much like what has happened with George Lucas over the years. He once said “a special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing” and then forgot all about that when he chose easy money with the prequels. In the Star Wars saga, Anakin eventually redeems himself. We just keep hoping it’s not too late for George.

That’s why until the next horrifying development, Star Wars in 3D is the worst thing ever.

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2 responses

  1. Julia

    If this were on facebook I would say *LIKE!*. Man that was a lot to read but it kept me going. I agree with almost everything you said.

    October 1, 2010 at 3:24 am

  2. simplyrobert

    Fun but pointed post. It does seem that Star Wars has evolved from a cultural landmark into a cash cow that has been over-milked.

    And thanks for the link!

    October 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm

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