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3-D television is useless if the shows are no good

August 29, 2010 12:35 am

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THE OTHER DAY I saw an advertise- ment for a new 3-D television.

It talked about how much more impressive, dazzling and eye-popping TV can be in 3-D.

And it showed a whole family sitting on a couch enjoying a great movie together.

I'm all for new technology, and have seen a few films where it really changed the whole process. But 3-D--whether it's on a snazzy new TV or in a movie theater equipped for it--is just the format.

Whether the TV show or movie is any good or not still depends on creativity and hard work.

Hollywood and now the TV networks would have you believe that all you need to do is buy that new TV or spend the extra few bucks on a movie ticket and--voilà!--everything's better.

My mental response to this ad: Most people think too much of TV stinks in 2-D. Just making it 3-D isn't going to change that.

In fact, there's a distressing tendency in many of the 3-D movies I've seen that can lead you to believe that the process itself can distinctly hurt the quality of what gets made.

That's because instead of making a movie where the storytelling and images work together, they play up the "Gee whiz!" nature of the way you see the films.

In other words, they make the movie so that stuff flies at your head at least once every minute or two, as if that little twist hadn't long ago gotten old.

Sure, sometimes that works with what's happening on screen.

But more often than not, it's just a gimmick that takes away from the story.

I can count on one hand the films in which being made and presented in 3-D actually added to the finished product.

Chief among them: "Avatar," which conveniently reopened again this week with a few minutes of extra footage.

Being shot in 3-D really added to this film because of the density the format added to the alien world that was the draw of the film.

When you saw a background, there wasn't a tree or two, and not even dozens. There were hundreds, as well as vines, plants, flowers and a whole world of deep and dense vegetation.

Ditto for floating hillsides and foreign creatures that filled the frames.

Cut to the worst example of the 3-D format: "Piranha."

Yes, it's a silly movie to start with, about the release of large, ravenous, prehistoric flesh-eating fish into a lake where kids are spending spring break.

The original was made as a farce after "Jaws," and the plot in this one is pretty similar.

It's too bloody by a factor of 10, but what really gets obnoxious after just a minute or two is the way it uses the 3-D technology to have fish, or boats, or people themselves seemingly come straight at you out of the big screen.

Enough, already.

The other technology push that doesn't make sense to me these days is services that let you watch TV on your smart phone or other tiny little screen.

Yes, that would be great while you're waiting for a plane or when you're at a function and just can't miss seeing your favorite team play.

But will a population that has been told TV's no good unless it's on a 60-inch wide-screen television really like it on one the size of a checkbook?

And why bother if it's not in 3-D?

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
Email: rhedelt@freelancestar.com





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