In case you missed it, the official site announced that the six live-action Star Wars films will be returning to your local theater, this time in 3-D starting in 2012.
My immediate response was one of apathy. However, after a few hours of thought and sleep, I’ve slightly adjusted my position.
First, in the world of 3-D films, I’ve only been able to see the effect once or twice. The first one that came to mind was during the stellar Space Station 3D IMAX film, which I caught last year. In that documentary, there is a long shot along the axis of the International Space Station that looks out into the depths of space, and that shot stood out very well behind the 3-D glasses. I remember taking off the glasses to look at the screen and get the full effect of what technology was doing. Unfortunately, the only other time the effect returned was when the astronauts were demonstrating weightlessness with a ball, and that was intermittent for me.
The second time I saw a 3-D effect work was at the fun but intellectually vacuous 4-D “ride” based on A Bug’s Life at Disneyworld, and that was during the typical “coming right at you” moments. I tried watching Up in 3-D, mostly because that was the only way our local theater presented it, but nothing ever looked three dimensional. I know there were moments, because the audience was “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing at those points.
My second big concern is in the technology side. If a movie is made in 3-D from the ground up, the effects tend to work better than if the movie is 2-D initially and rendered to 3-D later. Unfortunately, the Star Wars saga was born in 2-D, which makes me apprehensive at the quality of the end 3-D result.
I think my problem with 3-D is because I know that it’s a visual trick. In the sparse moments when I’ve forgotten where I am with a 3-D movie, the effects work, but if I’m thinking about the movie and the experience, all I see is a flat screen. So, the next response is, “don’t think about it.” Space Station 3D was a documentary about something I know quite a bit about, and honestly, was a significant chunk of eye candy. Like I’ve already said, A Bug’s Life 4-D was low on substance, lasted about five minutes, and was broken up with the “fourth dimensional” effects of rumbling chairs and blowing air to represent things that happen to the viewer in the show. Both instances involved distraction from thinking too much about the material presented on screen. The problem is that I can’t switch off the analysis during Star Wars movies. They’ve been a big part of my life since I was kid, and it’s hard to separate that.
Now, I don’t want to seem like I complete “Debby Downer” on this. I am excited for the saga to get another big screen release for another generation of children, but if Lucasfilm uses the current 3-D technology, I won’t play. I would love to see the films again with the theater experience, but I don’t want to sully that experience by filtering the imagery with 3-D glasses that don’t work for me. Like any other visual filter, the glasses tend to remove a portion of the vibrancy that I expect on the silver screen. Watching the 3-D films without the glasses is completely out of the question for obvious, headache inducing, reasons.
My opinion is tempered with the fact that George Lucas is an innovator. If anyone can create a method for three-dimensional filmmaking that is revolutionary, it is Lucas, and to paraphrase Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, I’ll be watching the developments on this project with great interest. If it looks like something I can enjoy, my butt will be in the seat for all six films. Until then, I have no choice but to remain cautiously optimistic.
Either way, we all know what the end result will be: A metric Bantha load of money deposited in the Lucasfilm coffers as fans either re-live or discover Star Wars again.