Seven Surprising Movies That Were Released in 3D - VRGyani News and Media

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Seven Surprising Movies That Were Released in 3D

Though, today, digital 3D has a significantly subdued presence in the cinema landscape, there was a period in the late 2000s and early 2010s where it seemed like digital 3D was everywhere. Nearly every major movie that was aiming to make some kind of splash at the box office was given a digital 3D presentation, especially once Avatar became a box office phenomenon largely based on its revolutionary use of digital 3D. Given this success, it was no surpise to see that, for a period of time, most superhero movies and animated family films were released in 3D.

Although the format has become less popular, that period of #D-mania meant that some unexpected titles were released as a 3D experience. Maybe it’s because of the genres they inhabit or the directors in charge of the individual films or even just the way these motion pictures were released. Whatever the reasoning, it’s baffling to look back on these seven movies and realize that they were all given the digital 3D treatment, in pursuit of the lightning in a bottle success of Avatar.

RELATED: James Cameron Explains Why the New ‘Avatar’ Movies Won’t Be in High Frame Rate

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods was a darkly humorous take on classic horror fare that found thoughtful subversions of typical horror film motifs. But one thing it didn’t subvert was 3D, a domain that’s long been a go-to format for horror films. Unfortunately, The Cabin in the Woods was not designed to tweak the nose of horror movies using 3D as an easy way to make money. Instead, it was announced in early 2010 that the film would be converted into the format in post-production. This turned out to be a poor move, as the project just wasn’t designed for 3D, especially in terms of lighting.

The cinematography and nighttime setting of The Cabin in the Woods make use of dim surroundings, which wouldn’t be a problem to watch on a normal 2D projector. But thanks to digital 3D screenings inherently dimming the image of a movie, The Cabin in the Woods was reduced to being a murky visual experience that earned the scorn of sites like CNET. Rather than using 3D for more thoughtful subversive means, The Cabin in the Woods just used ill-suited digital 3D technology to dilute its imagery.

Step Up 3

Sure, lots of later entries in franchises have adopted the 3D format for marketing purposes, but how many of them were part of a series of dance movies? Released to theaters as Step Up 3D, in August 2010, the film was no Clash of the Titans where a 2D movie got hastily rushed into the 3D format. Step Up 3D was filmed in the format and the big dance-filled set pieces were conceived to take advantage of this new shooting style. All that preparation still doesn’t make the concept of a dance movie projected in digital 3D any less puzzling, though, since this genre has largely avoided strutting over to this extra dimension. There's a reason for that. While the dances scenes in Step Up 3 did feature a lot of pizzaz flying out at the audience, the stretches focused on the melodramatic personal lives of the main characters didn't utilize this format at all. The result was an erratic use of 3D that failed to make a case for the dance movie genre having a permanent place in this format. Going down the 3D route didn’t help Step Up 3 at the domestic box office, but it did end up foreshadowing director Jon M. Chu’s future filmmaking prospects. He would continue to work in the domain of digital 3D for subsequent projects like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

My Soul to Take

Wes Craven’s penultimate movie, My Soul to Take, has largely been forgotten by pop culture at large. However, it was notable for being the filmmaker’s sole foray into the world of digital 3D filmmaking. It was a peculiar choice to mark the occasion, though, since, for one thing, My Soul to Take wasn’t conceived to be shown in 3D. It was converted into the extra dimension late into post-production. Most troublingly, much of the film takes place at night, and minimally lit backdrops are not friendly to digital 3D projection, as we know from The Cabin in The Woods. On top of all that, My Soul to Take is a grimmer kind of horror fare, it’s not the sort of schlocky scary film that pops things out at the audience constantly to justify the 3D ticket price tag. While the concept of an auteur like Wes Craven utilizing the 3D format is intriguing, the execution of My Soul to Take in the medium left much to be desired.

Dolphin Tale

Family movies were all the rage at the height of the digital 3D boom. After all, families buy multiple tickets to see movies and with the price surcharges on 3D screenings, that can add up to a lot of extra coins for studio executives. Most of these were computer-animated movies full of massive spectacle. But a big exception came from the 2011 feature Dolphin Tale, a kid’s movie in the vein of Free Willy about an aquarium rescuing a dolphin with a busted tail. It’s easy to see why this story looked perfect for an inspirational family movie, but, it’s not as clear as to why the film needed to be told in digital 3D.

Few scenes in Dolphin Tale get enhanced by the extra depth that 3D offers, while the naturally lowkey nature of the film's events means it’ll be easy for moviegoers to forget they’re even watching something in 3D. Gimmicky moments featuring characters or props dangling off the screen to exploit the presence of 3D are not at the forefront of this movie. The only logical reason for it being projected in this format is to make sure Warner Bros. executives could squeeze extra dollars out of parents. Not every movie is suited for 3D and Dolphin Tale is definitely one that should’ve been left to swim in 2D waters.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

An action movie sequel like Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning being shown in 3D is no shocker. But how many action movie sequels in 3D get released straight to home video, where it’s much more difficult (though not impossible) to replicate the 3D experience? But that’s just what happened to Day of Reckoning, which only got a tiny theatrical presence in North America in December 2012 after a whole month of being available on premium-video-on-demand. 3D wasn’t even used to bolster its theatrical run internationally for massive markets like China as Day of Reckoning only got released theatrically in a handful of smaller territories at the tail end of 2012. The announcement that Day of Reckoning would get released in 3D came just five months after Avatar set the box office on fire, making this yet another film that was trying to ride James Cameron’s coattails. Considering its predecessor, Universal Soldier: Regeneration, went straight to home video, though, it’s still puzzling to consider why Day of Reckoning decided to go the 3D route, even with all the success of Avatar.

The Great Gatsby

Director Baz Luhrmann has become so well-known for his visual opulence that it was inevitable that he’d do a movie in digital 3D. After all, his projects are already bursting with so much energetic imagery, why not also have it spill off of the screen? The puzzling choice Luhrman made as his inaugural exploration of digital 3D was The Great Gatsby. While the auteur’s vision of Jay Gatsby’s elaborate parties were certainly full of extravagance, they’re also not the kind of events that make extraordinary use of the depth of space that 3D provides. Meanwhile, much of the film is dialogue-driven exchanges in lavish rooms and establishments, not exactly the kind of interactions best suited for this medium. While his wall-to-wall musical like Moulin Rouge might have made sense in the digital 3D format, The Great Gatsby is ultimately an ambitious but disappointingly inappropriate fit for the third dimension.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Sure, 3D can sometimes work for horror movies, but not every scary film is crying out for that extra dimension. Case in point: found footage movies. These films are meant to evoke the experience of finding a random tape or memory card and just watching what’s on it. How many home videos or ramshackle indie movies have the money to film things in 3D. Rather than enhancing the experience, capturing found footage movies in digital 3D disrupts the audeince's engagement with the film. This was the problem faced by Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the first film in the franchise to utilize digital 3D. While its advertisements promised that the presence of 3D would take viewers “closer” to demonic figures than ever before, the filming style of these Paranormal Activity installments worked against the digital 3D format. The disorienting found footage format could make certain scenes difficult to follow on their own, let alone trying to apply 3D technology whilst maintaing a grainy and shaky camera effect. Meanwhile, more stable examples of camerawork leaned on moments evocative of the slow-burn scares of the preceding Paranormal Activity movies rather than concepts that could only be properly realized through the added third dimension. There's no depth in either the frights or the images on the screen. The resulting feature was neither fish nor fowl, unable to satisfy either 3D or Paranormal Activity devotees.

KEEP READING: 'Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin' Trailer Reveals a Terrifying New Installment in the Found-Footage Franchise



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