REVIEW: Step Up 3

4 08 2010

While base ticket prices at my favorite theater have slowly become more and more expensive, the 3D premium price has stayed at a constant $3.  Yet in the past few weeks, they have raised that price to $4 per ticket.  For some movies, I’m willing to pay that premium on top of the exorbitant ticket.  For movies like “Step Up 3,” however, I’d be willing to pay just that $4 premium.

This is a movie that falls perfectly into a category I like to call “bearably bad.”  It is a complete joke, something that should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen a trailer or realized it to be an ugly stepchild threequel to its legitimate predecessor.  Everything about the movie oozes corniness.  But what makes it bad is what makes it so terribly good.

There’s a certain mindset that you have to enter when you see a movie like “Step Up 3” – or at least that you should enter if you want to get any sort of enjoyment out of it.  You have to forget that actors are supposed to act.  For the movie, they just need to look good and dance well.  How else could a former Abercrombie model get a lead?

You will also need to forget how people talk in the real world.  Every other line offers you a chance to laugh at the ridiculousness of the movie.  Finally, you will have to forget what a real movie is like, having to accept the string of dialogue that passes for a plot, incoherently leading to dance competition after dance competition.  And why should you care?  If you watch this movie to be blown away by its narrative power, you need serious help.

As for the dancing, which is the movie’s main attraction, it’s entertaining enough.  There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing or much more special than videos you can find on YouTube.  But you have to see it in 3D, right?  Don’t bite the Hollywood marketing bait; see dancing in real 3D and go find them exhibiting their skills in studios or on the streets.  C /





Random Factoid #318

11 06 2010

Well, isn’t this disgusting.

Good Houskeeping tested 3D glasses at theaters in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and found that NOT ONE PAIR was sterile.  How gross is that?!  The study reports:

“3D glasses given out at cinemas were found to be contaminated with bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis, skin infections, food poisoning, or even sepsis or pneumonia…”

That’s great, I really wanted a pneumonia when I went to see “Shrek Forever After” in 3D.  For those in need of comfort, listen to the end of the sentence above:

“…but docs say that the germs found are no more threatening than what you find on the arm rest, box of popcorn, or movie seats.”

So as much as I would love to use this as another point against 3D or an excuse to turn people away, I really can’t.  Because if I didn’t start bringing plastic covers for the seats or wearing plastic gloves to handle concession items, it would be incredibly hypocritical.  But there’s definitely something disconcerting about knowing the glasses that you put close to your eyes can have such disgusting bacteria on them when they could be clean!





Random Factoid #281

5 05 2010

Following a series of linked posts the other day, I wound up at this interesting USA Today article: “What happens to those 3D glasses after Avatar?”

Here’s an excerpt, featuring some pretty astounding statistics:

Laid end-to-end, the 3-D glasses worn by avid Avatar-goers since the blockbuster movie opened 46 days ago would reach from Los Angeles to Angmagssalik, Greenland — about 3,987 miles.

That’s a whole lot of plastic. With about 75% of people who see Avatar seeing it in 3-D, it works out to about 42.1 million pairs of glasses worn, or 935,834 a day.

Four companies provide 3-D systems for showing the wildly popular sci-fi epic in the USA: Dolby Laboratories, IMAX, Real-D and XpanD.

Each has a recycling program in place, for hygiene and to keep what would otherwise be a mountain of plastic out of landfill.

Real-D has the lion’s share of 3-D projection systems in the USA, accounting for at least 700,000 3-D glasses used a day. It distributes cardboard containers so movie-goers can recycle their glasses. According to Real-D’s Rick Heineman, the glasses are shipped to a cleaning facility near Los Angeles, where they’re sanitized, checked for defects, repackaged and shipped out.

Real-D provides the glasses for most of (if not all of) the 3D movies I see.  I must say, their cleaning facility is slacking.  When I went to see “How to Train Your Dragon,” there was a humongous scratch on my lens!  If you know me or have read any factoids, then you can probably guess this did not make me happy.  Eventually, I was able to get past the scratch and enjoy the movie.  But if that scratch had been on the lens during “Clash of the Titans,” I might not have been so kind.

I have a good pair of 3D glasses hanging from the karaoke machine in my room.  Maybe I ought to keep them in my car and take them to all 3D movies I see.  Can’t trust Real-D anymore.





FEATURE: More Reflections on “Avatar”

22 04 2010

With the release of “Avatar” on Blu-Ray and DVD today, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the impact and legacy of the biggest movie of our time.

First of all, let’s go back to the movie itself.  Back in December (after seeing it at the earliest IMAX 3D showing on opening day), I gave it a solid “A.” I saw it again at the end of March, and I still stand by that rating.  Here’s some of what I said then:

”Avatar” is breathtaking moviemaking at its finest, with astonishing visuals that are designed to do more than just floor you.  They engulf you and transport you to Pandora, a land of untold beauty complete with its own indigenous people, language, and wildlife, for an exhilarating ride and fascinating experience.

“Avatar” isn’t just a movie; it is a full-scale experience that your visual cortex will never forget.  If it is the future of cinema remains yet to be seen, but it will most certainly usher in a widespread acceptance of the motion capture technology.  The movie also secures its fearless helmer a place among cinema’s greatest pioneers, and it could even reinforce his self-bestowed “king of the world” title.

“Avatar” is one of very few movies of the past decades that deserves to be called an epic.  Everything is bigger and grander than we have ever experienced before in a science-fiction or action movie.  It is a tremendously ambitious movie, and director James Cameron gives his vision every tool to succeed.  Whether you like the final product is up to you, but it’s pretty hard to deny that the movie is of epic proportions.

I think that the mere size of the movie has led to some massive exaggerations of opinions.  Normal people who didn’t absolutely love “Avatar” immediately say they hated it, and if they did love the movie, it’s their all-time favorite.  The same kind of feelings spread into awards talk too; people were either completely behind “Avatar” winning Best picture or vehemently opposed.  Very few people seem to take moderate, or even less extreme, stances.  My two cents here: it’s fine to just like “Avatar” rather than love it or loathe it.  There is not a problem with just kicking back in your theater chair and being transported; you don’t have to be wowed or disenchanted.

I do have to share the most extreme reaction to the movie that I heard of – and this is not a joke.  There is a syndrome called “Avatar Blues” that psychologists are actually studying.  Large numbers of people flocked to the Internet to discuss the depression that they felt after seeing “Avatar.”  It may not be what you think, though.

Ever since I went to see “Avatar,” I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it.  I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in “Avatar. (posted by “Mike” on an Internet forum)

You might not have been so blown away by the world of “Avatar” that you felt clinically depressed, but you had to have felt something.  Even if the story wasn’t your cup of tea, it’s hard not to have been struck by how intricately the movie was put together.  When I saw it a second time, I was floored by the impeccable attention to detail and just how thorough the world of Pandora was designed.

“Avatar” also brought consciousness of 3D and IMAX to a greater multitude, many of whom had never experienced either beforehand.  The movie absolutely blew away what we thought we could experience in the two mediums, and it has single-handedly been the catalyst for much of 2010’s discussions.  Because of the smashing success of “Avatar,” every theater owner is rushing to up his 3D theater count.  Our wallets have already begun to feel the pain from these additions with the soaring price of 3D tickets.  In addition, every studio is rushing to shoot their next big movie in 3D (acceptable) or convert their already complete movie into an extra dimension (unacceptable).  James Cameron has now become the wise owl in the tree on the matter, offering cautionary words to the future of the rapidly growing 3D market:

I draw a distinct line in the sand between films where you have no choice — “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Indiana Jones”, James Bond movies, “Terminator 2” — I would love to see all those films in 3-D and the only way to do that short of having a time machine, is to convert them. Now, on the other hand, if you’ve got a movie that’s coming out in seven weeks and you wake up one day with a wind bubble saying, I want to turn it into 3-D, that’s probably a bad idea. “Clash of the Titans,” even though it made some money, has set off this controversy that we’re going to piss in the soup of this growing 3-D market. If you want to charge a premium ticket price you have to give people a premium experience. So I’m against slapdash conversion. And I’m against anyone who’s making a major tentpole movie whether it’s a new Spider-Man film or a new Pirates of the Caribbean film and they want to release it in 3-D but they don’t want to take the time and the energy to shoot it in 3-D. Again, they’re charging the audience for something that they’re not delivering.

And what about all that money it made?  Simply put, “Avatar” is the highest-grossing movie ever because it was more than a movie; it was a true cinematic event.  It was a movie that returned the urgency to take the whole family to the theater, and people were willing to spend the extra money to enhance their experience.  Once everyone saw the movie, they knew that watching the DVD or Blu-Ray simply wasn’t going to thrill them in the same way.  So they went back to theater and saw it one or two times more.  How else do you explain the movie’s opening only counting for 10% percent of its total revenue?  How else do you explain the minuscule weekend attendance drops?  How else do you explain the fact that “Avatar” made more money in its second through seventh weekends than any other movie made in the same frames?  Perhaps most telling of all, how else do you explain that 124 days after its first day in release and the day it is released on video, it is STILL in the top 12 at the box office?  You can’t deny it; “Avatar” is simply a phenomenon.

And if you think I’m finished now, that was just the impact of “Avatar.”  Now moving on to the legacy…

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REVIEW: Clash of the Titans

3 04 2010

It’s a pretty rare feeling for me to walk out of a theater feeling scammed.  But as I pitched my 3D glasses in the eco-friendly disposal boxes outside my theater, that’s exactly how I felt.

After seeing the success of “Avatar” early this year, Warner Bros. decided to add an extra dimension to the release of “Clash of the Titans.”  Usually, 3D adds to the wow factor of a movie and enhances the experience.  This, as moviegoers are now beginning to learn, also enhances the ticket prices – and the more we go, the higher they climb.

But the only thing that 3D enhanced in my viewing of “Clash of the Titans” was my disappointment and indignation.  I like the technology, and I know that great filmmakers will utilize to create some truly incredible cinema.  But here, we see 3D at its worst.  When it is just arbitrarily added to any movie, then it truly becomes a boondoggle and a meaningless accessory.

It is now the responsibility of the American moviegoer to stop 3D from becoming an arbitrary embellishment, and it has to start here.  If studios and theater goers think that we are so smitten by 3D, then they will continue to take advantage of us.  Think a movie like “Clash of the Titans” being retooled for 3D is bad?  At this rate, we will have “Precious 2” playing in 3D in the coming years.  That idea doesn’t sound all that crazy to a studio executive with you $4 premium ticket price lining his pocket.

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Random Factoid #68

4 10 2009

3D glasses

3D glasses hurt my eyes.  I think its cool to watch a movie in 3D, but I have to take off the glasses every 20 minutes or so and rub my eyes.  Every once in a while, they will even give me a headache.

I sound like an old man with my health problems, I know.  But I actually have 20/20 vision according to my doctor, so there’s nothing wrong with my eyes.

Do you feel the same way?  Do the 3D glasses bring some unintended side effects of moviewatching?  Did they cause a particularly painful experience for you?  Or am I just a lone wolf here?  COMMENT and let me know!

(NOTE: This post was inspired by a feature I saw on Entertainment Weekly today.  It’s only a few short paragraphs long, so take the time to read it.  WordPress gives me the powers of Big Brother when it comes to monitoring your activity on this site, so I can see if you clicked it or not.  Please do.  I even went to the trouble of putting a picture on the factoid…that’s something I haven’t done since #15, if I recall correctly.)