Forget Superman. You know what's faster than a speeding bullet? 3-D. Not so long ago -- May to be exact -- James Cameron was in Seoul, South Korea talking about his little technological baby known as 3-D. He predicted that everything would be 3-D in less than 25 years -- the third dimension becoming what color was to black and white -- a certified game changer.

Fast-forward a number of months, and Cameron is -- no surprise -- still raving about his beloved format. But now he's shortened the window considerably, boasting that as soon as glasses cease to be necessary for watching 3-D films, we'll watch all of our media that way. And he gives it 8-10 years.
BBC News reports that while at a Blu-Con event in Beverly Hills, Cameron stated: "Once we get to auto-stereoscopic, that's watching 3-D without glasses, it is going to be the way we watch all of our media. That's probably eight to 10 years away." This comment was part of a larger rant about post-production conversion, which the filmmaker is decidedly not a fan of. Making note of the 3-D cancellation for 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and the poor response to the 3D in 'Clash of the Titans,' the 'Avatar' filmmaker stated that conversion should only be done for classic films.

That's right -- if you're already concerned about the future of cinema, start worrying about the past too: "My personal philosophy is that post conversion should be used for one thing and one thing only -- which is to take library titles that are favorites, that are proven, and convert them into 3D -- whether it's 'Jaws' or 'ET' or 'Indiana Jones,' 'Close Encounters' ... or 'Titanic.'"

On the one hand, 3-D fans might argue that naysayers are nothing more than the stodgy folks who complained about color films, televisions, cars or any of the other notable inventions that changed how we lived. Perhaps we're too stuck in our ways to imagine the wide world once ridiculous and uncomfortable glasses are removed from the picture (which hopefully also means no more sight and eye issues with the format either).

But this push, after a very small amount of success (and by that I mean the number of successful films that are 3-D and look good in the format, not the monetary gain, which is massive thanks to 'Avatar') is over-reaching and reeks of the push for colorization. Though Cameron has said he will be the champion of the format, the man who will "personally dedicate himself to helping the industry adopt 3D without creating a consumer backlash," how he's aiming to prevent the backlash is not quite clear. All he's doing is shortening the window until there's total 3-D domination, and vowing to take our beloved classics and third-dimensionalize those as well. First stop, 'ET,' next stop, 'Psycho'? Domination simply isn't backlash-prevention.

Even though color is the norm, the industry learned fairly quickly that the masses didn't want the black and white past wiped away for color. Many spoke against the movement. When Ted Turner told the press that he thought about colorizing 'Citizen Kane,' he invoked a public outcry, and only a few weeks before he died, Orson Welles told Henry Jaglom: "Don't let Ted Turner deface my movie with his crayons."

And that's really what it's feeling like now -- that James Cameron is defacing movies with his 3-D crayons. Seeing his format as the only way, and aiming to 3-D the past as well as the present and the future -- that's not evolution, that's creative domination. It's been over a century since the first color film -- 'A Visit to the Seaside' -- was created, but we still admire and adore the black and white format. Like 2-D color, it has its place in cinematic history, as something to appreciate, not something to wipe away.

Is 3-D the new color, or an epically expensive future failure along the lines of colorization? Should Cameron start looking to limit the format's reach? Weigh in below.
PG-13 2009
Based on 35 critics

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categories Movies, Cinematical