Remember the Newton? It was a PDA intended to ‘reinvent the notion of personal computing,’ largely through a primitive tablet window, a stylus pen, and handwriting recognition software. It went on to begat other useful devices–the iPod and iPhone foremost among them–but was itself a complicated, balky mess. Some diehards did swear by it. Then again, some people like dressing up in wool long johns and re-enacting the Civil War…
The point is a technological advance may be true from a technological perspective, but unless it’s meaningful to people, it’s dubious. For years, we watched video graphics improve from boxy 8-bit representations to breathtaking vistas and reasonably convincing human movements. And our TV sets have grown to be wider and thinner, progressively adding more lines of resolution to erase the fuzziness inherent in antenna reception or VHS tape.
And then came Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is staggering visual technology. I’ve enjoyed “Finding Nemo” dozen times with my daughters over the years, but Blu-Ray let me appreciate its level of artistic detail at an entirely new level. The experience was nothing short of breathtaking. Blu-Ray images are incredibly razor-sharp.
But what works for Pixar (and Lord of the Rings and Avatar and other popcorn movies), is absolutely counter-productive in smaller, more human fare like say, The Hangover. Watching the boys galavant across the Nevada desert in hyper resolution lends this epic tale of debauchery an ordinariness. It feels like a stage play, like something you might find on Telemundo HD. The near-metallic edginess of the picture distracts from the story, and that’s not a good thing.
Combine that with the news that theater chains will be jumping their admission price as much as 10% to take advantage of the popularity of 3D and it appears that once again, hopeful advocates are placing dangerous bets on technology.
Alice in Wonderland is a spectacular visual fantasy and a charmingly imaginative story–THAT is why the movie has proven so popular. And Avatar was a singular achievement in filmmaking–a story that looks nothing like anything we’ve ever seen before.
Simply because they are 3-D doesn’t mean you can count on the same reaction to Clash of the Titans. Great movies start with great stories, not great visual effects.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79