The Hobbit & 3-D: Movie or Amusement Park Ride?

HobbitOk, a few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I was looking forward to seeing the first installment of Peter Jackson’s new trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

And now…I have seen it…and, while I don’t do full-on movie reviews, I do find that I have something to say about it, something, I think, important..

Back in November 2011, I wrote about my feelings towards High Definition and 3-D, declaring that I’d take 2-D any day, even at the risk of being labeled an old fogey.

Well, as you’ll see in the comments, that’s precisely what a close friend of mine did. It’s the price I pay for taking a stand.

But still, when The Hobbit came to town in 3-D, on a brand new IMAX screen at our brand new multiplex movie emporium, I overcame my initial resistance, reframed it not as a movie necessarily, but as some other kind of spectacle, a spectacle that would be fun, especially with my wife and 15-year old son, just for the experience of it, because, it turns out, that’s what people do for entertainment. Go figure.

Anyway, it was big, it was loud, it was a feast for the eyes, and…


Frankly, the reframing didn’t work, I REALLY wanted to see the movie, but I found the 3-D glasses terribly uncomfortable and the hyper intensity of the visual feast, amplified by the 3-D and the sheer size of the IMAX screen, to be more annoying and distracting than anything approaching an enhancement. In fact, it was SO distracting that I came away from the experience not even sure what to make of the film itself; the way the story was adapted, the quality of the acting, directing, music, etc.

I feel I need to go see it again in 2-D in order to assess those things separately, and that just sucks, especially if you consider that it cost over $50.00 for the three of us to see it the first time.

Listen, I’d just been to another movie this past Saturday, at the same new multiplex movie emporium, an ordinary 2-D movie in a state-of-the-art theater, with stadium seating and the comfiest seats I’ve ever sat in at a movie, and it was fantastic!

In my mind, the 3-D and IMAX formats combined, if they were really worth the big extra bucks, would have blown the other movie out of the water, no contest.

But, that just wasn’t the case.

So, I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty good analogy to make sense of it all, and that is to categorize these next generation movie experiences as being more like amusement park rides than a traditional cinema experience.

When you’re done with an amusement park ride, sure, it was a lot of fun, but it doesn’t tend to stick with you. You tend to go on to the next ride and the next one after that or you leave the park and go about more normal activities.

On the other hand, a good movie, or a good film to be all analog about it, has the ability to leave you feeling like you’ve just witnessed a work of art, or even feeling like you’ve been transformed by the experience.

I guess I’ll just chalk it up to an apples-to-oranges comparison, since I was given the choice to see it in 2-D if I wanted to.

I guess I’m just a cinema guy rather than an amusement park guy.

And, you know what? I’m ok with that!

One thought on “The Hobbit & 3-D: Movie or Amusement Park Ride?

  1. I hear you. My brother is all excited about going to the 3D version, for $16. Our cute comfy neighborhood theater is showing the same movie for half that price, and popcorn is always free for kids twelve and under. Guess where I’m going to see it? As a storyteller, I believe the story is the thing. Sometimes less is more.

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