The State of 3D Movies Today

by Eric Melin on February 20, 2011

in Video Reviews

Here’s my commentary on the state of 3D in movies today, from KTKA-49.

When James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters last winter with eye-popping 3D detail that seemed to literally draw you into the story, it seemed that 3D had finally arrived.

Little over a year later, 3D has become an excuse for hiking ticket prices and inflating box office grosses. Many movies—like last year’s abysmal “Clash of the Titans”—are ‘upconverted.’ This is a process where a movie filmed in 2D is suddenly upconverted to 3D at the last minute.

Next weekend, “Drive Angry 3D” arrives in theaters with Nicolas Cage hamming it up in a violent car-chase revenge picture that looks to be nothing more than a big-budget B-movie. To that, I say: Fantastic!

Like “Jackass 3D,” at least “Drive Angry” was shot with actual 3D cameras.

Here’s my take: There’s room for the kind of truly enveloping 3D that Cameron insists will drive storytelling, but there’s also room for trashy flicks like “Drive Angry” that were meant to give you cheap 3D thrills like they did in the 50s. At least these films are committed to something.

Now, if Hollywood could stop the last-minute shoddy upconversions, we wouldn’t be subjected to bad 3D—and we wouldn’t be as sick of it as we are right now.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jezza February 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Some 3D conversions can be done quite well. The problem really comes when the process is done “on the cheap”. This kind of process takes time and as witnessed with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and the third instalment of the Narnia series, the long time pays off.

What the excecutives of Clash of the Titans attempted to do was speed up the conversion process by doing it on the cheap. Alledgedly The Last Airbender also used as I refer to it now as “On the Cheap 3D”


2 Eric Melin February 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

That is an important distinction, I suppose. Do you work in the industry or have some sort of first-hand knowledge of this? ‘Narnia’ and ‘Alice’ did indeed have better 3D, I thought, than ‘Clash,’ but then the next question would be: Did the filmmakers know ahead of time that the images would be upconverted?

Framing and designing a film for 3D and getting it upconverted after filming, I suppose, is the next best thing to actually filming in 3D. I’m curious to see what ‘Drive Angry’ looks like–maybe the next differentiator would be looking at one 3D camera system vs, another.


3 Jezza February 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for asking me Eric.

I don’t work in the industry and I don’t have first hand knowledge but I don’t think it’s rocket science to remember that Tim Burton’s Alice was filmed and retrofitted into 3D long before Avatar was unleashed.

In the case Clash of the Titans they attempted to retrofit the 3D just weeks before the Clash release, AFTER Avatar was unleashed.

Retrofitting takes a very long time to get right. It can’t be done in a flash (which Clash of the Titans and alledgedly The Last Airbender tried to do).

If, and inevitably when, you saw the first trailer for Clash of the Titans, or indeed The Last Airbender, you would notice that there was no mention of 3D.

When “On the Cheap 3D” is used, it is done so by cutting corners.


Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: