So I was watching the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It looks like it has the potential to be good: stunning visuals, a great period setting, absolutely spot-on casting. After all, who but Leonardo DiCaprio could play Jay Gatsby?
But then, right at the end of the trailer, I saw a phrase that made my heart sink: "See it in RealD 3D."
Really? What possible reason could there be to film The Great Gatsby in 3D, other than some studio exec's cynical ploy to wring an extra four or five bucks out of the moviegoer?
3D, let's be honest, is a gimmick. In the right movie (a big, dumb action picture, for example), it can even be a fun gimmick. But a gimmick is all it is, all it ever was and all it ever will be.
And it's a gimmick that should be used sparingly. 3D worked smashingly in Avatar. In, say, Captain America, it left me headachy and wishing I'd seen the film in the regular two dimensions. In the recent 3D reissue of The Lion King, all it did for me was sully the memory of a classic movie.
The fact is that most "3D" movies aren't actually filmed in 3D, which requires expensive, specialized camera equipment; they're filmed with regular 2D cameras and "converted" in post-production. Avatar was a rare exception, and not coincidentally one of the only 3D films I've seen that actually looked good. I'm sorry, but you can't really "convert" a two-dimensional image to three dimensions and come up with a worthwhile result.
That's why those "converted" 3D films always, always, always look worse than a regular 2D movie. The picture is murky, the 3D elements are often out of focus, and the whole effect, for me at least, tends to induce a weird sort of vertigo.
Now, that's all well and good if you're watching a movie like, say, Teenage Zombies from Hell III: The Bloodying, or Michael Bay's Explosions and Robots XII: Blowed Up Real Good. Films of that type are just dumb entertainments -- and quite frankly, they probably need a gimmick to make them worth seeing at all. But come on -- The Great Gatsby needs a gimmick?
The Great Gatsby is considered, alongside Huckleberry Finn, to be the great American novel. It's indelibly linked to a time, a place, a culture. Practically everything we think we know about the Roaring 20's is really some half-remembered plot point or image from Fitzgerald's masterpiece.
What I'm saying is: The kind of folks who want to see The Great Gatsby would go see it without the 3D. And the kind of folks who won't go see a movie that's not in 3D ... well, I kind of doubt The Great Gatsby would appeal to them, anyway. Not enough explosions or robots.