Will the winter of 2011 turn out to be the summer of 1954 for digital 3-D? There’s an impressive line-up of stereoscopic features ready for the upcoming holiday season, including several from name directors: Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” Steven Spielberg’s “Adventures of Tintin,” George Miller’s “Happy Feet 2,” Wim Wenders’s “Pina.” Personally, I’m most looking forward to Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers,” which opens on October 21 — Anderson being one of the last fully committed genre filmmakers in captivity, as well as a man with a sharp eye for staging action in depth (“Resident Evil: Afterlife”).
But will audiences still be receptive (and willing to pay the 3-D surcharge) after this summer’s migraine-inducing plague of hasty 2-D to 3-D conversions (“Thor,” “Green Lantern,” “Captain America,” “Conan the Barbarian”) — agony further exacerbated by the native 3-D efforts of Michael Bay (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”)?
The 50s 3-D boom collapsed as the combined result of too many crummy movies, viewer discomfort and balky technology. What different this time is that the technology is far less cumbersome and is now making its way to your living room, thanks to the new generation of active-shutter displays and Blu-ray 3-D players. In some ways, digital 3-D is more impressive at home than it is in a theatrical environment. The active-shutter glasses yield a brighter, sharper image, with far less ghosting than the polarized glasses used in most theaters, and on some Blu-ray players you can adjust the parallax to suit your own eyeballs and viewing conditions. In this week’s New York Times column, I look at some of the titles currently available for home viewing in 3-D — harbingers of a thrilling stereoscopic future, or soon-to-be-quaint relics of another passing fad?
As always, the last word belongs to Count Floyd: