Glasses, ref!

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Thor is one of the better Marvel comics adaptations, in that it’s directed by someone with a more … let’s say it … Shakespearean take on the source material – Kenneth Branagh – and it’s faithful enough to the original comic to keep the fanboys onboard. I think if it has a trump card it’s the clever way it expects you to take the portentous, echoey Norse mythology scenes seriously, and then expects you to giggle at the fish-out-of-water scenes down on Earth, when Thor is stripped of his powers and banished to New Mexico in order to fall in love with Natalie Portman. Such mood-swings are dangerous in a big, fat film like Thor, But somehow, Branagh and his team of screenwriters pull this off. It’s almost two films for the price of one. Chris Hemsworth, an Australian beefcake whom I understand was in Home & Away, fills out the role of Thor very well, both physically (he’s like two Jamie Bambers squashed together) and in terms of the light comedy.

It’s a set-up story, with lots of set-up to set up – cue: portentous voiceover from Anthony Hopkins’ Odin – and it carefully tees up The Avengers, which is coming soon to a cinema near you. But for me, it was ruined. By the 3D.

I have nothing against 3D per se. It enhances Pixar movies. And in Pina it finds its true calling: bringing clarity and depth to physical artforms. But being chucked at every new blockbuster, as it now is, can only devalue it as a gimmick. Apparently the non-CGI footage in Thor was shot in 2D, and put through the machine in post-production. This, I think I’m right in saying, is what happened with Clash Of The Titans and I’m sure countless others leaping pathetically onto the bandwagon. I hate the way it’s becoming a default setting for noisy action movies. In fact, I admire any big blockbuster that feels confident enough in its own 2D merits to put itself out there naked, as it were. The 3D in Tron: Legacy was horrible, and detracted from the film. And I had the same demoralising feeling when I watched Thor, at the huge Odeon Leicester Square no less. The glasses were fresh from the packet, so my bad time wasn’t as a result of smeary lenses. It was the 3D itself: murky and blurry, and impossible to follow during fast-cut action sequences. Unlike in Pina, it subtracted clarity and depth. Result.

Why would a studio do this to its own product? It’s vandalism. I don’t much like putting on eyewear in a cinema, but when the 3D is good, you are transported away from the plastic wrapped round your head. I am told that 10% of us have a minor eye defect that means we can’t “translate” modern 3D anyway. I’m not one of those people, as I can appreciate the effect; I just don’t like it. Millions of dollars will have been spent creating the parallel fantasy universe of Asgard for Thor, but it is a dark world, and dark worlds become muddy and indistinct through 3D specs. Subtle effects still work well, such as floating fragments of ash or snow. (The best bit of Avatar in 3D was when the flecks of ash came down after they blew up a tree. The rest … well, I could take it or leave it. Actually, I saw Avatar in 2D on Sky Movies: it gained nothing from the third dimension except the ability to deceive with smoke and mirrors; in 2D it was just a so-so jungle movie.)

Can we just stop this now, then, please? Thor is not a bad movie. It’s actually a “solid” three-stars. But I have yet to see it in a form I can truly appreciate it in. Better wait for it to come on telly, then.

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7 thoughts on “Glasses, ref!

  1. I went to see it in 2D, and was impressed. It seemed a particular shame to murk it up when, as you say, they’ve put so much effort into making Asgard look like a detailed other world. Knocked the pomp and ceremony of Friday’s royal bash into a cocked hat.

    The benefit of this rubbish post-production gluing-on of 3D is that you don’t keep going ‘well, that bit was meant to fly out the screen’ when viewing in 2D. Thus highlighting how pointless it is, really.

    If you saw it for reviewing purposes, do you have to go for the 3D version?

    • The screening I went to was in 3D, because the film company are very proud of the 3D, and because most people will see it that way. Also, let’s not forget, 3D is meant to attract people to cinemas. Whether it does or not, nobody yet knows. I certainly puts me off. But I am not the target demographic. I am the target demographic for Meek’s Cutoff, probably.

  2. Agreed.

    Everyone knows 3D is a means for the film company to make an extra £2-3 per movie.

    I did like the 3D in Avatar but that was a bright, colourful fantastical movie and was a good fit with all the flying scenes.

    For me the novelty has worn off ..what next…The Piano 3D?!

  3. I never watch 3D films as my wife can only see out of one eye, so it’s a bit pointless, as she can’t enjoy it. Also I can’t imagine watching something for 90-120 minutes without getting a massive headache! I bought a couple of 3D comics in the 1980s, and believe me, they were the perfect recipe for a migraine! It’s an amusing novelty, but I don’t really think it adds anything of value to the storytelling. If I want 3D, I’ll go to a live theatre performance.

  4. Couldn’t agree more – enjoyed the film but having to watch it through cheap sunglasses was hugely distracting. If anything 3D screenings are driving me away from the cinema rather than into it – and my local Picturehouse doesn’t have enough screens to show the 2D version.
    I won’t feel like I’ve really watched Thor until I see it either on disc or Sky Movies in glorious 2D

  5. Completely agree. 3d is best suited to longer, static shots where your eyes can adjust to the scene and watch the action taking place. Fast edits and lots of movements just results in headaches. I don’t mind 3d but films need to be both shot and edited differently to 2d. I’m not sure many have been yet.

  6. I love 3D. For certain types of games on my PC.

    With films though I can take it or leave it, leaning strongly towards the leaving it side. It works great with animated films but generally does feel tacked on to everything else.

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