The Reel: 3-D movies: less gimmick, more gimme

Ben Conniff

With Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” garnering praise for its effective use of 3-D technology, it calls to mind how far the medium has come in terms of quality.

The difference between films with strong 3-D elements, like “Avatar” and “Life of Pi,” and films with weaker elements, such as “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Wrath of the Titans,” are a matter of shooting with 3-D cameras versus post-production conversion.

3-D cameras often make for a clearer, more natural picture, while converting sometimes makes things harder to see.

The cloudy picture brings on migraine headaches and when I remove those silly, hipster-wannabe glasses, I find that the image doesn’t look that different from standard presentation.

In the end, I’ve just spent $14 instead of $10 on a movie that wasn’t even that good to begin with.

That being said, the cheap conversion option took a big step forward this past summer.

Earlier this year, my high school English teacher tried to sell me on seeing “The Great Gatsby” in 3-D, saying the party scenes popped.

I saw no reason why the 2-D to 3-D converted “Gatsby” absolutely had to be seen in 3-D, but I decided to give it a shot, and I was surprised.

Many of the film’s biggest set pieces, including the parties, looked phenomenal and put the audience right in the middle of the rip-roaring Jazz Age in New York.

In fact, I think I recall some audience members doing the Charleston in the aisle…

After “Gatsby,” I avoided 3-D for the rest of the season because one strong outing does not make up for years of overpriced tickets and hackneyed results.

But “Gatsby” did succeed in one thing — it made me confident in the future of the medium.

That’s why I’m so eager to check out “Gravity,” which The Hollywood Reporter places as a converted film just like “Gatsby.”

Critics from Entertainment Weekly and The Times praise the conversion, saying the extra dimension places the audience right alongside the actors and it feels as if your stationary theater seats have been turned into a theme park ride.

Of the 39 reviews currently on Rotten Tomatoes, none of the critics have had anything negative to say about the use of 3-D in “Gravity.”

To hear such high praise for a converted film makes me confident that 3-D has a brighter future at the movies.