Monday, January 24, 2011

Flogging a dead horse - in 3D!

James Cameron announced via EW today that he's in the process of writing the next two Avatar films. At the moment, they're due out at Christmas-time of 2014 and 2015.

My first reaction, I have to admit, was apprehension. On the whole, I trust James Cameron to deliver an entertaining movie, but the last time someone rushed out two sequels at once to cash in on the franchise, we ended up with The Matrix: Revolutions and Reloaded.

I would say 'the less said about those two movies, the better', except that I have so much to say about them I'm going to have to save it for a separate post. In short, they were huge disappointments with only enough real story for about a movie and a quarter and padded out with over-long fight sequences.

In a separate announcement, positively dripping in irony given the context, Keanu Reeves has confirmed that there are two more Matrix sequels in development.

And, apparently, the Wachowski Brothers have been talking to James Cameron about the use of 3D technology, which already tells me the sequels will be more about the 3D visual flash-bang than they will be about the story. And that is a crying shame, because the genius of the first movie was not only in its revolutionary style, but also in its brilliant script.

Not to mention that I really don't like 3D. To me, there's just no point. My brain does an excellent job of translating the regular 2D image into a 3D world all on its own. And Roger Ebert's blog today had a fascinating article written by Walter Murch, a leading film editor and sound designer - a man who should know about these things - explaining that 3D actually gets in the way of a viewer climbing inside the movie.
"3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain "perspective" relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are "in" the picture in a kind of dreamlike "spaceless" space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with."
So James Cameron and the Wachowski Brothers are going to spend the next three to five years slaving over movies whose very format ensures that they can never possibly be as good as the first Matrix movie. And the format will absorb so much of their attention that the story will become secondary.

I hope to the entertainment gods that I'm wrong. Despite the fact that Avatar was completely derivative, despite the digital whiz-bangery, it was still an entertaining movie. And it's possible that the Wachowski Brothers learned from the reception the sequels got that the story should come first, as it did with The Matrix.

But I'm not holding my breath.

I'd be curious to hear what others think about this. The Matrix sequels, Avatar, 3D, anything. It's your turn to weigh in.

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