This is not a review of the new Marvel superhero film, Thor.
This article is not about the charismatic performances Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleton give in the movie. It’s not about how generic & predictable the film’s plot is. It’s not about the clunky allusions to the upcoming superhero teamup, The Avengers (or Marvel’s The Avengers – its official, even clunkier title). I am clarifying all this before hand so that the discussion doesn’t veer off-course.
This article is about the film’s 3D. Thor, like many other Hollywood tentpoles right now, has been released with an extra dimension in theaters. And like many other Hollywood tentpoles right now, it was shot in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production. As anyone who sat through the Clash of the Titans remake will tell you, that can be a downright nightmarish viewer experience.
But this wasn’t like that, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director Kenneth Branagh said. They weren’t slapping on 3D at the tail-end of production, they were incorporating its scope right from the start. Action sequences would be visualized with 3D in mind and special effects would be conceived & executed similarly too. In the words of Feige, “an unprecedented amount of time” would be devoted to the conversion process.
Well, having seen the film & pondered over it for a few days, I have reached a conclusion: If a conversion done immaculately results in 3D as pointless & debilitative as this, then I won’t be rushing out to pay the 3D surcharge anytime soon.
No matter what you thought of the film, you can’t deny that Thor was colorful. The film has bright & beautiful sets, costumes, production design and cinematography. Since a large part of the screenplay is set in Asgard, we get scenes in locations like Odin’s Throne Room, the Rainbow Bridge and more – all exquisitely designed & fascinating to watch (for me, atleast). Alas, the 3D conversion lays waste to all that. Environments have a muted & blurry feel to them. Iridescent surroundings have the color wrenched from them by 3D glasses, which by their very nature darken the image. Maybe all these negative aspects could have been forgiven if the 3D actually did something good. But it doesn’t. The extra dimension doesn’t add anything to the film. It doesn’t enhance immersion into the film’s universe, it doesn’t improve the action and it doesn’t do anything that 2D couldn’t have done just as well (or better).
The trait of 3D making things darker, blurrier & harder-to-follow reaches its zenith (or nadir, depending on your point-of-view) in a setpiece in the first act of the film. Said setpiece takes places on Jotunheim, a frosty & dreary ice-planet (or realm, whatever). Our protagonists are wearing dark clothes, the Frost Giants (the other party in the fight) are bluish-grey and the background is such that it friend is virtually indistinguishable from foe. What follows is a mess, to be frank, wherein it’s difficult to completely make out what’s going on. You just have to satisfy yourself with the occasional shots of clarity. And as a result, proceedings don’t hold any weight to them (or any importance for us).
Thor isn’t the first big-budget blockbuster to get 3Dified for making some quick bucks at the box-office. And looking at the upcoming slate of films headed our way, it certainly won’t be the last. What I am sure about, though, is that I am going to go out of my way to avoid seeing post-converted films in 3D (and I’m having second thoughts about films shot in 3D too). And the next time I read some marketing-friendly material from a producer or director on how 3D isn’t just a cash-grab for them, I’ll remember what Martin Campbell (director of Warner Bros’ upcoming Green Lantern – also 3Dified) said to Total Film recently -
There was little talk of 3D when we started. It does nothing for me… And [with] all these post-3D films you get a sense that they are just cashing in on the ticket price.
Well said, sir. And thank you for being so honest.
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