Last night I had the chance to watch a prescreening of Step Up 3D. I’m a HUGE So You Think You Can Dance and performing arts junkie. Never mind Dancing With the Stars, bring on the real deal, that’s what excites me. I first got interested in the film when I saw the preview during Eclipse. I was even willing to stomach the 3D experience because of the dance nerd that I am.
I haven’t done 3D since I was in high school and my experiences with it then were frankly bad. I hated the medium with all those odd red, blue and green colors through the heavily tinted glasses. Really, I’ve had no desire to repeat the experience until everyone and their uncle started yammering about how much the technology improved and how “You just have to see Avatar”. Well I didn’t see Avatar in the theater I saw it in 2-D via a Blockbuster rental last week and was like “what’s all the fuss, it was a great movie just like this.”
So where is all this going? I know there’s this huge debate right now on whether Breaking Dawn should be 3D or not. I’ve been firmly rooted in the “For the love of all that’s holy, NO!’ camp. However, I got (and rightly so) called out on my view by someone saying “If you haven’t seen the medium how can you give an opinion”. Point well taken, so now I’d have a chance to experience the 3D on a film that was specifically shot in 3D(not a post production tweak a la Airbender) and that I was interested in.
So here are my thoughts on Step Up 3D and then what I think of Breaking Dawn potential in light of this.
- There’s a vast improvement in the picture quality. The hazy red and blue lines and the ridiculously tinted glasses are gone. I was pleasantly surprised that the glasses are actually wide enough to slip over my own glasses and not be distracting. I had kind of resigned myself to having to see a 3D blur due to the glasses issue, it wasn’t the case.
- The 3-D works at its best in the dance sequences from everything from a Parkour meets Capoeira style routine over rooftops in Brooklyn to three actual dance battles featuring a meld of Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Popping, and Krump.
- 3-D also works in what I’d call a vista type scene. The opening shot is a camera, probably on a crane, zooming in to a scene of a NYU orientation walking tour in Washington Square Park. You literally arrived into the shot under the leaves of trees and saw the benches, monuments 3D style.
- Another great usage of the 3D is specifically what I would term sheer cool effect. There is a sequence of these magnetized, mini-LED lights being thrown around and you feel like you are in a field of fireflies.
- As far as the movie itself went the storyline is predicable in the boy-screws-up-relationship-with-girl and girl-breaks-boys-heart themes. There are several groanworthy lines that sound like they came right from a daytime soap opera. However, it’s a dance movie, people aren’t so much looking at the plot as they are the dancing. With apologies to A Chorus Line “Dance 10 Writing 3”
- From So You Think You Can Dance Twitch and Legacy have roles. Twitch has more dialogue and is a decent actor. The shame is that there isn’t enough solo focus on their skills. I knew one particular moment was Legacy via his signature handwalk, but if you are not familiar with him, you’d never know as you can’t see his face. the real standouts are these Argentine twin brothers (who were actually at the theater where I was) they totally steal the show dancing and acting. They have some genius comic skills. I hope somebody sees these guys and picks them up because they are going places.
- Also a standout in the acting department is the kid who plays the lovable, wet-behind-the-ears protagonist, Moose. He has the acting chops, the dance skills, and the goofy personality. He’s endearing rather than annoying (and it would be very easy for his part to become annoying). He and the girl who he doesn’t realize he’s in love with have a routine that is a homage to Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds in Singing in the Rain that is sheer genius.
- When 3D doesn’t work, on the other hand, boy is it distracting! Here’s where it goes bad:
- Random moments when they did these reverse crowd shots to make you feel like you were in an arena had the opposite effect. It felt more like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 only without the snarky robots.
- Moments when they had it look like someone in the middle of the theater stood up and fist pumped were beyond annoying particularly the third time they used the effect. It was really distracting and totally took me out of the scene rather than made me feel a part of it.
- Close ups on faces distort, hands way down screen are fine, faces…not so much.
- Exposition scenes with people standing around and just talking look like bad pop-up book images. Instead of true 3D, I get a punched out 2D effect with really crisply defined body outlines. It really screams pop-up book and not in a good way.
- Kissing fortunately stayed 2D but 3D elements around kissing like falling slurpie droplets and flowers make the romance stupid. Seriously, first kiss under sticky slurpie droplets? What moron thought that was romantic!
So what does all this mean in my opinion for Breaking Dawn? Assuming the movie is split where Stephenie Meyer indicated that she sees the split which is Bella waking up as a vampire, here are my thoughts:
Breaking Dawn 1: No need for 3D at all. It would be a waste and a distraction. I don’t want a 3D baby-bump, blood shakes, or to be distracted on Isle Esme with 3D waves. Let’s leave well enough alone.
Breaking Dawn 2: It would work, but more as an enhancement of CGI. 3D becoming the special effect. For example, anything involving the training of the vampires and the vampires displaying their powers would work 3D. Bella opening her eyes and a true first person through Bella’s vampire eyes perspective shot 3D would work. Vista shots like playing with Renesmee in the snowy field where Irina sees her or sweeping panorama of the exteriors of the Cullen house grounds and the cottage would work. On the other hand, what you don’t want in 3D is romance anything I’m laughing just thinking about a 3D snog and PG-13 simulated shag; Renesmee anything (as I said last night on Twitter, there is a fine line between OMG she adorable and run for your life it’s coming at us!) toddling around, exposition scenes (and there’s a ton of exposition in the book) will look like bad pop-up books. So, is it cost effective to shoot in 3D for the limited way in which I’ve described? I don’t have the answer to that one. So for me the 3D works, but only in a very limited capacity or it takes you right out of the story in what is a linear romance and danger tale with some supernatural elements. If it can be kept to the specific displays of the supernatural, fine by me. Otherwise, I’m sticking to 2D.