Monday, November 28, 2011

Hugo: When 3D goes wrong

I was invited out by a friend to see Hugo. He chose the time, and I didn't think to question it. Only when we got there, did I realize it was the 3D showing. I despise 3D in live-action films. It's not always a travesty, but it's never as good as either 2D live-action. 3D animation, on the other hand, can work well. How To Train Your Dragon was, in my opinion, the best case to date for 3D in film. It actually added depth to the film, and not just to the scenery, but that's something I've never seen in live-action, and have serious doubts I ever will. If I do, it will likely be in Steve Jackson's The Hobbit, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, we went in to Hugo and I settled in to watch not 1, not 2, but 3 trailers for 2D-to-3D conversion films: Star Wars, Titanic and Beauty and the Beast! This bodes ill for 2012... Then Mr. Scorsese's film began. Let me first say that the movie is wonderful. I love the story, the tour of early film history that the story revolves around, and I even loved a little bit of the 3D work when it came to flashback sequences around the makeshift movie studio. I didn't care for the security guard character. He was meant to be comic relief, but he came off as a misplaced character from another film whose sole job in Hugo was to keep the kids awake through an otherwise leisurely paced film. Ben Kingsley... what can I say? He's profound as Georges Méliès. When he breaks down and cries, he manages to pull me in and make me want to weep like no other actor I can think of.

But there was the damned 3D. It's not terrible for the full length of the film (other than the annoyance of wearing sunglasses to watch an already dark film). But there are some shots that recur over and over again that feel terribly gimmicky. The pendulum for the main clock in the train station is not as interesting, I submit, as Mr. Scorsese seems to think it is. Also, snow, dust and other motes floating right in front of my face aren't interesting. They simply make me want to look away.

Overall, I'd say Hugo is worth seeing, but not in 3D.

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