The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Tag Archives: hollywood

Hollywood into Darkness: Star Trek, 3D and the potential default shift in cinema viewing

Today, I found out my local, erm.. “big corporate multiplex cinema chain” isn’t going to be showing the 2D print (oh, how archaic) of Star Trek into Darkness when it’s released in a couple of weeks and that 3D will be the only option they’re providing. I’d heard about other cinemas doing this a couple of weeks back, but I assumed “as release gets closer, more 2D showings will appear, Paramount just want to prioritise the 3D version for advance sales” Now, I’m finding this isn’t the case, and that priority has left any other version lost in the mud. Now, this worries me because there is absolutely no reason for them to do this.

See, Star Trek is a big name franchise, JJ Abrams is a big name director, and whilst the cast aren’t exactly “Tom Cruise” in terms of household names, they have at least some power in getting the audience to see it based on that, (esp. w/ the casting of Cumberbatch who is the actor of the moment). it’s impossible to predict the success of a movie, but Star Trek follows the “Hollywood formula” pretty closely that it’s a safe bet, so why are they essentially jeopardising their own movie?

So, what’s the problem with only doing 3D showings? Sure, they cost more to go see, therefore giving the studios a slightly bigger return, but Avatar aside, they are still not as popular 2D showings, which remain the default since that film of the train parking at a station that scared half the room of patrons in the 1800s (and ironically did a better job at showing depth then most 3D movies). Most movies still predominantely get their money from 2D screenings, although obviously 3D is still relatively popular and accesible to the casual cinema goer.

Which is fine, but there is still a large amount of people who find 3D uncomfortable, can’t see 3D, dislike or find the effect distracting or have to wear two pairs of glasses to watch the movie, which not only looks silly, but stops them fitting on your face and you have to constantly be distracted from the action by sliding them back up. Not to mention that most 3D movies are converted in post production gives it less of feeling of immersion and more of a feeling of a cash cow gimmick.

And allowing that cash cow gimmick be the default option is therefore alienating a good chunk of your potential audience. Star Trek is a film that inevitably will make money, but it will make considerably less because it’s not as accessible. Maybe that’s the plan though, and they’re hoping for a resurgence through home release in 5 or so months time.

A similar thing happened to Dredd, one of the more surprisingly solid movies of last year. Both movies were made with the ultimatum of “This has to be in 3D” (assuming because of the increased ticket prices?) and both movies have very limited 2D screenings (at least in Britain)  Dredd did not do well at the box office, performing lower than expected. It did make a lot more money on DVD/Blu-Ray though, and I think partly down to it being more accesible to people. I never saw it at the cinema because I have trouble with 3D movies, but I bought the DVD the day of release because I wanted to see it.

And Star Trek is doing a similar thing, as I’ve said a few times, it’s going to be successful in some capacity (whether it’ll be “Hollywood succesful” is anyones guess), but this is a huge gamble and one that could either kill the series, or shift the default towards 3D for films in the future, which as a fan of cinema, I do not think would be a positive move. 3D will make them money on opening weekend, but without the big 2D release to steady it, will it be enough?

It’s possible that this is just early worrying and by release date 2D screenings pop up all over the shop, but it just makes me think this is a trend that’s just going to get worse. I’m fortunate in that I’ve a cinema that is showing a 2D version (at double price to my usual haunt though??) but some won’t have that luxury and will be forced to wait till DVD release day, which to me, isn’t really fair.

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Wrath of the Titans

You won't feel the wrath, you might feel boredom though...

Confession time. I’ve not seen Clash of The Titans, the 2010 poster-boy for post-production conversion 3D with Greek gods and that bloke from Avatar, usually that term’s reserved for absolute movie classics like Citizen Kane, but Clash Of The Titans was a classic…right? Oh, apparently it was a mess and was a pretty terrible movie, but clearly enough people didn’t get that message and a sequel was made. So, have the film-makers learned from their mistakes? Well, it’s kind of hard when Warner Bros replaces them for budgetary reasons…

Doing the research that I usually do for a review, I found out that a lot of the creative team behind the first one were sacked for cheaper alternatives, (it was developed with a smaller budget than the first) at the expense of quality. Louis Leteerier, the original director, was replaced by Jonathon Liebsman, who directed classics such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”, “Battle: LA” and he’s taking the helm of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot…so basically, judging on the quality of those, that movie’s screwed. The long and short of it is that I’m saying his track record isn’t particularly great, so will Wrath of the Titans join that list of “It’s not great”? Oh boy, does it…

The one thing I was worried about entering this movie was the fact that because I’d not seen the original, I’d miss out on perhaps plot and character development. The plus side is they sum up the first movie within about 3 cave paintings and a voice over from Qui-Gon-Jinn, in the opening 2 minutes and there’s a couple of references to the events of it, but it’s glossed over for a new tale, which in all honesty never feels like it begins or ends, within the first 5/10 minutes. We’re introduced to characters, given tons of clunky plot exposition and Zeus is betrayed and kidnapped by Voldemort. No seriously, Ralph Fiennes is in this movie, but he looks incredibly bored and doesn’t emote at all. I wanted pure grade ham, this is the man who literally danced over Harry Potter’s dead body in the last Harry Potter movie, but instead it was just a rotten pork chop from him and all involved. Not that the script gives anyone a lot of room to actually create memorable character, they just exist to either fuel the “plot” or just for the sake of having that type of character in there. For example, we have Rosamund Pike as Queen Andromeda, and you’d think “Female action queen who goes into battle” plus with Pike’s acting chops, we’d get some kind of strong female character that would probably make Katniss Everdeen look like a snivelling wimp, NOT IN THIS CRAPPY MOVIE! If you want strong female characters, go watch The Hunger Games, Andromeda literally does nothing in the whole movie. Actually, if you just want to watch an enjoyable movie, go watch The Hunger Games, I can’t recommend that movie enough. Andromeda’s personality is based around two things. First, she is a warrior. Second, she is a female. Neither of those things are really brought to any attention and she just tags along for no real reason, doing very little. Even Bella Swan had more personality and she was as interesting as a block of wood.

Also, why is Sam Worthington acting in his native Aussie accent? this is accent Greece, I can understand everyone else’s classic English, because that’s just default “fantasy accent” but god-damn was that out of place. Although he was just generally pretty dull and to probably busy chasing the almighty dollar to care (Has he done anything else outside this series and Avatar?). There are side characters that are at least slightly fun, but like a lot of things on show here, they feel out of place and just make the tone just loop around all over the place. It can’t decide whether to be a gritty action movie, character motivated piece, or an adventure movie, and it’s clear the writers don’t know either. Characters announce their motivation or clunkily (it’s a word…) announce who they are to people who know that. I don’t walk up to my brother and go “Hello my brother,” why does Zeus? And there’s another line that bugged me where an older woman is fixing Perseus up after an opening battle that makes no fucking sense and says, and I quote; “You said you wanted your son to grow up as a fisherman, not a swordsman” And I’m just sitting there thinking, why does she need to tell him this, he knows this. In fact, we’ve already seen the child out fishing and seeming like he enjoyed it, there is no need to announce what he wants for his son, because we’ve already established this through the visual act.

And then we move onto the “plot”, which is essentially just a 2 part television plot. It’s literally “Perseus goes to rescue Zeus, fights Kronos” THE END! And that’s literally the movie’s storyline in a nutshell. I don’t have a problem with simple plots, but in order for them to work, you need good characters to keep you interested and immersed in the world, but there’s none of that here and I was just bored. There’s interesting backstory in the Greek mythology regarding the titans that is just never gone into. The entire budget has gone on the CGI, which mind, you is pretty impressive, but as stated without characters, without a decent plot, it’s all mouth and no tunic, which isn’t a nice image, now that I think about it…

BRAIN BLEACH, PLEASE!

So Wrath Of The Titans is essentially a wasted effort, it’s confused, it’s clunky, it’s poorly paced, the acting is terrible and not given any time to develop, which is at its heart, a real shame when you see the cast involved in this, and It’s held together by a loose plot based entirely on spectacle that honestly makes little sense. It’s quickly trot to make a quick buck, it’s really apparent and it is not worth your money. Least we know Hollywood movies can’t get worse this month…

Oh wait, Battleships out next week? ****