I was unaware of how to react when my eyes first popped open in amazement at the visual advancement I was staring at. It was cool. Unique. Edgy. I thought the medium was about to change forever, and I couldn't get enough of it. The characters seemed to be right next to me, enhanced by the technology it was wrapped in. Nothing would ever be the same... I was 13. And I was staring at a foil-enhanced comic book cover.
I still remember the days of buying every comic book laced with such developments, if for nothing else I wanted to be on the ground floor of the revolution I was sure was about to take place. It didn't matter if the characters were Spider-Man, Deathstrike, Bloodsport, ummm Bloodtsrike? Deathsport? Arg, I couldn't keep up with everything Image and Valiant were throwing out there, but I ate it all up. There were gold covers, chromium covers, red foil covers. They were everywhere, and you were paying premium for it.
The weekly tallies on my comic book bills were escalating, while the stories told within were dropping. I looked around and suddenly found that every comic book on the newsstand seemed to be a "special" issue with a new cover. Covers didn't become as artistic as they once were, and I started to resent what was being forced down our throats (The Spider-Man Clone Wars didn't help).
Foil-covers became gimmicks.
After that initial rush of excitement encased my common sense, a new opinion took over my mind in regards to foil covers...
Moreover, they weren't very good. They were being rushed into production as a means to increase profits. The makers of these books sacrificed story and art for gimmick covers, and eventually the marketplace took notice and revolted.
The comic craze floundered, and there's no question foil covers had a lot to do with it.
It took comics well over a decade to recover, and some people think they never quite did.
The first time I saw Avatar, I was genuinely moved. Pandora seemed like as good a place as any to call heaven, and my senses struggled to keep up with the images unspooling on-screen. The story wasn't fantastic, but it was enough to stay engaged. James Cameron had proved yet again, he is a visionary. No question about it.
But due to Avatar's success, every studio in town rushed their film slate into 3D conversions. I thought this seemed sensible. Not only were there precious dollars to consume, but it seemed any movie not in 3D would suffer (at least blockbusters on this level). Cameron had changed the game, and everyone needed new equipment just to play.
Unfortunately, reality set it.
Studios thrust hastily converted 3D films upon audiences at a rapid rate. The Last Airbender. Clash of the Titans. Cats and Dogs. Drive Angry. Etc. Etc.
And as each live-action film came out in 3D, audiences groaned louder. Reality set it.
3D hasn't actually transformed the world of film. Not on the level where it was predicted, not yet.
3D will undoubtedly one day be the most prominent way to view movies, but it has a long ways to go before they take over the market. Because by and large, audiences still want story over lack of substance. Studios need to understand that neglecting story in favor of 3D wizardry won't work. The audiences are catching up to their motives, much like foil-covered comics of the 90's. You can't just slap 3D on any movie and expect us to come in droves.
Avatar was a pioneer. Nothing can replicate that first 3D moment we all felt upon seeing it.
But I also feel strongly that Avatar had a secret weapon that most of these 3D movies don't... Pandora.
In my opinion, 3D works best right now for animation and CGI created characters. Where I don't think it's working is with actual human beings. When I think about Avatar and how incredible the 3D was, I can assure you it had nothing to do with Sam Worthington's... ummmm, acting. It was all Pandora, all the time. The blue creatures popped with intensity, and the topographical landscape was simply breathtaking.
Conversely, people running around in 3D looks weird. Worse, the darkened glasses seem to wash out any and all light.
This is why animated movies like UP and Toy Story 3 look glorious in 3D. First off, they're colorful. They're also cartoons, which helps us suspend disbelief even more. A long establishing shot of a 3-inch Nicolas Cage driving a car just looks silly, and it sure as hell doesn't help that he's in a movie called Drive Angry... which is about... you know, driving angry.
I hope 3D gets to the point where it rocks our socks off. The idea of Derrick Rose dunking on LeBron James in my living room is beyond tantalizing, and I'm certainly all for innovation. But for now, I'll stick with traditional 2D.
The studios better figure it out before it's too late, because their reluctance to understand what the audience wants could have a drastic effect. They're holding on to a gimmick.
And just ask the comic book companies how that worked out...