Why Roger Ebert Hates 3-D (And Why You Should Too)

“3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension,” wrote Roger Ebert in Newsweek late last month, much to the ire of fans of three dimensional movies.  “It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience.”  Tech blogs across the internet were quick to jump to the format’s defense, but I have to admit that I agree wholeheartedly with the premise, if not all of the reasons behind it.  I’ve seen one new 3-D film and that was enough for me.

There’s plenty to be said in defense of the 3-D format, but personally I can’t stand it.  Ebert’s article touches on some of the big reasons for me, the biggest of which is that – despite what the ad people keep telling me – it doesn’t actually help with immersion.  Characters not fully in frame completely ruin the illusion.  There’s nothing like a disembodied torso hanging in the air to make me remember that I’m watching a movie.

Add to that the poor use of the effect thus far.  Anything with live action components just looks awkward, actors look shorter or taller than they should, and the only thing that really works well is digital animation, like in ‘Avatar.’  Post ‘Avatar’ movies that used 3-D like ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ were met with quite a bit of criticism for their poorly done 3-D effects.

Ebert touches on a lot of this in his article, and delves into the business side of things.  He also suggests other technologies that Hollywood could better spend its time working with. It’s a damning article, but it does end on a softer note.  “‘Im not opposed to 3-D as an option,” writes Ebert.  “I’m opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy.”

Whether you’re a fan of the format or not, Ebert’s article is a great read.  Check it out over at Newsweek


  1. Rob

    It’s 2010 and 3D technology is still not even close to good enough.

    It should be like watching live theater, where the audience can look at anything on the stage and their eyes adjust to that focus.

    Right now the cameras fix the perception onto a single point. It’s 3D on rails. Looking around the frame causes all the unnatural sensations.

    Maybe 3D will never work, until they invent the Holodeck.

  2. Bran

    I also agree with Ebert. Seeing a snippet of The Birds 3-D at Universal Studios back in the 80s was good enough for me.

    I find myself focusing more on the new dimension of the films than anything else. I can only think of how tragic it would be for all movies to go 3-D someday. Imagine someone like Michael Mann moving to 3-D exclusively, ugh. Heat 3-D, boo.

  3. Andy Gilleand

    I suppose color is useless, and so is stereo, or even surround sound, and how about high definition? Surely it adds nothing essential. It’s not because those technologies add something essential, it’s because that create a more immerse and more lifelike experience. 3d is the same. Sure, most of the usage of 3d has been gimmicky, but that can be attributed to the directors, not the technology itself. 3d should not simply be used to add an *effect* to the movie, such as “ooh, look at that thing popping out of the screen!”. It should be used to simply add another dimension to the film. Directors should film identically to if they were shooting in 2d, as James Cameron did with Avatar. So far, Avatar is the only movie I’ve seen originally intended for 3d that wasn’t gimmicky and actually genuinely added another dimension to the film. Toy Story 1 and 2 did this as well, but they weren’t originally intended for 3d.

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