Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"The Voyage of the Dawn Treader": My First Movie Experience With 3D

Bichara, a cinema theater here (where I live), just recently made the 3d-viewing experience available in the city.  Upon learning, I was curious since it’s the first time that this technology became available in the locality, and I had never experienced watching a movie in 3-d before.  Two factors made me to finally decide trying it.   Firstly, the ticket price cost 250php only, cheaper compared to the ticket prices in other places.  Secondly, the movie was “Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.   Its release date (US) was going to be December 10, but it was released December 3 in the Philippines.  Pretty cool, huh? 

So, I dragged my family to watch it (it was December 9, which was my mother’s birthday)  We bought our tickets for the last full show, waited at least one hour before being able to enter, took some pictures when we got in, got surprised that the theatre was nearly empty (as my mother puts it, it was as if we rented the place for private viewing), stood when the national anthem was played… and then the movie rolled.  And our eyes’ had a ball!

If it’s one’s first time to watch 3d, of course, he will like it.  But get him to watch 3d again for a few more times and he’ll realize that 3d is overrated and unnecessary.  At least, the method used on the Narnia movie.

There are two methods in using the 3d technology in movies.  First, is shooting it by using 3d or “two-eyed” cameras.  This device films a scene in a way that is similar to how the human eyes perceive depth.  The result?  “Avatar”.  I haven’t watched “Avatar” in 3d, but I watched it in a big screen and found the visuals awesome.  What more if it’s in 3d then?  Even those critics who hated the story of “Avatar” (for the record, as a serious sci-fi fan, I found the story of “Avatar” beautiful.  Maybe it was not very unique, but it was beautiful) gave high praises to the movie’s visuals.

However, shooting a film with the use of “two-eyed” cameras is very expensive.  The second way to 3d a movie is cheaper.  Thus, it is inferior.  Significantly inferior.  In the second process, the film is shot by the use of normal “one-eyed” cameras, which is the usual way of shooting films (the non-3d kind).   Afterwards, the filmmakers have engineers “cut out” the characters or foregrounds to create an illusion of layer or depth.  Result?  It comes out like a pop-out book.                         

The 3d method used in “Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” was the second method.  The cheaper, more inferior method.  Ok, don’t get me wrong.  Again, since it was my first time, I liked the experience.  There are scenes in the movie which the “cut out” illusion had made pretty solid.  There were times I feel I could grasp the foreground.  There were times I have to instinctively flinch as water splashed or flakes of fire flew.  But there were “cut-out” scenes that were just plain silly.  And sometimes even messy, especially when the camera moves fast.

3d technology should be used as a tool to enhance the story of the movie or the viewing experience.  I would have liked “The Dawn Treader” as much in 2d as with in 3d.  Makes no difference between the two at all as far as impact brought by the movie is concerned.  In my opinion, I think filmmakers should stop making 3d movies using the second method.   You pay a higher ticket price and you get a “pop-out book” experience in the end.  Just stick to 2d if it will not really enhance the experience significantly at all.  If they will make a movie 3d, they should do it the right way: shoot it with 3d cameras.  It might be an expensive process, but that’ll make the viewing experience a jaw-dropping, heart pounding, mind-blowing one.

How about my thoughts on the movie itself?  I liked it, but I think it was the weakest among the three Narnia movies (with the first movie still being the best one).  However, I love how the epic Christian allegorical dialogues remained intact.   Hearing those lines made the ticket price worth it.  Especially the lines of Aslan, voiced perfectly by Liam Neeson.  Aslan’s voice (and roar) makes my skin crawl in a good way. 

"But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."  When Aslan said that line, it was as if God was also speaking to me, that even through the fiction and pop culture I am fond of, which He allows me to enjoy, I should be able to learn something about God through them, which, ultimately, should help me know Him more in reality.

Good movie viewing experience.  Totally worth it.                  

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