A combination of a wet Saturday afternoon with everybody else out doing their own thing, combined with curiousity about this apparent lack of interest led me to sample a 3-D digital screening at my local multiplex.
First off, if you're looking for something that showcases what the RED can do, this movie isn't it. Everything looks like it was shot either at night under balloon lights or in the early evening, or on dull, overcast days. The whole film has a dull "day-shot-for-night" look about it, which reminded me of a drive-in move shown using an underpowered projector when there's a full moon
Everything also looked quite soft, almost like the film was shot on SD cameras or super-16.
(If you want to suggest that the 3-D projector was somehow at fault, before the main feature they had a number of trailers of upcoming fully animated 3-D features, and they were superb. While I can see that there is a potentialy huge market for 3-D, I rather suspect it will be limited to cartoons and CGI; live action may always be too hard to get right).
I also suspect that, rather like Jurassic Park, this film was originally more an engineering range-finding exercise than a specific attempt at producing a box office winner, because there was an obvious learning process involved.
I think the first thing they discovered is that for 3-D live action to be convincing, you need an extremely shallow depth of field. The resultant fast focus falloff gives the eye extra information for correctly synthesizing the 3D illusion. Obviously on some shots they had the iris stopped down too much, giving the the characteristic "3-D" look of two cardboard cutouts talking to each other. But in other, similarly setup scenes, they appear to have learned their lesson and shot with a fully-open aperture and NDs, which may explain the apparent softness of most of the film. The "cardboard cutout" scenes were definitely much sharper-looking, which tends to clash with the rest of the film. I suspect that if live action 3-D ever catches on, they will need to shoot with 65mm-sized sensors.
Overall, the 3-D effect was quite convincing, far better than all the earlier cinematic efforts I've seen.
As for the movie itself, it appears that as far as this genre goes, nothing much has changed in 40 years!
While most folks will find the special effects sufficiently gory, it seemed to me that the old adage "less is more" seems to hold true, in that the graphic 3-D closeups tended to highlight the fakeness of the effects rather than enhancing them.
Paying loyal homage to the film's heritage, it had the obligatory and totally gratuitious extended full-frontal nude scene, although the softness of the image artfully concealed complete expression of the actress's full Brazilian glory
Actually this is kind of bizarre. The nude scene started fairly demurely with the actors either facing away from the camera, or casually holding bedclothes in strategically placed positions, Days of Our Lives style, and then it was almost like the director said "oh stuff this, let's just let it all hang out!"
After that there was no attempt at concealing anything.
I'm still none the wiser what the actual plot was supposed to be. The identity of the culprit for all the mayhem is eventually revealed, without there ever being a single hint beforehand to give the audience a clue that he might have been responsible. Apparently some of the earlier scenes he was in that tended to prove his innocence, turned out to only be hallucinations on his part, but there was nothing that gave any hint that that was the case.
At one part the local sherrif was lamenting that all the sensationalist news coverage was going to give the rest of the world the impression that the town was populated by inbred retards. Given the unbelievable ineptitude demonstrated by the victims in trying to escape the killer, to me it would have seemed a pretty fair call
Another interesting quirk was that the credits make no mention of what cameras were used, and even though this was a digital 3-D projection, it says "Kodak Film".
Edited by Keith Walters, 14 February 2009 - 01:02 AM.