Tuesday, November 29, 2011

10 Movies That Could Be Re-Released in 3D

Note the title of this piece. The key word is"could," not necessarily "should." With the 3D craze in full swing with the recent successful re-release of The Lion King, and Titanic and Star Wars still on the way, more studios are jumping on the bandwagon, releasing and re-releasing every other film in three dimensions because they smell cash. And now even acclaimed directors like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are dipping their feet in the water (with The Adventures of Tintin and Hugo respectively) and and in the process maybe trying to lend the format more legitimacy. I have little doubt their motives are pure and the films may even be good, but what about us? We have to pay $15 to see it. I could care less if these guys are having a great time experimenting with the technology. It has to be worth it for audiences. At that steep price you REALLY have to show me something and even then I'm still not sure I'd be interested.

To date, I've only see one 3D movie in theaters, Tron: Legacy, which I enjoyed immensely for reasons that had more to do with its story and visuals. Re-watching it on blu-ray recently further solidified that opinion, but even when I first reviewed it I conceded the use of 3D technology was "defensible" due to the immersive nature of the story (i.e. being sucked into a computer program). This got me thinking what past titles could benefit from a 3D re-release. Of course, this still doesn't mean I'd consider seeing them, especially when I could just pop in the DVD at home, which is cheaper, not to mention a whole lot more comfortable. But in the following cases below (some obvious, others not) I can see where a 3D conversion and re-release in the format is more than just a cash grab, and even somewhat excusable for one reason or another. There's probably many more, but it's a start.

10. Citizen Kane (1941)
Though I've strangely never met a single person who holds this view, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane is widely regarded by many as "The Greatest Film Ever Made." Much, if not all, of that adoration comes from its groundbreaking technical achievements. With its deep focus photography, details in the foreground and background would really pop out in 3D, making it seemingly the perfect fit for the format. A re-release could also help shake its stodgy stigma as a homework assignment. It won't happen though. Supposedly Welles' dying wish was that his film not be colorized or tinkered with. This definitely qualifies as "tinkering." Even a full fledged remake seems likelier.

9. Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)
If ever a film was made for the format it's this. That's not to say the 2006 original (a superior effort) isn't, but the sequel takes everything the first did and jacks it up (remember the race track sex scene? the guy's head being kept alive?). It's more over-the-top, more nonsensical and more ridiculous, thus making it an even better fit for 3D. For some reason when I think back on the movie I remember it in 3D, which has always been the gift of the Crank series. So they may as well just go ahead and do it. With Crank 3D already in the works they should convert the first two and roll the trilogy into theaters together. That's something I might actually pay to see.  

8. Jurassic Park (1993)
Here's a no-brainer. Given the technology kick Spielberg's been on lately it wouldn't surprise me if it's the works already. Supposedly there are already plans to film the impending JP4 in 3D so a re-release of the 1993 original in this format is a definite possibility. And I'll admit it isn't a half-bad idea when you consider a T-Rex getting right in your face. As a theater experience it couldn't get much better than this. It's basically what 3D was created for.

7. Twister (1996)
Another no-brainer. I remember seeing this in the theater opening week and thinking nearly all of its impact would be diluted if seen on the small screen at home. As a story there really isn't much there (a bunch of scientists chasing tornadoes) but there doesn't need to be. A big effects movie of the highest order that would benefit immensely from a 3D conversion, literally taking you into the storm with debris, houses, trucks and cows flying right at you.

6. Inception (2010)
There were supposedly studio discussions with director Christopher Nolan about shooting this in 3D but he rejected the idea. While I can't say I disagree with his decision and the finished product was amazing, it could have worked. Would it have enhanced the experience? I'm not sure but down the line if they converted and re-released it the decision would at least make some sense. Like that year's Tron: Legacy, the narrative revolves around being transported into another world and you can't help but wonder how that extended sequence with Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page would have played with those buildings and streets unfolding in your lap.

5. Enter The Void (2009)
Here's the only selection on the list where 3D technology can actually draw attention to an overlooked, difficult film that wouldn't get it otherwise, perhaps even improving its mainstream prospects. I'm betting very few people have even seen it and those who have are probably too traumatized by the experience to talk about it. Challenging and inaccessible beyond belief, Gasper Noe's 2009 psychedelic nightmare defies any sort of formal explanation. I still don't know what I think of it, but I do know it would look incredible in 3D. It's 2001's trippy Stargate sequence stetched over 2 hours, boasting some of the most awe-inspiring visual effects produced on an independent budget, and a first person P.O.V. that throws you head first into life, a death and beyond. A 3D conversion would only complete the process, taking you all the way in.

4. Speed Racer (2008)
While it has its few supporters, anyone who was able to sit through 2008's underwhelming Speed Racer will have to admit it got one big thing right: The visuals. 3D can give this critical and commercial flop a new lease on life with a fresh presentation that plays to its biggest (only?) strength. When watching it at the time I thought a 3D release was more than justifiable and still do. The question is whether it'll still be a mind numbing bore. There's no way to know for sure but this is the film's best chance at survival.

3. The Matrix (1999)
You knew this would show up on here. It had to. Of the films listed it's the most likely to happen. And I'm betting soon. As someone who's no fan of The Matrix at all and thinks it only offers impressive visual effects, it's of little surprise I'd offer it up as the perfect 3D conversion candidate. And if we're lucky maybe everyone will be so dazzled they'll forget how awful its two sequels are and they'll can convert those too. 3D will never fix the huge story flaws in the trilogy but it could get us so lost in the Matrix we'd at least maybe temporarily forgive them. Going in this direction could only result in improvement. 

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Speaking of twisters. The wicked witch, the yellow brick road, flying monkeys, falling houses. It says a great deal about the quality of a film released in 1939 that it could be re-released today and the images and effects would benefit--and perhaps be enhanced-- by 3D. And that's not even taking into account the story, which also seems to be the perfect fit for this technology. It's yet another example of the viewer being transported to another world, making the use of the format defensible. The unforgettable transition from Kansas to Oz can now not only go from black and white to technicolor but from 2D to 3D. There's also that added bonus of getting to see a classic film we've experienced many times over in a whole new way. Should they do it? Of course not. But if they did, I'd have to at least acknowledge they picked the right movie to experiment on.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The ultimate trip indeed. We absolutely shouldn't do this but there's no denying the temptation. And as much as I hate to admit it, there's no question this would work. Among films considered classics you're unlikely to find one that inspires as divisive a reaction. People either love this or hate it, and while I consider myself firmly in the former camp, it's possible what supporters appreciate most about Kubrick's classic will only be enhanced in 3D while naysayers' complaints (such as its pacing) would likely diminish. It doesn't "need" it since it's an  experience either way, but it would be nice if a glorious 3D presentation that accentuates even more of the film's visual strengths could sway those who never got on board. The Stargate sequence alone justifies the idea.


Travis Wagner said...

This list is incredibly expansive and I can tell you carefully considered the essence of 3D filmmaking. I will admit that I am a die hard Kubrick fan and even I am curious as to how it would look in 3D.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Great list! Agree with a lot of them, especially 2001 and Enter the Void! Twister and Jurassic Park would be awesome as well.

jeremythecritic said...

Thanks guys! While I'm no fan of the format (at least not yet) I tried to come up with ten I thought could really benefit from it.