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Friday, April 30, 2010

Why I Think Roger Ebert Is Obsolete (And You Should Too)

Jim here. Roger Ebert just wrote an op-ed piece for Newsweek that blew my mind. I am forced to write yet another post to attempt some sort of counter balance to his blatant obsolescence (as he is obviously not ignorant to the facts any longer). Not only has he not learned from AVATAR and the optimism 3D has given Hollywood, he has retreated further back into his world. He has blasted yet another salvo at, well basically the world, now that practically everyone has been to Pandora and now owns it on disc.

Take this excerpt for example:
"3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for."

Stunning isn't it?
3D adds nothing essential. Interesting. I guess we should all poke out our left eye now shouldn't we? We don't need to see in stereo. He alludes to distraction, yet for most people you forget you are wearing glasses at all 5 minutes into AVATAR. Nausea and headaches? Again he is shooting off fear, uncertainty and doubt by talking about BAD 3D - like CLASH OF THE TITANS and/or the statistically very small number of people who literally can't see it effectively. Yes, the business side of Hollywood is enjoying more revenue to offset the development and future of 3D - but we live in a capitalist world driven by supply and demand. The market will set the price. Do you think people would flock to theaters at $50 a pop? I think not. 3D is darker than 2D - yes, so? If directors pay attention to this it does not matter - Cameron paid attention with AVATAR and hence no lighting issues. Get over it. 3D is unsuitable for grown up films he says. If anyone cares to enlighten me on what he means here, by all means do so! Dramas? Art films? What? In other words, if you have something serious to say to me Mr. Ebert, you had better shut one eye. What a joke. In fact, you should be winking when you say these things Mr. Ebert because it sounds like you are completely in jest.

Lastly he says that it limits the freedom directors have to make movies. To this I have to say: Hogwash. Directors are limited to making movies with sound nowadays aren't they? Dolby sound? With color? Oh the humanity to be forced into making a movie that actually draws our audience closer to the storyteller! To be fully engaged and engrossed. What a pity to force 3D upon ourselves.

His arguments against 3D are baseless and he knows it.
So what is his motivation to broadside 3D like this? Self promotion? Ego? How dare Hollywood do something like this without consulting with me? Someone paying him to say these things? Only Ebert can answer these questions. Surely it has nothing to do with his opinion does it? Hmmm. Perhaps it does. Perhaps obsolescence is upon Mr. Ebert finally. In fact, I know it is. And he knows I know.

Who am I to criticize one of movie's greatest critics of all time?
I have done it before if you will remember. Clearly Roger Ebert fits the description of a great critic, if not the defacto standard. He has entertained and informed movie fans since 1967 when he first set up his typewriter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert's movie advice has been for the most part, excellent. Logic and an innate blend of artistic criticism and empathy for the public audience has set him apart from the now massive vault of available online movie pundits.

And I clearly fall into the last category.
I am just a simple movie blogger that happens to love and embrace stereoscopic 3D. I am clearly biased and invested in the new industry. So what makes me think that I should challenge the man? Because he is wrong. Dead wrong.

The downfall of Ebert lies in his luminous past.
He is so entrenched in his rich history of Hollywood that he cannot move a limb towards its future. Quicksand of the mind if you will. The more he moves toward wanting to understand and enjoy 3D, the deeper he recedes into his opinion. Perhaps the first ill conceived opinion of his life. Unfortunately for him, the world has embraced 3D - not meekly or a generational blip, but a full blown revolution in filmmaking. Whether he sees this embrace is unknown to me. At least he recognizes the accomplishment of AVATAR.

Ebert tries the trusted old trick of misdirection when he actually strays WAY off topic to bring up faster frame rates as being the technology we need now rather than 3D. Yes, I agree faster framerates would be awesome! WITH 3D!! The two are independent thoughts my fellow movie critic.

What upsets me the most, other than his influence he has on the movie going public, is that he is artificially bringing directors on his side. Another excerpt: "Having shot Dial M for Murder in 3-D, Alfred Hitchcock was so displeased by the result that he released it in 2-D at its New York opening." Mr. Ebert. Stop trying to confuse your readers! It is pathetic. Hitchcock used old school 3D, NOT modern 3D. They are so vastly different. And YOU know it.

Moreover, he said:
"I once said I might become reconciled to 3-D if a director like Martin Scorsese ever used the format. I thought I was safe." Wrong again Mr. Ebert. Even his self admitted hero, Werner Herzog, is shooting a 3D movie about prehistoric cave paintings in France! Yet he freely admits all of this! He knows he is one of the last few influential people speaking out against 3D and you can tell he feels his back against the wall. Even his much loved directors are leaving him squirming. Of course he can take solace in the fact that Michael Bay is still on his side. *snicker* And do you really think the studios can force a man like Scorsese or Herzog into shooting 3D? Seriously, think about it.

Look. The time has come to admit that you were wrong Mr. Ebert and move on. It is only going to get worse for you. 3D will be improving by leaps and bounds in the coming years from a number of factors: Technology is improving everyday (TRON: LEGACY and AVATAR 2 will make huge strides yet again); 3D film crew expertise is growing exponentially; 3D is getting cheaper to shoot and convert; and more and more independents will soon be involved.

If Roger Ebert refuses to acknowledge that Hollywood is on the cusp of something magnificent and not "suicide", then surely the man is now obsolete. It pains me to say this yet again, but it is so true. Time to retire and enjoy the spoils of your career. Look at it this way folks, at least there will be one more aisle seat available for someone that cares.

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Jim Dorey
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