This weekend will see the release of Robert Zemeckis’ 3D opus The Walk. But, because this is 2015, the arrival of yet another 3D film isn’t anything to write home (frenetically tweet) about. But then came the reports of more than one instance of audience members throwing up after the titular ‘walk’ in the film, and we sat up and took notice.
Zemeckis is probably the only filmmaker who has redefined the 3D experience thrice. After his slightly extended foray into motion capture, the Oscar-winner returned to his roots with the Denzel Washington film Flight, showing us once again what a master visual storyteller he really is. Come to think of it, it makes total sense that Zemeckis would be the only one who could top his plane crash sequence from Cast Away, and that’s exactly what he did in Flight.
3D is still a divisive technology and the American audiences have all but given up on it. But it remains huge in the rest of the world.
So here is our list of great 3D ‘experiences’ that achieved giddying highs and argued the case for what many still call a ‘gimmick’.
10 . Mad Max: Fury Road
The person who manages to convince us that George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is too recent to be mentioned here deserves a permanent place in The Wasteland, preferably beside Immortan Joe, because nothing can sway us. Mad Max is pure visual poetry. Despite the chaos, Miller manages to focus your attention exactly where he wants it. And those driving sequences in the vast open spaces make for some truly stunning 3D.
9. The Adventures of Tintin
What happens when a genius director is handed all the tools he needs to perfectly execute his vision? The answer: Steven Spielberg and The Adventures of Tintin. The amount of visual flourishes Spielberg manages to squeeze together in this movie is nothing short of incredible. It’s the perfect example of brilliant 3D. Case in point: That single-take chase scene in the middle of Bagghar.
8. Transformers: The Dark of the Moon
Now before you pass judgment, hold on. Why Transformers, you wonder? Let us give you some context. The year was 2011, 3D was witnessing its worse phase, replete with shoddy post-conversion atrocities like Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland. Then came Michael Bay (undeniably a visual genius) armed with his state of the art 3D IMAX cameras and some of the most jaw-dropping 3D shots ever seen. He shot lens flares in 3D for Gods’ sake.
7. How to Train Your Dragon
This was Dreamworks’ emotional bid for the Pixar crown. And it was the closest anyone had ever come, perhaps with the exception of Laika or Aardman. HTTYD had some of the most beautifully thrilling flying sequences ever. And paired with a heartfelt coming-of-age story, it became an instant animated classic.
6. Tron: Legacy
Joe Kosinski’s divisive Tron sequel angered many over its less than stellar plot. But few could argue that the film was one of the most visually inventive works ever. Like the original Tron that came decades earlier, Legacy perfectly utilized the tech available. There is something special about watching a Tron light cycle race scored to Daft Punk’s brilliant music.
When Martin Scorsese was asked about when his love for 3D started, he had an unexpected answer: Since the 1950’s, he said. And it was fitting, in a very Scorsese way, that Hugo would be the film he chose to make that switch. It captures the essence of the great director and his love for cinema. And once again, 3D afforded a director the freedom they perhaps never had before.
4. The Great Gatsby
For the longest time, we would associate 3D only with animation or huge action scenes. The effect would largely go unnoticed in quiet dramatic scenes. In stepped Baz Luhrmann, armed with his hip-hop soundtrack and flashy visuals. Remember that scene in the hotel room? Now we know what 3D does to a scene with just four characters talking.
3. Life of Pi
Ang Lee didn’t care that the novel he chose to adapt to film was frequently declared ‘unfilmable.’ Not only did he film the heck out of it, he did it in some of the most beautiful 3D ever seen. The changing aspect ratio was just one of the many innovative flourishes Ang Lee brought to the picture. Also, the flying fish.
Alfonso Cuaron’s intricately planned magnum opus (and he’s had more than a fair share of them) was a 3D event film. This was a movie that demanded to be seen in 3D. The vastness of space and all the philosophical baggage being stranded in it entails, was all brought to life in glorious rendered 3D effects.
Can there be any other film at number 1 than the one that started it all? James Cameron, the visionary, threw some of the most magnificent images ever up on the screen. And no matter what everyone says about the clichéd plot, it works like a charm. This movie is the reason so much money is spent on making them. This movie is the reason people still go out to theatres.
The author tweets @NaaharRohan