Is 3D the Future of Film?

We saw "Up", Pixar's new animated picture yesterday.  It was the first time we'd seen a movie together, because Peter goes to critics screenings at times that I usually can't come.

My feelings mirror Peter's about the movie: it was by far the best thing I've seen all year.  Pixar movies are usually brilliant, and this was no exception--indeed, it may be my favorite of their films.

Unlike Roger Ebert, we saw it in 3D.  And this triggered something of a disagreement as to whether 3D is the future of movies.  Peter sort of endorsed Ebert's indictment of 3D:

I'll have to see "Up"in 3D to experience their effectiveness. I'm afraid the brightness and delicate shadings of the color palate will become slightly dingy, slightly flattened out, like looking through a window that needs Windex. With standard 3D movies, take off the glasses and see how much brighter the "real" screen is. I predict the Cannes screening will look better than almost every U.S. screening.

There is also the annoyance of 3D itself. It is a marketing gimmick designed (1) to justify higher ticket prices, and (2) make piracy harder. Yet as most of the world will continue to use 2D, pirated prints will remain a reality. The effect of 3D adds nothing to the viewing experience, and I have never once heard an audience member complain that a movie is not in 3D. Kids say they "like" it, but kids are inclined to say they "like" anything that is animated and that they get to see in a movie theater. It is the responsibility of parents to explain this useful truth: If it ain't broke. don't fix it. Every single frame of a 3D movie gives you something to look at that is not necessary.

I have to disagree.  Yes, the standard goggles they hand out slightly dim the movie.  On the other hand, there were moments in the movie when I crossed whatever the inanimate version of the uncanny valley is:  I forgot I was looking at a movie.  This despite the fact that I was watching a cartoon.

As we discussed this over dinner afterwards, it came out that Peter doesn't have good stereo vision.  And though the plural of anecdote is not data, I wonder if this isn't likely to be a problem many film critics have.  After all, the worse your stereo vision, the more compellingly life-like a movie is.

I don't think that 3D will prove much of a barrier to piracy--as far as I can tell, you could just as easily do it on a large home screen, and ever-larger home screens are clearly coming.  But it is a format that is especially well-suited to a big screen, and in that sense, if it becomes a dominant format, it really might help save Hollywood from what has happened to the record industry.

And I think it might.  For me, even with slight color-dimming, 3D added quite a lo, even though directors are clearly still learning how to use it.  It still feels slightly awkward and underused, like the first talkies, when actors had to deliver their lines into the plants.  But when it works, it's an improvement on par with the switch to color.

But I seem to be in a minority, at least among film critics.  What do y'all think?