Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Fish Bites Back

James Cameron recently gave an interview to Vanity Fair about the re-release of Avatar but the money quote that's been making the blog rounds is this tidbit about other movies in 3D in general and one in particular.
I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip.
The other film that he not only threw under the bus but held it down as the bus stopped, backed up and ran over it again is Piranha 3D. I happen to agree with Cameron on this point. 3D first started in the 50s and enjoyed a brief revival in the 80s before the current incarnation started showing up a few years ago. What marked both of those eras was that 3D movies, without fail, were horrible films. Well, maybe not all of them. Creature From The Black Lagoon was shot in 3D but I bet you didn't know that because it's hardly ever shown that way when you watch it these days on TCM. The reason for this is that 3D was a cheap, cheesy, ugly and distracting process. It was used mostly on cheap, cheesy, ugly and distracting movies so they could slap the words "SHOWN IN 3D" on the poster but both times it was stopped when people realized that 3D sucked. Which brings us to Piranha 3D.

When I reviewed the film last week, I barely mentioned that it was shot in 3D. That's because it wasn't worth mentioning. In that movie, I'd classify it as Mostly Harmless because, for the most part, it neither added nor subtracted from the movie itself. I didn't care for it but that wasn't because of the 3D.

All of that brings us to this. In a turn of events James Cameron couldn't possibly have foreseen, Piranha 3D producer Mark Canton also reads Variety and happened to read Cameron's trashing of his movie. His response went like this:
Let's just keep this in mind Jim ... you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further. The simple truth is that I had nothing but good things to say about Avatar and my own experience since I actually saw it, and didn't damn someone else's talent publicly in order to disassociate myself from my origins in the business from which we are all very fortunate. To be honest, I found the 3D in Avatar to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling. Technology aside, I wish Avatar had been more original in its storytelling.
You know Mark Canton, I too wish that Avatar had been more original in its storytelling and it's just great that I have you, the guy who produced the remake of 1978's Piranha, to speak for me. Who has more credibility and moral standing to rail on unoriginal films than the man whose latest cinematic offering gave us the wildly original story of an underwater monster that wreaks havoc on a modern day tourist resort that won't close its beaches because they'd lose money? I especially enjoyed the "guy who can't bring himself to tell the girl he loves how he feels and ends up connecting with her by risking his own life to save hers" subplot because we sure as hell have never seen that before.

Now now, Mark Canton, don't be upset. I kid because I love and there was one memorable 3D moment in Piranha 3D. That would be the time when Jerry O'Connell's penis gets chewed off by piranhas and bobs around for a bit before getting swallowed whole by one of the fish but WAIT that's not the best part. No no, the best part is when the damn fish burped it back up in the glory and majesty that is 3D. With that kind of cinematic quality backing him up, you can see why Mark Canton felt that he could go after James Cameron, the guy who directed the #1 and #2 top grossing films of all time. One of them even won the Oscar but the other one was only nominated so Canton will have even more room to talk when Piranha 3D gets nominated this year.

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