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Marshall Fine Headshot

3D: Not the Next Big Thing

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This has been the summer of digital 3D, from early releases like Up to last weekend's The Final Destination to the growing drumbeat for James Cameron's much-anticipated Avatar, which began at Comic-Con and will crescendo with the film's year-end release.

A recent Newsweek article touted the imminent arrival of 3D TV -- which would, of course, require new TV sets, receivers and DVD players.

Not to mention, of course, the glasses.

Ah, the glasses. There's the rub.

Because no matter how open I am to 3D -- to what some have referred to as an "immersive experience" -- I still can't get past the glasses.

Glasses = gimmick.

Certainly, 3D can enhance the experience. But should it define the experience? More to the point, how important is a work of art that requires special equipment to be able to truly enjoy it -- beyond one's eyes, ears and brain?

At its best, film should already be an immersive experience. Indeed, that's true of the best examples of any art. Whether it's a great book, a soulful piece of music, a transcendent painting or a significant film: The definition of art is its ability to reach you in a way that takes you out of yourself, out of your own head, out of your everyday life, and puts you squarely in the realm of the artist.

I haven't seen the Avatar footage. And I would certainly never bet against James Cameron, a visionary director who makes me glad that my career as a critic has overlapped with his as a filmmaker. (I feel the same way about a couple of other directors, a short list that starts with Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.)

If anyone can create a digital 3D method that pulls you into his make-believe world in a way no one has before, it's Cameron. I'm anxious to see it.

But if Avatar turns out to be a great film, I'm betting it's not because of the technology. It never is.

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