I had just entered the theater and began looking around for a seat. The onscreen message was already telling us to put on the 3D goggles and I thought the feature was about to start, but the glasses were for the coming attractions for four different animated films, all in 3D, all four entertaining and fun to watch.
One was a new Toy Story from Disney, the other three based on popular children's books. In a preview of an animal animation featuring talking owls, the level of detail blew me to a new place in film watching experience. Totally absorbed with its artistry and beauty, it reminded me of the awe I felt at my first 'Cinerama' wide-screen event back at age ten.
It was that good. This is the near-term future of film, I guess... the big bold immersive experience of 3D; an edge the large-screen metro-plexes still have over home theatre.
Johnny Depp's insane clown stare will haunt many a contemporary childhood nightmare, but flesh and blood was outdone by the animated characters, most notably Helen Bonham Carter voicing the clueless Red Queen.
It just makes sense that animated films are pushing the 3D tech envelope, though James Cameron's Avatar 3D digital camera innovations will undoubtedly raise the future quality of live action fare. Animated films are adapted to 3D much easier than live action cinematography, which requires special cameras and complex set-ups and have certain limitations in quality of the final cut 3D effects. With animated imagery, stored as digitized frames and layers, the secondary image required for 3D can be generated algorithmically using a digital post-process that will vividly render 3D with a depth and range live-action camera technology inherently lacks.
All this geeking on graphics technology finally brings me around to Tim Burton's and his silly movie, Alice in Wonderland. There wasn't much of a story, of course none of it makes sense. The comedic tone was often uneven. Johnny Depp's Matt Hatter fright face filled up the screen way too long and way too often.
All that said, there was plenty of eye-popping candy for everyone. This film earned its three Fat Laughing Golden Buddhas because there was nothing particular you needed to think about while every thing in sight was way fun to watch. The animated characters are so well done, you truly do forget rabbits can't talk, playing cards can't walk, cats can't fly, and you couldn't care less.
Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0 acid-tripping Fat Laughing Golden Buddhas