I missed Avatar - the first 3D movie to screen in New Zealand - but caught Alice in Wonderland this week.
The whole 3D movie experience is not new of course, but I suspect if it had been like this back in the 1950's it would have never disappeared. However, although the glasses you have to wear to view 3D movies like 'Alice' are superficially almost identical, the way they work is quite different. And as a result, colours are real and bright in this new generation of 3D movies.
Back then, so I'm told, the red/blue method of distinguishing each part of the stereoscopic input meant that the colours were odd and also washed out.
REAL D projection technology use circularly polarised light (I'm not exactly sure what this is, but it means you can tilt your head and still see 3D) and alternate the left and right eye's view (you don't notice any flicker).
In this picture I took of two of our pairs of glasses. You can see that rotating the same side ones against each other allows no light to get through. As you decrease the rotation, more and more light can pass through. These are called oppositely circularly polarised lenses.
If you're interested, you can read more about REAL D here.
Anyway, back to 'Alice'. It's not the original story, which, let's face it, was pretty disjointed, with Alice stumbling about meeting random beings with varying degrees of insanity who seemed to have no interest in helping her at all. However we all have vivid memories of those encounters; the hookah-smoking caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter, playing-card soldiers, the Queen of Hearts playing croquet with a hedgehog ball and flamingo mallet...
Well, they're all there, plus a few extras from the poem Jabberwocky including the Jabberwock itself, looking wonderfully like the original John Tenniel illustration, but with better fangs.
And the storyline is ok I guess. It flows. There's an aim, and if it's a bit like all the other reluctant hero stories, at least Alice learns to improve her Muchness and make decisions for herself that involve courage, and belief, (even if it is 'six impossible things before breakfast') and all that other Girls Can Do Anything stuff.
Now the 3D bit. Unfortunately I think this movie might have been better in 2D. There was too much information, but more importantly the camera movements, angles and out-of-focus foregrounds and backgrounds during depth-of-field shifts, were irritating for me (and others like Gizmodo). Now these are good and appropriate techniques in movies. I'd not want a reversion to the static and boring directorship of the early talkies. But Burton, consummate director in 2D that he is, hasn't taken into account the different needs of a 3D audience. To be honest, the best bit was the end credits where you can just sit and watch a mushroom grow and flowers slowly opening. 3D is here to stay, but it just needs a different way of directing.
Having said all that, visually Alice in Wonderland is indeed a wonderful land that Tim Burton has created. Dark, cruel, frabjously beautiful, - a refreshing and acceptable 'Disney with teeth'. Callooh Callay! But best in 2D please.
But still not a patch on his The Nightmare before Christmas or Corpse Bride.