Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bolt 3D

Yesterday I was downtown with P-Doug to liberate some beer from its confinement in cold, sterile pub taps, and we went to see Bolt, the new Disney movie. If you don't know, it's about a dog who is the star of an action-based TV show. Special effects give him his powers, but for the sake of "sincerity" on the show, the producers see to it that Bolt believes it's all real. It's only when he's accidentally shipped from Hollywood to New York and has to make his way back (with the help of a fanboy hamster and an initially-reluctant stray cat) that he learns the nature of reality and comes to grips with not being a "super" dog.

The version that we saw, down at the Scotiabank Theatres, was the 3D version. I went in hopeful, but honestly not expecting much. I have to say, I think I saw the future of the movie-going experience yesterday. The 3D is believable, and it's all in fully colour... none of that red and green stuff. It's done with circuluar polarizing lenses in glasses with opposite 'spins', and projection at 144 frames a second that alternate the view 72 times a second, far too fast for the human eye to register. The effect is a completely believable 3D environment -- so believable that I think the highest compliment is that after a while, you don't notice it... you just feel it. Not to give too much away, but there is scene near the end in which a building is on fire and two of the characters are trapped at floor level with a sea of smoke just above them. I'd seen stuff like that in fire prevention movies as a kid, but I never had a full sense of just how horrifying that is until yesterday. In faking it, they made it real for me. P-Doug paid it another fine compliment; he said to me that they never forced the 3D on you. There's only one, tiny, instantaneous "gotcha" 3D moment in the movie; otherwise, they were conservative with the effect. It was there to make a convincing environment for convincing characters, and that's exactly what it should be.

The movie itself is good, traditional pulls-at-the-heartstrings Disney fare. It's worth repeated seeings... but see it at least once. And see it in 3D. Even the flat, traditionally-animated closing credit sequences are given new life with the technique. It gives you an idea of just how much more is possible.

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