Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bruce Versus Hal

Shark Night, 3D is coming out, you know. I saw in a preview commercial -- just one time. What I gathered is this: it is a movie about a night with lots and lots of sharks who come at you in 3D. Oh, and there are girls in bikinis -- who, I imagine, come at you in 3D as well, but that is neither here nor there.

It might wind up being a great movie (though I doubt it). 

God knows that making a shark movie must be a guaranteed ulcer for any self-respecting director, in the shadow of Jaws. I mean, I value my life quite a bit, but I am sure that if my second chance to score a film were on a project about a shark, I would certainly contemplate suicide.

As I say, the movie might wind up being good (though I doubt it). Why, you ask, do I doubt it?

Stephen and Bruce
Because it has 3D in the title, that's why. I'm not saying 3D is bad, but it can be a crutch for a lame screenplay. Let's face it : it's scary to have a white shark torpedo into your popcorn tub on date night. But that is so damned easy.

In 1975, Stephen Spielberg found himself on Martha's Vineyard with a techno-shark named Bruce that barely ever worked. This, if you don't know, is why the shark appeared so seldom in the final film. And this, as Spielberg has said, is the best thing that could have happened. He needed to rethink and to use his inner-Hitchcock to make the film scary. What is not seen in that film is the heart of its success as a thriller.

Can this new film be good? Yes it can (though I doubt it), but only if its chances of success are not piled upon the catapult of 3D technology. Innumerable dimensions can exist in two, when you really think about it, while three dimensions can be flat and lifeless.

The human heart is 3D on a flat sheet of paper, as long as it is drawn well or written well, but no one can inflate a heart-balloon with holes in it.

Well, I just hope that we are not going the direction, in all of our cultural thinking, of believing that "more," "faster" and "more vivid" are necessarily scarier (or more effective) than a shadow moving under the water and looking up, hungrily, at the dangling legs of swimmers.

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