Oh So Dull “Life Of Pi” Confirms the Death of 3D.

Zhang-Ziyi-9Ang Lee is one of the most formidable film makers working anywhere in the world. After beginning with the charming The Wedding Banquet (’93) and Eat Man Drink Woman (’94), he made two of the very best films of the last two decades.

Sense And Sensibility (’95) and The Ice Storm (’97) combine subtlety, intelligence and range with a visceral, emotional depth. And they both capture perfectly the social mores and political complexities of 19th century England and 1970s America.

He followed that up in 2000 with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The physical ties and bonds that bind human beings together and drive them apart have rarely been explored quite so tangibly. And few films are as emotionally satisfying and as enigmatically layered.

peopleglassesge_450x300Life of Pi is its exact opposite. An obviously gay writer expresses his devotion by sitting and listening as an Indian man tells an interminable tale of a tiger on a raft. And we have to sit through the guts of two hours, as a computer generated tiger “interacts” with a CGId boy, raft and sea. And the only hold that it might conceivably have on your attention is the fact that it’s all shot in 3D.

When television arrived in the 50s, cinema responded by re-inventing itself to burst forth in glorious Cinemascope, and then in 3D. Then, when video arrived in the 70s, cinema responded once again with a still underwhelming version of 3D.

And, with the arrival of the Internet in the first decade of the new century, 3D was once again wheeled out to stave off the imminent demise of cinema. This time it was going to save television as well.

But everything we see in the cinema and on television is already in 3D. All “3D” does is to extend that illusion from the screen to your eyes. And yes, now that technology has finally caught up with it, for the first minute or so, it really is extraordinary to behold.

HowToMarryAMillionaireBut there are only so many fireflies you can be amazed by as they appear to be buzzing but inches away above your ears. The second minute is perfectly fine. But by the third minute, you get used to it. And you go back to the actual story.

If you want to see what the future holds for 3D, have a look at the woeful How To Marry A Millionaire. It was the first film to be shot in Cinemascope. And shorn of its WOW factor, today it looks hopelessly clumsy and embarrassingly thin. And what a criminal waste of Marilyn Monroe and, dear Lord, Lauren Bacall.

As for television, why would anybody want to watch, say a sporting event or a documentary in 3D? They’re already in 3D. What’s going to be added by utilizing the space in between the screen and your eyes when viewing them?

I hope that whatever bills he needed to get paid when he agreed to take this on have now been serviced. But Life Of Pi I’m afraid can be added to the Hulk (’03) as yet another pointless exploration of video game technology destined for a dusty shelf somewhere.

Sign up for a subscription right or below, and I shall keep you posted on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Television and Music!