I have seen the future and it involves glasses.
But before we get to that I have to set the stage. Austin (my oldest son) turned 8 this past Sunday. Yes that would be April 1st, and no I’m not fooling. Having a child on the first of April changes your perspective of this “holiday”. We’ve come to call it April Cools Day around my house, and set about to do nice things for people instead of using it as an excuse to mess with people’s minds (not that there is anything wrong with that as Seinfeld might say.) One of the cool things I decided to do was to take Austin out to see a new movie. I also allowed him to pass on the April Cools Day moment by inviting his brother Justin to come along with us. Of course, this act of kindness had it’s own level of selfishness as well as the movie we went to see was one I have been interested in for a while, “Meet the Robinsons“. OK, fine, I desperately wanted to see the movie and I dragged the boys along as an excuse, you caught me, you happy now? The point is, father and sons, under whatever false pretenses, went to see a movie this weekend, but not just any movie, a movie with a third dimension.
And this is where the glasses come in.
But before I laud the inevitable coming of a new age of movie making, let’s talk about the film itself. “Meet the Robinsons” marks the first Disney animated feature that incorporates completely the recent regime change at the top of Walt’s animation department. If you don’t know, almost a year ago, Disney solved their ongoing disputes with Pixar by buying them outright and as part of the deal putting the Pixar crew in charge of their entire animation department. The Robinson family is the first direct result of that decision and bears the fingerprints of Pixar’s genius though not technically a Pixar film. In fact, this movie, in my mind, ranks right up there with the best that the little hopping desk lamp studio has to offer, somewhere between Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. It tells a great story, driven by fun, engaging characters with a compelling and positive message (in this case the power of persistence, discovery, and imagination). In this film the writing and direction are also of special note for delivering, at a blistering pace, some of the funniest dialogue and visuals I have seen in a long time, all the time while moving the plot forward and never losing the emotion or depth.
Speaking of depth, let’s finally talk about the glasses.
It’s great that “Meet the Robinsons” is a tremendous film, and I would imagine it would even be so with only two dimensions. But after seeing it in Disney’s new “Real D”, Digital 3-D, I was left astounded. I’ve seen 3-D stuff before but never through digital projection. Since it’s a digital screen ever frame is picture perfect. The color, framing, and intended 3-D effect are exactly right and the result is the feeling that you actually exist in that world. Curiously, I found myself staring at reflections. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it, but you can’t get reflections right in 2D. Ironically, this is because they exist only in 2D in real life. The world around us has depth but a reflection doesn’t, so it’s unique. But in a 2D movie both real world and reflection are flat and that distinction is lost. So now instead of just seeing a time machine, I find myself staring in amazement at it’s chrome bumper, much like I imagine those in attendance at the first color movies would get lost in how blue the sky was or the green of the grass. It’s these kind of subtle nuances that convince me that 3D is what all movies (and TV for that matter) should (and will) move to in the near future. You already hear some of the major players talking about it, and I don’t think it will be very long until the movies released in 2D will be the lonely ones. You might still think it’s just a gimmick, but remember people said the same thing about sound and color when they first started appearing in films. Why wouldn’t a filmmaker embrace a way to drawn his or her audience into his world in a deeper and more visually compelling way? Also, before you think there are no places near you doing the “Real D” thing, you might want to do a quick search at reald.com. If there is a theater within 40 miles of me that is showing it, I’m pretty sure you can find one even closer to you (considering the nearest theater of any sort to my house is 25 miles away). The point is, if you have to drive a few extra miles to catch it in 3D I would highly recommend it.
Overall, “Meet the Robinsons” is a fun frolicking film (I could throw in family as well, but enough alliteration is enough, really.) that speaks directly to our willingness to keep thinking outside the box even when it doesn’t work out the first time. The movie’s message itself and the presentation in three dimensions is a visual reminder to us that seeing the world around us involves more than just the stuff that’s on the surface. That if we allow ourselves the vulnerability that comes with depth it can open up an astounding world of beauty and reflection that we might have missed otherwise.
We just need to put on our glasses.