or perhaps we will ;)
3D content is hardly new. In fact, I couldn't have been more than six years old when I first sat down in a theater at Walt Disney World and got to see the Muppets "come alive" in 3-D. No classic 3D trick was left unused; arms reached out toward me, objects were hurled at my head, and thanks to the specially equipped theater, I even got water spritzed in my face when it was sprayed at the camera. It was fun.
Fast forward 25 years and 3D movies continue to use the same bag of tricks - except the only difference is that isn't fun anymore.
We've all seen these ridiculous "reach out and grab you or throw something at you" effects a hundred times. Is there an unwritten rule that two minutes after any 3D movie starts a meteor needs to fly two inches from your head or some character has to paddle a ball at your face, a la Monsters vs. Aliens?
Today's 3D entertainment is light years ahead of the poor quality, anaglyph B-movies of the 50s, but how 3D is used in cinematic presentations has hardly changed in those 50 years. However, it needs to... badly. These cheesy 3D effects no longer enhance or add to the 3D experience, nor do they bring me further into the story. Quite the opposite, in fact. The tired "whack-you-over-the-head" effects completely ruin it for me. Perhaps if these effects were integrated more seamlessly into the story they would be forgivable, but it always seems these tricks are added to a film just for their own sake. What else could take you out of another world faster than a reminder you're watching something in 3D?
I certainly understand the vast majority of 3D films made right now are animated features intended for kids, which only serves to further illustrate my point. I didn't grow up watching a ton of 3D material, but today's five-year-olds will... at the theater, and (eventually) at home. If I'm tired of it after four or five movies using the same tricks over and over, they'll be tired of it by the time next summer's blockbusters come around.
Does that mean there's no hope for 3D? Of course not. 3D, when used properly, should add a new dimension of depth and realism to what you see on screen. I've seen 3D done well, pariticularly at a gaming demo this January at CES. I was amazed how a simple over the shoulder action game could be enhanced by the increased depth and dimension. No cheesy effects, just added depth. It was mesmerizing; a three dimensional game world in three dimensions... is there anything more obvious? All it's going to take is a Cliff Bleszinski or John Carmack to prove once that a game can be truly enhanced by stereoscopic 3D, and gaming as we know it will change forever.
Most movies and television programs have equal opportunity to improve from stereoscopic 3D, but filmmakers and directors need to think of it as an enhancement to the delivery of their creation, like HD was over SD, and not as a tool they can "use." No one dramatically changed how shows were made because of HD, and that's why everything is better in HD. In other words, if they're doing something that can only be enjoyed in "3D" then they're doing it wrong. If 3D isn't enhancing the experience, then it shouldn't be in 3D. 2D has its merits, too.
3D's continued march into the mainstream is going to be filled with disasters. Clash of the Titans already proved a meaningless conversion to 3D can actually hurt the enjoyment of a film. Pixar and Dreamworks will no doubt continue to keep the 3D stereotype alive with film after film of forced, cheesy effects.
James Cameron came really close with Avatar, and while I believe it represents the best use of 3D to date, it was just too over the top. Not all 3D entertainment can be manufactured to the tune of $500 million. Someone has to step up and prove that good 3D entertainment doesn't need to be modeled after a theme park ride, can be done well without extensive use of CGI, and (most importantly) be done at a reasonable cost.
Perhaps Scorsese will be that someone?