The cynicism of most film "fans" is positively breathtaking these days. More and more often, I feel like a freak for not being instantly knee-jerk snarky and dismissive.
Case in point: "The Green Hornet." The news just broke that Sony is moving the film from December 22nd, 2010 to January 14, 2011. The reasoning behind the move is that Sony Imageworks is building out the film's various Kato-vision fight sequences in 3D, something they're doing from scratch. Keep in mind, this film is still nine months away from release, so this is absolutely not the same situation that recently played out with Warner's "Clash Of The Titans," which was totally finished when the studio made their choice to release it in 3D, requiring a major last-minute post-production process.
I'm on the record with my thoughts about "Clash," which was a train crash. Visually, nothing about that post-production process worked right, and why would it? Nothing about the sequence was designed to be in 3D or rendered that way, and the result was at best annoying and at worse headache-inducing. "Clash" was an embarrassment.
The difference here is that Imageworks is starting with the footage they have and building these sequences in 3D from day one. Yes... it's true that they didn't shoot the film in 3D on-set, but considering how extensive the visual effects work is in these sequences, having the FX house build everything out in 3D from start to finish is key. As a result, it's not accurate to just call this a "post-conversion," anymore than it's accurate to call it a conventional 3D film.
With film tech evolving as quickly as it is, people seem to seize on vocabulary and then beat it to death without really understanding what it is they're talking about. It's easy to use a term to sum something up, but if it's not accurate, are you doing your readers any good at all? The process they're using on "The Green Hornet" is somewhere between a conventional 3D film and something re-built in post, and as a result, I'm willing to go along with Sony calling it an "enhancement." I just hope they use the time they've got to do it right, because too many bad versions of this process will kill it completely for audiences.
I've seen footage from "The Green Hornet," and in particular, I've seen some of the "Kato-vision" fight sequences that will no doubt be a major visual signature for the film. I'm embargoed from any detailed reaction, but I'll say this much: I don't buy the anonymous, single-sourced "bad buzz" that fanboys seem to have embraced as fact in the last week or so. I don't buy that Sony didn't know what Seth Rogen looked like in the film until just recently. I don't buy that the tone of the film came as a surprise to them, especially since Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen were both so very clear about what the tone of the film is when we spoke to them. I think that the truth is that one report has set the tenor of the conversation, and until people see actual footage, I'm pretty sure nothing is going to change their minds.
Once they see that footage, though? Well, I'm curious to see how many of the people flooding Twitter with dismissive comments about the film right now change their tune.
Here's what Seth Rogen had to say about the move when I contacted him this afternoon:
"Evan Goldberg, Michel Gondry and myself could not be more excited about going 3D. The truth is that this is something that we have wanted since the very first conversations we all had about the film. A lot of the visually driven sequences Michel came up were first conceived for a 3D movie. After watching the first third of the film and working with Sony Imageworks, the studio decided now would be a perfect time to commit to 3D. Since it was always a dream of ours, the look of the film complements it perfectly. None of the effects shots have been started, none of the blue screen shots have been composited, and this lets us do all of it in 3D. What gets me most excited is the fact that Gondry is so enthusastic about it. I think that Gondry's visuals done in 3D will give us something we've never seen before."
A final point... the move to January isn't because it will take extra time to finish the film... it's because there will be precious few 3D screens available in December with five major releases already staking out those dates. By mid-January, some of those films will be wrapping up their run, and Sony has a chance at getting a major chunk of the screens available.
I have no idea if "The Green Hornet" will be great or terrible or anything in-between. I can only say that I've seen enough to find it promising, and today's news is hardly an admission that the film doesn't work. It sounds to me like Sony and the filmmakers have time to get this one right, and the desire. It all comes down to the execution at this point, and for that, I'm willing to wait until January to make my own personal judgment.
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