Saturday, March 24, 2007

Meet the Robinsons 3D

Last night, Rachael and I saw Meet the Robinsons 3D at the Vue West End in London. There must have been all of twenty people in the audience. Why so few? The answer was all too obvious on leaving.

Walking back to the coach to Oxford, we must have passed a dozen bus-stop ads for the film but every last one of them listed the film's opening date as March 30th, not even hinting at the week long of exclusive engagements for the film's 3D version across London. Even within thirty metres of the cinema, the ads gave no indication that the film was already open to the public. A most unexpected soft launch, I have to say.

Next week, when the public are aware that the film is out, I'm sure that business will be far better.

I hope a lot of people make the effort to see the film in 3D. Regular readers will know, I'm very excited by the Real D process and have thoroughly enjoyed the extra-dimensional versions of Chicken Little and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Robinsons, however, is quite easily the most wonderful showcase of Real D so far.

The very first shot was simply breathtaking - a street lit by sodium lamps in the heavy rain. The shot would have been striking in 2D but with the added depth, the cascading fields of rain, it was - and I'm being utterly sincere - one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced in the cinema. The sound design helped too, of course, but this was one of the most tactile moments I've ever enjoyed on the silver screen.

There were plenty of other gasp-inducing moments later in the film: a chase through an industrial dystopia features a plunging rush into a tight corrdior that trumps any Death Star assault or dog fight from Star Wars; a Gernsback-flavoured city might evoke The Jetsons and Blue Sky's Robots but is rendered with smile-inducing sense of scale beyond either; even the contemporay sequences, far from such fantastical vistas, are designed to make the most of the extra dimension without either inducing 3D fatigue or wasting the opportunity of stereoscopic rendering.

If you can, make the effort to see Meet the Robinsons in it's 3D incarnation. Thankfully, finding a Real D equipped cinema is easier than ever: indeed, you can't even see the film in 2D in New York city. But even in 2D the film would have been a lot of fun, despite the occaisonal tangle in the script and a handful of semi-redundant longeurs. The colour design is smart, there's plenty of great animation, some good gags (two of the best of which are about Tom Selleck, one easier to miss than the other) and plenty of decent voice acting - particularly the opening ramble by Matthew Josten as Goob which just cannot have been scripted. I do wish there was more organic 'imperfection' like this in the film, and in animation generally.

Stephen J. Anderson is yet another director to come out of Disney to show real promise. I hope he's nurtured and given the chance to grow, because like the rest of them, he's only a few more minor missteps from a genuine masterpiece. Already he's made one of the most enjoyable films of 2007 so far... with a little help from Real D and their magic.

Man, I just can't wait for Beowulf.

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