Simply put, has anyone ever attended a 2-D movie and thought, ‘If only it were in 3-D’? I doubt it, because 2-D creates a perfectly effective illusion of depth and dimension. When I see Lawrence growing from a dot far across the desert sands, it never occurs to me that I’m watching a 2-D image. When I watch 3-D, however, I’m constantly reminded that it’s in 3-D. Objects approach and recede alarmingly, drawing you out of the actual film.
Animators are among the worst perpetrators. They seem obsessed with a 3-D bungee effect, in which characters such as the Kung Fu Panda spring from far below into the near-foreground, their faces frenzied, and then fall back to earth like Wile E. Coyote. It crystallises much that is wrong with the process. The planes of a 3-D picture are rarely rendered into a seamless progression from foreground to background, as in 2-D, but call attention to themselves. Characters seem more concerned to demonstrate their dimensions than their personalities. And, by its nature, the entire 3-D image must be in focus at all times, depriving cinematographers of the use of focal planes. The process is an annoyance and a distraction.