(It takes three to be banished from my sight)

So why haven’t I seen any films this year*? Beyond the FilmX reason, I blame James Cameron. Perhaps it is a bit of an over-reaction to boycott ALL films because the self styled King Of The World finally deigned to make a film after ten years, but what a film. Avatar, and its rubbish font, has been so all encompassing that someone has to take a stand. And don’t scoff, I didn’t see Titanic in the cinema, and he didn’t make a film for ages. So me boycotting Avatar has form.

What I am boycotting is not so much the blue anthropomorphic noble savage bobbins of the extravagantly long movie. I am not even boycotting Sam Worthington not being digitally edited out of the film, even though it was clear from Terminator Salvation that he was as wooden at Harrison Ford’s pre-movie career material of choice. I would probably be pro an original science fiction movie attempting to intelligently use cinema to raise some interesting points about human nature, and apparently Avatar is not that. But I could just let it go and watch the other films coming out this year. So why boycott all films because of Avatar?

3D. I’ve had mild rants about 3D before, and my reasons may be clearer than most. I do not see in 3D in day to day life, I have monoscopic vision and I am used to a world where judgement and perspective is more than enough to give the my world depth. Perhaps this is why I like cinema so much, it looks like my world. And Jeffry Katzenberger in eulogising 3D accepted that it might actually give a headache to a small group of people who have exactly my ocular issue. But until Avatar 3D was a sideshow attraction. It was for kids films and horror movies. It wasn’t for serious adult films and it cost a bit too much for the big blockbusters. Now its still not for serious adult films, but all the blockbusters will be post-converting and every studio is taking 3D seriously. And it will be the albatross of the age. (We are already getting reviews of the new Clash Of The Titans with a couple of lines about how poor the 3D version is in comparison to the 2D.)

Its all about the “3D immersive experience”, for which read it’ll make you feel a bit sick, give you a headache and distract you exactly when it should be entertaining you. 3D creates a real issue about viewpoint, and the position of the viewer. It actively tricking your senses that there is some blurring line between where the cinema ends and the onscreen world begins. We know this is not true, we know that when those spears are thrown at the audience they are not real. And yet out brain is fooled into reacting due to the visceral reaction. 3D plays with our instincts, with the primitive brain, with fight or flight. I don’t really want my gut to be whipping up the endorphins I want to keep in reserve for when I am actually being mugged in piss alley outside the Holloway Odeon. I want there to be a definite dividing line between me and the story, because the story needs me to be separate from it to work. If you aren’t separate from the story, it is part of your life. A lot is said about suspension of disbelief in the discussion of fiction, but I want that to be an active judgement, not one that my forebrain is battling with my rational brain for.

Now I don’t have any problems with the idea of interactive fiction, from role playing, tabletop or computer or bedroom. Or indeed just acting, or improv. But it strikes me that the participant in those kinds of fiction are able to to make choices about how much they believe, participate and play along with the scenario. A role playing game falls down if the response to “you are in a dark dungeon where three goblins are eating some chicken” is “NO I’M NOT”. But surely this is what is happening constantly in your brain when watching Avatar. If successful your brain will be tricked into believing in the reality of Pandorum, to the extent that you need to constantly remind yourself that you are not.

So I will be registering my protest by staying at home, watching the odd DVD, where I know the walls of my flat surround me to remind me that it is all just on a screen. Or if I need the visceral thrill of an extra dimension, wave a table lamp in front of my face in good old fashioned Dial M For Murder fashion. Or at least until the 3D conversion process goes back to do a few black and white films. If only the re-release of Psycho was in 3D. (Or indeed Gus Van Sant’s remake.)

*Clearly I have seen plenty of DVD’s. Only yesterday I watched Stormriders, an Andy Lau fantasy martial arts film with the cheesiest computer effects ever. For all its flaws, it really does show up the opportunities that computer effects brought these kind of wuxia fantasies which are now so seemless that it is taken for granted. In particular the proud credit sequence where all the green screen was laid bare, I can’t think of the last time I saw a film that contained its own “making of” (gag reels and injury tracks aren’t really the same thing).