Those of you who read CrunchGear regularly might already know that I’m the resident optimist when it comes to 3D. I fended off Ebert’s attacks on it, and made a comprehensive guide for those who like reading lots of words. But I’m no drone. I’m not going to defend The Last Airbender, for instance.
So when I hear that there may be a full theatrical 2D-to-3D conversion of A New Hope actually in the works, you better believe the knives will come out.
Before anything else, let’s just admit that the basis for the rumor is pretty shaky, although the idea of a 3D Star Wars has been around for years. An interview with two Lucasfilm sound engineers revealed that a key sound effect (Obi-Wan’s scream to scare off the sand guy) has been redone again. So it’s for the Blu-ray release, right? No, apparently the HD remastering for that was finished in 2007. So this must be a new new version. And Lucas has stated his interest in 3D, even doing early work on a conversion of A New Hope. But this is the first we’ve seen of real production money going that way. Kind of thin, but it’s a good excuse as any to write a tirade against this nonsense.
I mean really, I don’t trust George Lucas to dress himself in the morning, much less oversee a complete overhaul of a beloved series. Oh, he already did that? That’s right, and what was the result? Yeah, Han Solo dodges a laser and the Sarlacc pit turned into Seymour. As far as I’m concerned, Lucas is a hack who got lucky and has been blowing it for more than 20 years straight now. Keep him away from my Star Wars.
2D-to-3D is also unsuitable for the effect style used in Star Wars. The miniatures and analog effects used to such incredible effect in the original trilogy do not lend themselves to conversion. The richness of the models demands a level of visual richness not achievable by painted-on layers or even more sophisticated 3D model layering. And think about the lightsabers. A technical nightmare for the artists having to rotoscope every frame. And the blown-out halos, how do you plan on reconciling the glow with the background visible through it? And a thousand other questions that arise because the whole movie was shot with an analog finality and is simply not reconcilable with 3D conversion. If you’re going to do a movie in 3D, do a movie in 3D. I can’t guarantee the new Mad Max is going to be any good, but at least they’re doing something right.
Besides all that, wouldn’t all this work be better applied elsewhere? The movies are great; leave them alone. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of man-hours here to do something that should never have been even contemplated. Why not try something new, for god’s sake?
I really, really hope this doesn’t happen, yet at the same time I know it will. Lucas has stated his purpose and it seems that the Lucasfilm machine is grinding away. Will it pervert even further the serendipitous power and purity of the original trilogy? Yes. But more importantly, will it make a shit ton of money? You better believe it. Case closed.