I really should have known better. I am old enough and have enough film experience to know better. Oh no, I couldn't listen to the experienced side of my brain, instead I had to listen to the bit that was saying: "Oh cool! I gotta have that!" Why couldn't my proper sense have kicked in sooner? I guess we'll never know. In my hands is the new release of The Polar Express, this time (just as the title proclaims) it is presented in glorious 3D. There it is, the gimmick that is intent on convincing you to double dip on a title that was originally released to DVD back in 2005. Let me tell you, get the original release, or if you must get this one, toss the 3D disc and stick to the original2D version.
So, there I was sitting in my room, lights turned down, ready to catch a bit of the Christmas spirit. I put in the disc labeled "3D," placed the cardboard glasses over my eyes and pressed play. Before the Polar Express even arrived to pick up our boy, my eyes ached and my brain pleaded for mercy. The fuzzy, ghostly images were too much to take and I had to claw the glasses from my eyes lest I become permanently fuzzed. There is no way I could watch it. I doubt anyone else can either. Quite frankly, it does nothing but a disservice to the new 3D technologies being enjoyed in the cineplex.
When The Polar Express first arrived in theaters in November 2004 it was simultaneously released in 3D on IMAX screens, the first Hollywood feature to be distributed in this fashion. It proved to be a popular draw and has been an annual tradition at select theaters each holiday season since. However, there is a very big difference between that 3D and the 3D presented here. IMAX 3D is a polarizing process that has two images presented on the screen that were passed through a polarizing filter paired with polarized glasses that only let through the appropriately polarized light creating the illusion of three dimensions. Yes, that is only a surface-depth explanation, but it gives you the general idea. The best thing about it is that it works, it looks good and does not rely on red and blue cellophane to do the job.
The 3D technology on the new DVD is the old school red/blue anaglyph style 3D. This is the style used before the dawn of polarized 3D. It was used most recently, theatrically, for Robert Rodriguez's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl in 3D. It does not work well and generally results in headaches, at least in my experience. Unfortunately, it seems that Hollywood still thinks it is a viable gimmick for home use. They are wrong. Avoid this like the plague.