Movies: My Bloody Valentine 2009: A Commentary on 3-D vs 2-D

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Several people have already written some excellent reviews of this movie for EclipseMagazine so this is going to be mostly a commentary on the movie that will be mainly focused on the 3-D version vs the 2-D version with some comparisons to the 1981 My Bloody Valentine. Some of the content will be of a reviewer’s nature however.

I know that with the advances in the way a 3:D movie is formatted – to quote Jensen Ackles ‘this isn’t your grandma’s 3-D – and that the movie industry is ready to embrace this new technology, I am going to be right up front about this, having seen both versions of the new, updated My Bloody Valentine movie I have to say that I personally think that the 2-D version is better than the 3-D version when it comes to telling the story and seeing how good a job the actors really did in this movie. I also know that the executives at Lionsgate, the producers of the movie and the actors are all gung ho about the 3-D special effects for My Bloody Valentine. However to me as a viewer, no matter how technologically advanced and super whiz-bang as they are in this movie the 3-D aspect  just -and no pun intended- strips the heart out of the story and reduces the movie to nothing more than a series of fancy visual effects,

This is not to say I didn’t have an appreciation of the new 3-D technology employed in the 3-D version of My Bloody Valentine and I certainly like the new style of 3-D glasses (and yes I kept mine because I consider them paid for with the ticket price). I thought the technology was awesome and visually stunning. I jumped and cringed at all right moments. I appreciated how the 3-D effect brought out textures and depth to the scenes and especially to the visual presence of the actors on screen.

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Jensen Ackles is a stunningly handsome man as it is and every line, angle and design of his features and build were made for such presence of depth on the big screen. The same for Jaime King, Kerr Smith and Megan Boone.  As for the lovely Besty Rue, who plays the ill-fated Irene, what can I say except it takes a woman with a very strong and centered sense of self to be seen totally naked in this kind of an ‘in your face’ technology that puts your body so ‘right there’ in front of the audience that you might as well actually really be there in the flesh. She’s a far braver woman than I am, that’s for sure.

However as much as it was very impressive and cool to look at, the 3-D technology in my opinion, served to fragment and compartmentalize the movie into individual scenes where the audience isn’t so much following the story as they are busy watching the ‘in your face’ effects and focusing on them instead of the story or the acting in it.

Jensen Ackles may be a stunningly handsome man, but more than that, he is very talented and versatile actor whose mastery of his craft (along with co-star Jared Padalecki’s as well) has made Supernatural a hit television series for the CW and Warner Bros.  Kerr Smith and Jamie King are also talented actors as well so when I came out of the 3-D showing not overly impressed with the performances in the film, it took me a while to realize it had less to do with the actors and more to do  with how much the 3-D effect and the fragmenting it created just overshadowed the story and the actors in it.

The synopsis of the movie lays the story of this updated version of My Bloody Valentine as this:

Ten years ago, a tragedy changed the town of Harmony forever. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles of Supernatural), an inexperienced coal miner and son of the mine owner, caused an accident in the tunnels that trapped six men and sent the only survivor, Harry Warden who had killed the other five to increase his own chances of survival, into a seemly permanent coma. But exactly one year later on Valentine’s Day Harry Warden woke up deranged and out for revenge against anyone involved themselves with the Hanniger Mine, especially young Tom Hanniger. Warden went on a rampage brutally murdering twenty-two people with a pickaxe before being supposedly killed.

Ten years later, Tom Hanniger returns to Harmony on Valentine’s Day, still haunted by the death and by his own near fatal run in with the rampaging Harry Warden ten years earlier. Struggling to make amends with his past, he grapples with unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Sarah (Jamie King of The Spirit), who is now married to his best friend, Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith of Dawson’s Creek), the town sheriff. But tonight, after years of peace, something from Harmony’s dark past has returned. Wearing a miner’s mask and armed with a pickaxe, an unstoppable killer is on the loose. And as his footsteps come ever closer, Tom, Sarah and Axel realize in terror that it just might be Harry Warden who’s come back to claim them.

I was intrigued by the storyline that was set up for this updated version of MY BLOODY VALENTINE which is directed by Patrick Lussier from a screenplay by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, based on a screenplay by John Beaird, story by Stephen Miller and was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. I also have to give kudos to Todd Farmer who as the truck driver in the movie who has wild sex with Irene and then dies at the hands of the killer is obviously one writer who doesn’t write anything for the actors in a movie to do that he isn’t willing to also do on screen himself. I was way impressed by that.

So imagine my disappointment when I finished watching the 3-D version and the storyline and characterizations, while superior to the 1981 version, just seemed to lack cohesion and the acting seemed barely there. It took me awhile to realize that being forced to focus on the cool whiz-bang 3-D moments, my attention was distracted from the story and acting. So I decided to go again and see the movie in 2-D.

I know this might not be what the studio that is asking the audience to embrace the 3-D technology wants to read about, but the truth is as soon as I started watching My Bloody Valentine in 2-D, it became a much better movie to me. Without the distraction of being overwhelmed by the individual 3-D moments and the overall 3-D appearance, the cohesion of the plot line fell into place. Without the 3-D, the movie is focused on the story and the characters and you begin to see the real quality of acting that was going on in the movie.

Without the 3-D in the way, the characters come to the forefront because of the actors playing the roles, not because some fancy visual effect makes them look so physically real you could reach out and touch them. Quite honestly while watching the 2-D version I found myself seeing Tom Hanniger in all his emotions, issues and place in the story rather than having my vision filled with wonder of the almost touchable images of the ‘magnificent to gaze upon’ Mr. Jensen Ackles. The same with Jamie King, Kerr Smith and the others. In the 2-D version the actors got the chance to ‘step back’ as it were and be seen as their characters and not as good looking actors that the viewer has the novelty of admiring in such an up close almost extremely personal and voyeuristic manner to which they would not have even under the normal circumstances of meeting the actors in person.

In the 2-D version of My Bloody Valentine, I got caught up in the story, in the suspense of it and the psychological aspects of the lives of the characters. For me it became what a movie, any movie whether it be horror or drama is suppose to be— a story about the characters, not about the visual effects. Without the ‘in your face’ technology, I was able to see an actor I consider extremely talented and versatile, which is what Jensen Ackles is, doing his work and doing it well. Not to say there weren’t moments that, even in the 2-D version, where he didn’t seem to quite be throwing his full acting weight into the role and seemed to be coasting along, because there were those moments. However I understand that the filming of this movie was grueling at times for all the actors and the exhaustiveness of that showed in all of their performances at various points in the movie.

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Overall, and in either version, I like the updated version of My Bloody Valentine. As I said it is far superior to the 1981 version. I also like that, as in the original version, the characters are all adults of varying age ranges and not just teens and twenty-somethings. Both the original and the updated version of My Bloody Valentine shows that scary horror can and does happen to adults. The difference between the original and the updated is the characters in the updated one are not one dimensional borderline campy like they were in the original. They have textured and complicated lives and checked histories. The build up about the issue of Harry Warden was far superior in the updated version and lent more credibility to his place as a killer.

The one thing I liked better about the 1981 original My Bloody Valentine? The tag line.

‘There’s more than one way to lose your heart’.

That’s just way cooler than ‘He’s gonna break your heart’.

The updated version was, according to the publicity by the actors and writers, to have some comedic elements to it that would make the audience laugh out loud. I only found one such incident for myself. In the mine sequence where Harry Warden is killing the kids who are having a Valentine’s Day party, one hapless victim-to-be shines a flashlight on the killer and calls out ‘Jason is that you’. I got a kick out of what appears to be a not so subtle but good natured ‘our killer is way cooler than you killer’  shout out at the upcoming Friday the 13th re-imagining, which stars Ackles’ Supernatural costar, Jared Padalecki and opens on February 13th of 2009.

Of course the down side to not being distracted by what I consider the disconnecting of scenes created by the 3-D effect is that you also get to notice some continuity issues and some things that don’t quite fit. Things I noticed was Harry Warden waking up from supposedly being in a coma for a year and yet he is clearly not only wearing a pair of contact lens but they are type that weren’t even invented ten years ago. Sarah Palmer has a run in with the killer and gets a heavy bandage put on her arm, a bandage that mysteriously vanishes a few scenes later. When Axel and Tom sit down in the interrogation room to talk about something Tom witnessed, the hands on the clock on the wall are at 4:35. As they talk the wall clock is mysteriously missing from the wall, but when only a few minutes later the guys are physically struggling with each other the clock is not only back on the wall where it can be knocked off during the struggle but the hands are now at 5:35.

The last thing I want to mention in my commentary is something that I don’t think got nearly enough attention from the press who covered this movie. Yes it has the legendary horror icon Tom Atkins in it,but the movie also had the still amazing Kevin Tighe in it as well. Ok so I was always more of a ‘Johnny Gage Girl’ back in the day, but I liked me some Roy Desoto too.

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So my conclusion in all of this is, go and see the 3-D version of My Bloody Valentine to experience the cool new effect (and see how stunning Jensen Ackles looks that close up), but if you really want to go and see the story and how well the actors really did in this movie, then also take in the 2-D version as well.

My Bloody Valentine Photos courtesy of and Copyright2009 to Lionsgate Films.

9 thoughts on “Movies: My Bloody Valentine 2009: A Commentary on 3-D vs 2-D”

  1. Well, looks like I’ll just have to go see the 2D version now. I hadn’t considered that the 3D would take away from the story in a way that the other version wouldn’t. Very interesting; thanks for this!

  2. This is very interesting food for thought in examining if the 3D effects overshadowed the story and the acting. It is quite possible they did. We were so busy ooo-ing and aaah-ing at the amazing 3D effects, that we may not have paid as close attention to the story and the acting as we should have. The story actually had some substance to it, and the acting by Ackles, Kerr, and King was at a high level considering this was basically a horror/slasher. 3D vs. 2D… definitely something to think about here.

  3. I have to agree that the 3D version did take away from the story line. A lot to handle, definitely would recommend the 2-D version first and then if you enjoyed the film enough go see in 3-D.

  4. you said you kept the 3D glasses because you considered them part of the ticket price. Did they expect you to return them or did you just decide for yourself to keep them? If you kept them that could be considered stealling (although a very mild form of it – worse than drinking, then adding more soda to your Big Gulp at 7 11 before paying for it — but better than just taking something off a shelf without paying)

  5. Neighbor let’s address this using your analogy of the Big Gulp drink.

    When you buy the drink, you don’t just put your mouth under the fountain and go for it. Part of your purchase price includes a cup that is necessary and needed for you to enjoy the drink.

    You are not obligated to finish your drink and leave the cup in the store after you are done. You can take the cup with you if you like and use it at home or whatever. Because you needed the cup, it is part of the purchase price and therefore yours to take or leave as you chose.

    Like the cup for the purchased drink to be consumed, the 3D glasses were necessary to be able to see the movie in it’s 3D format.

    Since there was no one demanding that the glasses be returned or no stipulation made anywhere by anyone that they had to be returned then in my opinion, the glasses like the any drink cup were part of the purchase price and therefore are mine to keep or discard as I choose.

    I have no plans to use them for any illegal or neferious plans. They are simply a memento and an item I am looking forward to having Jensen Ackles sign.

  6. The difference is that Big Gulp cups are disposable. You actually answered my question when you said no one at the theater expected the 3D glasses to be returned – no usher or cardboard box was collecting them after use, as in IMAX theaters. In that case, the glasses would be yours free and clear. Good luck getting the autograph – I presume the guy you mention is the one who plays the serial killer.

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