Monday, April 08, 2013

a blurry croods

Last week, when I took the kid to see The Croods I really couldn't believe my eyes. Had my eyes aged on the walk from the parking lot, or was the screen really that blurry? I noticed it first during the previews, when the text on the bright green preview slide was out of focus. I looked around, but everyone else in the theater seemed to be happily munching popcorn, unconcerend. I blinked and looked again, but the next preview was also really out of focus. I sighed and got up and went to tell one of the kids behind the snack counter to come and check out Theater 6.

The Croods, a modern Stone Age family (and in focus, here)
Tick tock. Tick tock. The previews ended and the feature started. There it was, the film title, "The Croods" in big, blurry, glory. Oh, come on! Up again to complain. The girl behind the counter said that "the projectionist" (I suspect the guy who got me my hot pretzel earlier) had already been up to check on 6 and thought everything was OK. I told her that the picture was still pretty blurry — could someone check again? She said he would. I returned to the theater. Still no one else seemed concerned, everyone was happily looking at the screen, watching a blurry movie. A few minutes later I could tell that an adjustment was being made, but it still didn't look right to me.

I considered asking for my money back, but that would mean uprooting my daughter and my mom, which would be a disruptive project unappreciated by the rest of the vision-challenged audience. I gave up. As I watched the film blur by, I wondered if 3D might have something to do with this. The Croods was released in 3D and 2D. Are the lens adjustments slightly different? We were watching a 2D version of the film (I really am not into the 3D experience or the inflated pricing). Was the film designed for 3D and the 2D version just not as good a print? Or am I, with my large-scale, high-definition television set at home just spoiled by sharpness? Is it that I am so thrilled, so spoiled by my sharp picture, with everything beautifully delineated (even more so on Blu-ray), that I just can't bear anything fuzzy around the edges? Maybe ...

Nicolas Cage as Grug
I have have had to get up a few times in the past and complain about the volume being too loud or some slight blurring while at the movies, but the problems were always eventually fixed. That didn't happen here, unfortunately. Roger Ebert has complained about film projection at multiplexes, and an article he cites by Ty Burr of The Boston Globe may provide the answer:
"Many theater managers have made a practice of leaving the 3D lenses on the projectors when playing a 2D film ... So why aren't theater personnel simply removing the 3D lenses? The answer is that it takes time, it costs money, and it requires technical know-how above the level of the average multiplex employee."
I'm still baffled by how no one else seemed to be as put out by the lack of sharpness as I was.

Oh, and how was The Croods, you might ask? It was cute. Nicolas Cage was wonderful voicing the dad, Grug. He actually turned in a performance. The story was fun and the completely made-up prehistoric environment looked like it was made with a lot of care. I just had a hard time seeing it flash by. I'll probably enjoy it a lot more when it comes on cable, and I can see it, bright and sharp and in focus.
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