I write 3D reviews for Home Theater Forum. I own a collection of well over 100 3D titles and have excellent knowledge of how those titles look on a quality home screen.
I am also very much aware of how awful today's Hollywood 3D releases have become. The industry has ruined the 3D format. It's failure has nothing to do with the public's disinterest in the format, but rather Hollywood's disinterest in providing anything thrilling to look at. Most (or nearly all, actually) of what is released today to theaters and Blu-ray are upconversions done in post production. This means that filmmakers simply shot their film flat and then converted it afterwards. This is not how it was done in the 1950s during the "Golden Era" of 3D filmmaking, and as thus, what Hollywood is giving us today is a pale comparison of what viewers were treated to decades ago.
The death of 3D is totally the fault of of today's filmmakers. Nobody believes in shooting natively in 3D, nor wants to provide the smallest amount of pop-out to give audiences something hair-raising to remember, long after the final credits roll.
Allow me to give you some "highlights" from my Home Theater Forum review. Some rewording has been done to provide better formatting here on Amazon.
3-D Rarities is the most prized Blu-ray in my library of well over 100 3D titles. It is the absolute best 3D title currently available -- and it accomplishes that task without being Avatar.
While some may greatly argue with my opinion, I beg you to read further, as I will attempt to explain why this release is so very, very important and how it succeeds in pleasing all audiences, whether you prefer dramatic pop-out or simply wonderful depth to enhance the onscreen visuals.
It all starts with my first meeting with 3-D Archive Preservationist, Robert Furmanek. It was not too surprising that he found me through this forum, given the fact that I was touting myself as an HTF 3D ADDICT. Knowing how much I appreciated the format, he invited to his home to treat me to a showing of classic archive material he was looking to get released. That meeting took place in 2012.
At that point, I had never seen any classic 3D material. Everything I knew about 3D was based upon recent releases. My opinion at the time was that anything from the classic era of 3D could never live up to the grandeur of Avatar or anything being brought to Blu-ray at the time. I could just imagine Mr. Furmanek's interest in showing me the material he had acquired.
That meeting with Bob Furmanek literally changed my life.
Now most of that material that I was privately shown can be shared with this release of 3-D RARITIES.
One of the most startling moments for me -- which brings home the historical significance of the contained material -- comes at the disc's very first presentation, Thru' The Trees. Here is a look at our nation's capitol during the early 1920s, including a reunion of Civil War veterans at Arlington Cemetery. Though the footage is a little rough, one gets a nice sense of depth and spacing while sitting in awe of the documented footage.
There are some terrific pop-outs that include an old hag delivering a poisonous concoction that extends off the screen before being thrown in your face. Later, a delivered hot dog protrudes so far off the screen that it comes inches from the the viewer's lips. The effect will be quite memorable for those that rarely see this kind of protrusion from their current 3D titles.
But Wait! Things are about to get even better. A sequence from 1935's John Norling/Jacob Leventhal tests takes us to the Thunderbolt rollercoaster on Coney Island. I swear to you, watching the coaster car climb to the very top of the tracks and then plunge itself downward, across a 118" projected screen, was a pretty queasy experience for me. I would estimate some others will feel exactly the same way no matter what their screen size.
Most viewers should enjoy the 1940 promotional short, Thrills For You, which features the Pennsylvania Railroad, the most elegant method of rail travel for its time. Though there is no pop-out to be found here, the method of photography provides a very interesting level of depth of the inside capacity of the train and the passing landscape alongside it.
Another highly enjoyable short (though a bit too lengthy for its own good) is New Dimensions, Chrysler's promotional short that premiered during the 1940 World's Fair. It took nine weeks to photograph the stop motion animation, set to music, which depicts the building of a Plymouth Sedan. The fascinating short provides an adequate amount of depth as automobile parts are "magically" placed into position. It should be noted that the short has been restored from the only known surviving 35mm Technicolor print. It looks wonderful.
There are several drawn animated features from Canadian resident Norman McLaren that include: Now Is The Time, Around Is Around and Twirligig. I found Twirligig the most captivating watch for its animated optics that come right off the screen and dance inches before the viewer's face. It's almost a hypnotic sort of sensation that should elicit a few "oohs" and "aaahs" from all who view it.
My favorite segment within this package M.L. Gunzburg Presents Natural Vision 3-Dimension. Originally shown in 1952 as a prologue to Bwana Devil, this short serves as an educational tool to audiences not familiar with the new technology that had just crept into their theaters. Not only does the short feature the beautiful Shirley Tegge (1949's Miss USA), but also the very popular Beany and Cecil who get to experiment with their own glasses. I hope viewers will find this as entertaining as I did, as I feel it is one of the best shorts within this assemblage.
For those of you who cherish trailers, there are plenty to be found here. We have four from 1953: It Came From Outer Space, The Maze, Miss Sadie Thompson and Hannah Lee. Though Hannah Lee succumbed to financial and technical problems prior to its release, in my opinion it is one of the best trailers in the collection due to its noteworthy pop-out near its close.
Perhaps the short that put the biggest smile on my face was the Casper The Friendly Ghost cartoon, Boo Moon, produced in 1953. You know, I haven't seen a Casper cartoon since I was a kid. Bob Furmanek had originally shown it to me back in 2012, but I had forgotten about it. So, when I saw the familiar logo and music suddenly appear onscreen, I felt like a kid all over again. This time, I was watching a full-fledged 3D cartoon -- and it looked AWESOME -- thanks to its perfectly layered placement of objects. No doubt, those of you who grew up in the Casper era are going to really enjoy this short.
What puts this collection at the very top of my HOME THEATER FORUM TOP 3D TITLES list is partly historic, but more for the fact that it will please those who love pop-out and those who love only depth that the format provides. Most everything presented here has a very "exaggerated" dimensional look and feel to it. Those who grew up with View-Master stereoscopes are really going to appreciate the intensity of the 3D. Those who like pop-out, on the other hand, are going to be exceptionally thrilled by a myriad of close encounters with objects that project themselves directly at the audience. This is the kind of stuff that Hollywood of today won't even consider doing. And, if you are as bored with today's 3D filmmaking as I am, you will view 3-D Rarities as a breath of fresh air.
I would estimate that because you are reading this review, you love film and have a keen interest in 3D. Well, imagine yourself going into an old attic, rummaging around the multitude of spider-web covered artifacts that are strewn across the floor. Suddenly, you uncover an old box without a label. You open it -- and behold -- you find an aged collection of 3D movie reels. Your entire body tingles with excitement knowing the treasure you have just uncovered.
That is the feeling I had when I first saw much of this material for the first time back in 2012. I experienced the same feeling this very week when I watched 3-D Rarities for the first time and discovered even more stuff I had never seen before.
And you know what? This isn't even the tip of the iceberg as far as what material still lies out there. I have seen things in Bob Furmanek's personal collection that may never be released. HTF Members who came out to our 2012 meet were treated to much of the same material that is copyright protected and may never see the light of day.
This is the real stuff when it comes to 3D. It's the kind of disc you'll throw on to demonstrate to friends exactly what your system is capable of producing. Don't expect today's Hollywood films to come close to the the level of dimensional enjoyment you will experience here.