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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

Share some 1950s-era fun with a kid

If you re a senior and looking for something fun to do with your grandkids that you ll love too, re-live one of your childhood memories and take them to a 3-D movie.

They will thank you for the treat, and you ll enjoy the time bonding with the kids as you share an experience they genuinely enjoy.

Most retirees can remember the heyday of 3-D movies in the early and mid-1950s. That s when audiences wrapped cardboard 3-D glasses around their heads and first felt the thrill of objects on the screen jumping out at them.

The realism of the 3-D phenomenon has come a long, long way as seen in the current theatrical release, Journey to the Center of the Earth.

If you recall, the movie that started the initial 3-D craze was Bwana Devil in 1952, starring Robert Stack, Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce. It was mostly forgettable other than the new gimmick, but spawned more flicks that tried to cash in on the 3-D idea.

The first 3-D movies were available as far back as 1922, but never caught on with movie patrons. Projection difficulties, something involving alignment and synchronization, caused considerable audience discomfort.

I m not going to get into any further technical explanation, mainly because I don t have a clue how and why the process works, but in 2008 it has become an extremely realistic and exciting departure from the normal movie experience.

In its infancy, 3-D films featured lions leaping from the screen or cowboy and Indian fights with flaming arrows and spears parting your hair as you munched your popcorn or gobbled Jujubes.

You might be surprised to learn that some film hits were shot in 3-D, but were rarely seen in that format and enjoyed wider success in 2-D, such as Hondo, Kiss Me Kate and Dial M for Murder.

The cheap-looking Creature from the Black Lagoon was originally released in 3-D, but projection problems shelved those versions, and the 2-D reels were what most movie-goers saw.

The 3-D gimmick was soon relegated entirely to low-budget flicks, and it didn t take long for studios to forget the whole experiment.

Now, the remake of Journey To The Center Of The Earth with Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem and Josh Hutchison lifts the 3-D technique to a whole, new level of audience hook. The 1959 version with Pat, Boone, James Mason and Arlene Dahl was as cheesy, but not nearly as thrilling.

The 2008 choice of 3-D movie is a good one, too, because it offers more than leaping lions with gnashing teeth. It gives you leaping fish with gnashing teeth.

Instead of the viewers dodging arrows, they get to dodge fluorescent birds.

The whole effect is actually quite dazzling. It s so realistic at times that you feel you can reach into the screen and grab hold of something. At one point, it looked like a lantern was floating right in front of the guy sitting next to me.

But as good as the 3-D effect is, and as exciting as it makes the movie experience, it can t rescue what is otherwise a very ordinary film, albeit one with extraordinary, exciting scenes and action.

It s not just the fast-paced action where the 3-D is felt so keenly, as was the case when it was introduced some 55 years ago. Now; its depth is felt in every single scene where the viewer seems physically drawn into what s going on in front.

As another example of how far 3-D has come, those cardboard glasses have been replaced by genuine plastic. Just like in the 1950s, there are recycle bins at the exits to dispose of them so they can be re-used. They re of no practical use for anything else.

The riveting, fantasy adventure will likely be enjoyed by all who see it, young or old. But do the young- uns another favor and share one more thing with them. It might even be a good gift idea.

Tell them the experience can be as exciting or even more so, lasting longer than two hours, if they d pick up the Jules Verne book and actually read the story.

They might find that hard to believe.

And if they say they avoid books and only read a computer screen, point them to an edited version of Verne s original text online.

Michael at Chik-fil-A commented on Drama in the mall food court

Good commentary on what goes on not only in the mall but every day in America. I can fully relate as this same situation happened to my wife and her mother. It's a tough thing to do. My heart goes out to those.

Larry E. commented on A wave of activity in a flooded basement

I'm sorry to hear about your water episode, I know that can be a real mess. Hopefully you are well on the way to recovery from that and check your sump pump frequently! I check my sump all the time. I even recently purchased a water-driven pump that works if electricity fails. Have not installed it yet but I will. If you re not at home and the sump fails, this will eliminate that potential problem.



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