3-D movies can be done well and they can be done badly. Unfortunately, people have seen too many movies with the bad kind of 3-D and thus think that they hate the format when in fact they really don't know it. I am compiling a report of the quality of 3-D for every month. Some of the movies could still be in theaters so you could consider seeing them based on this, or watch these if you have a 3-D player when they arrive on DVD. Or at least read this years later when 3-D home viewing is easier to come by. Still, the biggest reason I write this is that I hope readers who have seen the movies in 3-D will know how that movies' 3-D compares to other movies' 3-D. Then there might be less of a negative view towards what is in truth a great new invention.
Before reading this some people willlikely think "I hate 3-D because the glasses darken the image so much." Sometimes this is the case but I will tell you if it is. Now, obviously, if you watch the movie in 3-D and take off your glasses in the middle you will notice how much brighter the screen is. THAT DOES NOTE MEAN THE 2-D IS THAT BRIGHT--a well-made movie will lighten the 3-D version with the expectation it will be darkened by wearing glasses. It sounds simple but you would be surprised how many people think that a 3-D version viewed without glasses is the same as an out-of-focus 2-D one. The movies are presented in chronological order.
A 3D movie made for less than $80 million is almost always bound to have poor quality 3D, and these odds increase exponentially when you add major stars (who gouge out huge portions of the budget). I was pleasantly surprised by how good Journey’s 3D is. There is no superfocus and there are rarely any depth issues. If there is one problem it is that the 3D highlights the scenery so well it can occasionally seem artificial (though I have no idea whether this is because of actual plastic props or digitally inserted background). Still, the 3D in general is a great addition to an already fun fantasy adventure. Hollywood has noticed: Director Brad Peyton was just contracted for an adaptation of the popular comic character Lobo, signifying they believe he is bankable with higher profile picture. A good choice seeing he did so much with so little in only his second feature film of his life!
People tend to forget this, but this movie revolutionized the visual effects industry. There was barely any motion capture technology before this. Andy Serkis and Gollum were important, but long before that Phantom Menace managed to have real actors with real movements play the role and then turn it into fantastic creatures.
So, is George Lucas able to outdo himself with the 3D rerelease? Mostly, yes. There isn’t a single error in the 3D in this picture—the depth is perfect, the focus is perfect, the world you are seeing actually looks real. On the downside, The Phantom Menace was not made to be converted into 3D. There aren’t any scenes that use it to great effect—few landscape shots, or scenes looking down long distances, or scenes with perfectly focused background images. As a result, people might be a little disappointed that the 3D is just there—it isn’t an extra element to the story.
Also, for better or for worse, Lucas is in adamant opposition of using 3D to thrust images at the viewer. He has a point—it usually breaks the fourth wall, and it is this gimmicky style that prevents people from taking 3D seriously. Then again, viewers might want an in-your-face reminder of why they paid extra for a 3D ticket.
This movie was made for $57 million: More than $30 million less than its predecessor. As a result, every shot looks low budget and cheap and not like an actual Ghost Rider film. For example, the movie often uses “Ghost Rider Vision” to show the action from Ghost Rider’s point of view. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider apparently sees an all-black background and a video-game style representation of his foe (in slow motion).
The 3D is not the worst part of the visuals by any measure, but it isn’t great. The background is often blurred out because it costs more to convert it. Also, the movie is shot in locations like “a vacant lot” and “a cave” and “a construction site.” Those places are cheap, but they are also bland and don’t have much of a background. Therefore 3D isn’t really noticeable or necessary.
People will accuse the 3D of causing the image to look dark and grimy, but that is in fact the cinematography. Cinematography employed when the studio refuses to give the cinematographers any money or equipment to work with.
On the up side, the 3D is the only thing that isn’t actively bad. So you might want to see it in 3D for that reason. Or not see it at all.
Illumination Studios has quickly risen to Blue Sky Animation levels of visuals and could very soon rival Dreamworks and Pixar in terms of special effects. It still has a long way to go with story-telling, but that doesn’t mean its movies like Despicable Me and now The Lorax don’t look amazing.
The 3D in The Lorax is great. The world stretches out before the viewer and the depth is used to aid the story. There is no superfocus, meaning that you won’t go blind trying to see which thing to look at. At the same time there is still a lot of background so you know why you paid to see it in 3D. And as a plus for the 3D industry, the movie doesn’t chuck 3D objects in your face like Despicable Me.
In my review of this film I said the 3D was “solid but unspectacular.” I stand by that statement for the most part, though perhaps I was a little harsh. There are occasional errors in depth perception and the movie doesn’t use it as much as it could (or should, considering how the fantasy epic genre is supposed to be composed of long shots gazing at the scenery). That said, it is rarely poor quality, and the added dimension is probably a big part of how the world can become engrossing. John Carter is on a massive scale and it would almost be silly to have these level visuals compact into a flat picture. I think the 3D is worth it for those who like 3D, but should not be sought out by those who are more ambivalent.
Director Jonathan Libesman is unaccustomed to 3D technology and thus doesn’t use it as much as he should, and the dark, coarse cinematography and shaki-cam effects don’t lend themselves to the 3D style. That said, the 3D here is pretty good. The depth is never inaccurate and the action definitely looks cooler when you see it stretching out in front of you—I think without the 3D you wouldn’t get the scale of the army, the size of the monsters, or the height and depth of the fantasy world. The best parts are in the Labyrinth, where the spinning walls and bridges strait out Hogwarts seem all the more incomprehensible—and lethal—when seen in this format. It is a great start to atone for the blow Wrath’s predecessor did to 3D technology’s reputation.