Monday, July 2, 2012

How good is the 3D in MIB3?

Men In Black 3, in 3D. Too much e-ink has been spilled over the fact this is the second needless sequel in a series that should have remained in the 90s. Very little ink has been spent discussing the film's post-converted 3D job, and even less has been spent talking about how it was implemented. MIB3 just never attained 'event film' status this year, but we're keen to ask the hard questions anyway: how good is the 3D? Is it worth seeing the 3D version?


Shots of Barry Levinson's career using wide lenses for close-ups
The film-makers made a conscious decision to film in 2D, and then convert it after the fact. It seems they could have filmed in native 3D, had the key creatives preferred to do so. Ultimately they settled on post-conversion for a number of reasons. The most compelling is that the director, Barry Levinson, has always shot with really wide lenses, and usually frames the 'hero moments' dead-centre, just like the images you see to your right (Levinson is the dude in the right-hand corner). If you'd like to hear MIB3's director argue a bunch of well thought through reasons for post-conversion, then click this link here. As far as what's on screen is concerned, this is surely one of the best conversion jobs we've seen. We'll stick our necks out and say we preferred it to the work performed on The Avengers from a few months ago. Simply put, studios and the pros working for them are getting better and better at this technique.

Does the 3D 'pop'?

Boris in MIB3 3D
Yes. Often. Men In Black 3's director, said that films like Hugo and Avatar "put a lot of the depth behind the screen and put the convergence at the screen. I find that actually more distancing for the audience than if they’d actually released it in 2-D. What we did with convergence and depth is bring it much closer to the audience. So I loved the process—loved it—and what I’ve always visualized in 3-D was very easy for me." What he's saying is; he wanted things to jump out at you. He wanted debris to fly out in explosions; he wanted light to fill the theatre when Will Smith fires his neuralyzer; and he wanted lots of bugs to crawl out of things to disgusting effect. There is no screen!

How's the depth of the 3D?

Apollo mission in Men In Black 3
Put it this way; the biggest set-pieces are set atop massive structures, hundreds of feet in the air. If the Agents aren't battling bad guys atop a building or a crane, then the villains are on the moon itself... looking at Earth far away in the distance. In the first two Men In Black films, the series had a lot of fun with the idea of depth, zooming from something the size of a marble outwards to the edge of the universe itself. The third film is a lot more earth-bound, but it revels in the opportunity to give us (and the characters) vertigo. Without wanting to reveal too many spoilers, there's a sequence set around the launch of an Apollo mission that took 3Defence's breath away. To visualise the enormous size of those rockets for the first time was a real treat for space-nerds like us. You can read a bit about how they did it hereSo, the depth is great, well handled and executed!

Does it make sense to have added 3D to MIB3?

Will Smith atop the Chrysler Building
When we think back to the colour palette of the first two films, we think of a lot of brightly lit images set at night time. Typically, we'd not advocate for a 3D film in that type of environment (at least not until projectors get brighter). For Men In Black 3 though, much of the action is set during the day. Interesting stylistic choices have been made that give this film a bright and contrast-laden sepia quality, and this suits the tinted colours that 3D glasses offer. As a bonus, this film has many guns and aliens in the extreme foreground, and has a ton of interesting chameos and Rick Baker-created awesomeness in the background; it's worked out perfect that it's in 3D.

If we had to archive one version, should we save the 3D or the 2D?

Men In Black 3-D poster
The 3D version. The first two MIB movies already have 2D well covered. The third film seems to have deliberately changed locations, eras and colour-schemes to make this an enjoyable 3D experience. Ultimately, this series is meant to please, and the usage of 3D in this film adds to its 'theme park ride' quality. You're going to be places where you need not be, and see things that you need not see... so you might as well have fun doing it. The 3D version is just plain fun. Archive it!

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