My First 3D Movie, I Took The Plunge with Tron: Legacy [Thumbs Up]

by on December 19, 2010

in Entertainment, movie reviews

Real 3D - 3D Movie Experience

From the very start of this new 3D movie fad, I’ve been asking “Why?”  If a story is good enough, the visual shouldn’t really matter and it seemed to be a profit booster.  But I have to say that though I thought it didn’t matter, it sure seemed to create a better movie experience with Tron: Legacy!  Wow!  Yet despite my initial reaction, I have to keep in mind that not all 3D movies are candidates for the best 3D experience.

In this article, I get a bit wordy.  So I’ll describe what I’ve chatted about and left large section titles in the article for ease of location! I quickly touch on the when this all started, some of the curses of 3D on some movies, how I chose my first movie and my detailed experience at the theater with the ads, the movie trailers and the movie itself.  I also touch on the financial practicality for the average movie goer and this new venue to watch movies in.  Read on and see what I have to say, and yes, I mention Tron: Legacy a lot.  It is the movie that changed my mind about the process!

The Fad & The Profit

James Cameron filming Avatar in 3D

When 3D first started hitting the consumer in the theaters, it pretty much generated industry steam when James Cameron announced he was doing Avatar 3D.  Mr. Cameron pretty much heralded in this new era by creating a system that filmed in 3D, and like so many other things that he lights up, this is process he started is no different.

Suddenly the world was on-board with it and we, the movie-goer, found ourselves pummeled with 3D offerings at the theater.  We’re now seeing home movie 3D TV’s and 3D movies on Blu-ray 3D.  Obviously the industry also took note when Avatar started to bust every monetary box office result there ever was, due in part I believe, to the higher priced 3D movie tickets.  Worldwide, Avatar is the No. 1 money maker, having made $2.8 billion so far.

The 3D Curse

And though 3D seemed to help Avatar, it has also cursed some movies as well.  I’ve seen movies converted after the fact and the visually, many have dissed the cheesy appearance or not seeing any real benefit.  The other downside for some movies like The Cabin in the Woods was when their release date was delayed so the film could be converted, and then MGM had financial troubles.  Doh!

How I Chose My First 3D Movie

I’ve been picky about what movie I was going to see in the third dimension because of ticket prices.  In the showing of Tron: Legacy , the prices were as follows:

  • 2D:  $6.25
  • “Real 3D”: $9.75
  • XD 3D: $15

(“XD 3D.”  XD 3D is Cinemark’s version of IMAX sized 3D)  As you can see, 3D costs 1.5 times more and XD, 2.4 times more than a regular showing.  That ain’t cheap folks!

Another element that helped me decide what movie I’d see was if it was filmed natively in 3D or not.  I knew that if I were to take this test plunge, I wanted to make sure I did it right.  I skipped Avatar but almost went to see Resident Evil: Afterlife, since it was filmed in 3D…  but the ads deterred me.  They all had this “in-your-face” kind of gimmick shots.  When Disney started talking about Tron: Legacy, I had always felt like it was the prime candidate for me to take this 3D lunge.

The last factor involved for me in deciding on this spectacular plunge of visual entertainment was the content of the movie itself.  For me, it needed to be something that might take advantage of the process.  I sure as heck wasn’t going to spend the extra money on a movie where people are sitting around in a room talking.  And I’m not sure I’d even consider such a wonderful, one-man show as 127 Hours.  I needed fantastic.  I wanted natively filmed and I wanted to be dazzled by the world I’d sit in for two hours.  No post-processing for this kid.

That’s why Tron: Legacy was the perfect movie to take my 3D plunge in.  It looked like it had spectacular settings with huge scenes that delivered expansive moments to absorb.

The 3D Movie Experience

First Entering The Theater

Tron Legacy movie logo

I arrived at my theater, paid the price, snagged my popcorn and as I approached the theater, that’s where I was handed my sealed bag with my 3D specs in them.  Well, at this point, I was committed!

I settled in and started munching my butter-drenched popcorn, tentatively testing my glasses on the TV commercials I was “treated” to.  I wasn’t sure when my three-dimensional experience would start.  Was it as soon as you’re in the theater or was there a moment where it would be announced?  It was the latter.  After the ads a message was placed on the screen saying it was time to put on the Real 3D glasses.

The 3D glasses weren’t gimmicks either, like they used to be in that sad era of paper glasses with red and blue lenses that delivered huge headaches.  They aren’t distractingly heavy and I tested them with and without my reading glasses.  It didn’t matter, the fit and wearing was fine.

The banner or announcement that told us to put on the glasses and the message itself became three-d to prove to me that is indeed what it said.  There were a few other commercials.  Google Chrome tried to convince me it was the fastest web browser there is, but the ad had me wondering exactly what part of that was truly 3D.  A Coke ad followed and showed me that the visual effect could be better, but still, I started to develop concerns.

Movie Trailers in 3D

The fun started with the movie trailers that were attached to my showing of Tron: Legacy, and they were the perfect accompaniment to my movie.

The first movie trailer up was Marvel Studios Thor starring Chris Hemsworth.  Earthly scenes, conversational scenes seemed OK.  Asgard was a bit more spectacular and The Destroyer left his impression on me.

Next up was the Green Lantern movie trailer, starring Ryan Reynolds.  (Boy, he sure has come a long way from Blade Trinity!)  To be honest, the trailer was mostly great, but I found myself slightly distracted because I was wondering to myself… is this scene in three-d?  This one?  Nothing stood out at me.

Then the Jon Favreau directed Cowboys & Aliens movie trailer showed up.  There was something different about this trailer.  I stopped looking for the visual effect because it seemed apparent without being obvious.  I started to feel like I didn’t just drop too much money on this movie ticket!

The last movie trailer was for the animated feature film called Rio, with Jesse Eisenberg.  It was obvious that the trailer was created for 3D but in this case, it didn’t feel like a gimmick, but more like an added bit of visual depth to the trailer that made it a fun thing.  It was already a funny trailer and the gimmick moments accented it.  They weren’t desperate gimmicks, they were just part of the trailer.

The XD 3D Movie, Tron: Legacy

After the movie trailers ended, words started to type across the screen explaining that some scenes were shot in 2d but that I did not need to take off my glasses for them.  I had not thought about that and that was a good piece of advice, though I never noticed when it was or wasn’t.  The scenes just were, and they were wonderful.

The movie started and while we’re in the real world of the movie, the aspects of 3D demonstrated itself in how the main focus, the main character, always seemed to be in front of the scene in which they were in.  It wasn’t a huge, glaring obvious difference, but it was like a subtle spotlight on the main character or scene.  It wasn’t distracting but rather a cool novelty adding to the moment.

Tron Legacy - Garrett Hedlund and Beau Garrett

The real impact came when Sam popped onto (or is that into?) the grid.  It’s here that the application of the 3D process really stood out and helped create the world that the movie took place in.  Main characters stood out while the background was there for you to enjoy.  Nothing was left untouched and everything was in gorgeous 3D.  (Ah hem, guys, I mean everything!)  Whether it was a scene with a few folks, many folks or a scene with an epic looking vista, it was all translated wonderfully with nary a distraction.

I’m giving this first-time three dimensional experience two thumbs up folks!

The Practical Cost Of Seeing Movies in 3D

Tron Legacy light bike

I had a wonderful time in Disney’s Tron: Legacy and I am so glad I dissed the movie critiques that called it pointless, confusing and dull.  They were reviewing the movie from a different perspective than a fan of the genre.  The visuals were something to behold and despite some of the confusing reports, the story was just fine.  (My movie review of Tron: Legacy)  When the movie was over I had no issue with having spent $15.

With that said, I know that with the cost of a 3D movie, I am not going to see every movie in this format.  And from the trailers I saw today, I may very well consider seeing Cowboys & Aliens since it seemed so organic visually.  (Hmm, coincidence that Olivia Wilde is in this one also?)

I know it’s not a practical thing to consider spending 55% more money on movies as a habit.  Never mind the idea of tacking on 140% more for the huge screen experience, but if there is ever a movie that calls out and says, “Hey, I’m the perfect movie to experience your first 3D adventure in!“, then I’d have to say that Tron: Legacy is it.  Plus Disney has caught on to what movie reviewers are saying about the experience and are now advertising it as the movie to see as such.

But the question for me remains, is it really warranted to have almost everything coming out in 3D?  I don’t believe some films will translate, or IE: be distracting.  Others will look poor from some of the post-processing efforts and in my mind, very few will take full advantage of this new way of watching films.

Movies like Tron or animated features seem to be the obvious choices that would benefit immensely from excellent 3D presentations.  Plus I think it might be rewarding joy to watch the kids experience this new technical movie presentation.  And I apologize if I sound like an advertising campaign for the movie, but it surprised me in just how nearly perfect my 3D movie experience was with this movie, sirens aside!

What do you think?  Have you been to a post-processed 3D movie or one that was filmed in 3D?  Did you like it?  Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for coming by.  I hope this take on my experience helped you make a decision on how to approach going to your first 3D movie.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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