The original three Spider-Man movies directed by Sam Raimi were huge global hits, and not a one of them was released in 3D. But we live in a different time now, of course, and it would be crazy for Sony not to release The Amazing Spider-Man in glorious digital 3D. After all, think of the vertigo you felt watching Spidey swing through the streets of Manhattan in the first film-- now imagine that effect in 3D. You can see how the temptation was irresistible.
But has the team behind the hasty Spider-Man reboot actually taken advantage of all this new technology? Are you really going to get something out this Spider-Man adventure you didn't get in plain old 2D ten years ago? We're here to help you answer that question, with the latest installment of To 3D Or Not To 3D. Read below as we analyze the 3D in The Amazing Spider-Man point by point, for the most comprehensive guide of which ticket to buy. Take a look before you see the movie in theaters on July 3!
Does It Fit?
OK, sure, the three Spider-Man movies that came out in the last decade were just fine without 3D. But you can definitely see the appeal of bringing Spidey to the third dimension, maybe more so than any other superhero. It's been a thrill in all of the movies to be right alongside Peter Parker as he swings through the skyscraper canyons, and with CGI technology that lends itself well to 3D, you can just imagine how much more exciting it would be with the added dimension. Sure, a ton of the movie is live-action and set in schools or houses or otherwise unexciting locations, but other than that The Amazing Spider-Man is just right for the format.
Fit Score: 4/5
Planning & Effort
Not only did director Marc Webb plan to shoot the movie in 3D from the moment he was hired, but he and the Sony team met up and discussed it with the grand poobah of 3D himself, James Cameron. When you get the Cameron seal of approval-- especially way back in 2010, the heyday of awful 3D cash grabs-- you know you're doing something right.
P&E Score: 5/5
Before the Window
This is the part of 3D that native, shot-in-3D films usually tackle the best; if you think of the screen as being a window, the "before the window" part is the stuff that comes flying out at you, maybe making you jump in your chair. And while The Amazing Spider-Man is packed with opportunities for this kind of 3D thrill-- the main character is shooting webs out of his wrists, after all-- the movie almost never takes advantage of it. Save for a few moments when webs get shot your direction or Spider-Man starts swinging toward the screen, there are almost no before the window moments in the movie-- not just a disappointment for fans of big, fun 3D, but a total missed opportunity for the character as well.
Before the Window Score: 1/5
Beyond the Window
You might have already guessed this, but if "before the window" means the stuff that appears to be in front of the screen, "beyond the window" means the stuff that appears to be expanding beyond it, as if the 3D has turned the movie screen into a window looking into a vast world outside. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn't have a lot to offer on this account either, even in the big web-swinging scenes that ought to be spectacular. A lot of the movie takes place indoors, which limits the opportunity for big scale and depth, but even the showstopper action sequences feel oddly flat. I went into this movie specifically looking forward to the depth, and instead got a movie that I would have said was post-converted 3D if I didn't know better.
Beyond the Window Score:2/5
Spider-Man isn't a creature of the night, like Batman, and his red and blue suit makes him easy to spot anywhere, even when he's all muddied up after a fight. So The Amazing Spider-Man, unlike a lot of movies that don't compensate for the fact that 3D glasses are effectively sunglasses worn indoors, doesn't really have a problem with darkness, even in the handful of scenes shot at night . It goes back to the whole planning and effort thing-- no matter how good the 3D eventually turned out, Marc Webb and company were careful to know what they were doing so you could see it.
Brightness Score: 5/5
The Glasses Off Test
I was constantly frustrated by what felt like a lack of depth in The Amazing Spider-Man, and after writing many editions of this column I knew exactly how to test it. Take off your glasses in a scene you suspect isn't up to part in its 3D-- if you see a really blurry image, you know the 3D is working, while if the image looks perfectly fine, you may as well be watching the movie in 2D. And sure enough, Spider-Man failed the glasses-off test over and over again-- many scenes, especially the ones indoors, were totally 2D, and even the action scenes didn't have as much blur as they should have. The proof is in the blur when it comes to 3D, and Spider-Man fails here terribly.
Glasses Off Test: 1/5
The one benefit to 3D that isn't really doing anything? There's pretty much no chance of it making you sick. The only risk to your health in a 3D ticket to The Amazing Spider-Man is the pit in your stomach telling you you've just thrown your money away.
Health Score: 5/5
Final Verdict: It's not that the 3D in The Amazing Spider-Man is especially bad, it's just so much less than you would be right to expect, given how much they bragged about shooting in 3D and how much money went into this expensive 3D reboot. So many people have wondered why it was necessary to make another Spider-Man movie so soon after the original trilogy, and Sony has argued that the 3D adds all kinds of new depth to the character. Sorry to say, that's the opposite of true. You can easily save your cash and avoid this 3D ticket.
For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.