The first time we met Iron Man, back in 2008, he wasn't in 3D, and he didn't even glom on to the gimmick in his second movie. So why does he have to be in 3D now? A whole lot has changed in blockbuster movies in the last five years, including the fact that it's pretty much inevitable you'll have to don glasses to catch up with the summer's biggest movies (mine were novelty glasses in Iron Man's signature red and gold, at least). But is it worth the extra cost to see the extra dimension?
That's what we're answering with the latest installment of To 3D Or Not To 3D, in which we break down the 3D effects of Iron Man 3 into its key components and figure out if it deserves your extra cash. If you want a review of the film itself, click here-- we liked it a lot! But if you want to focus on the cold reality of 3D alone, keep reading.
Does 3D Fit? Just because no other Iron Man movie has been in 3D doesn't mean we weren't expecting it-- every Marvel movie since Captain America: The First Avenger has come with the extra dimension, and the massive success of The Avengers pretty much guaranteed it would continue. Sure, there's no giant CGI green Hulk in Iron Man 3 or aliens to fight, but there's a fair amount of CGI anyway, and that's the element that usually makes for the best 3D effects. With so much of Iron Man 3 focusing on Tony outside the suit, though, the CGI benefit doesn't get them nearly as far as it does for other superhero tales.
Fit Score: 3/5
Planning & Effort We have no idea why Iron Man 3 wasn't set for 3D the moment The Avengers opened to astronomical numbers, but it took all the way until October of last year for Marvel to announce that the film would be converted into 3D, while director Shane Black had already been on set for months. We have no way of knowing when Black himself found out that the post-conversion was happening, but the film itself doesn't suggest it. Marvel may have had the 3D conversion planned for months, but they don't seem to have told anyone who actually made the film.
Planning & Effort Score: 1/5
Before the Window When you don't have a lot of CGI creatures to work with and you don't know that your movie will be in 3D when you're actually making it, you pretty much only have one option to take advatange of "before the window": lots and lots of particulate matter. Whether by design or not, Iron Man 3 provides lots of moments for bits of ash or snowflakes or fireballs to pop out of the screen at the audience-- y'know, "before" the window of the screen-- and it provides a nice deepening effect for all the action happening behind it. Even the film's first shot, of the suits in Tony's house exploding one by one, feel like they're rushing toward you. Post-conversion is notoriously difficult for capturing "before the window" moments, but Iron Man 3 pulls the effect off nicely.
Before the Window Score: 5/5
Beyond the Window When we look for "beyond the window" we want moments that push the depth of the action, to make us really believe we're looking through the movie screen into a new world. Iron Man 3, which takes place largely in the real world and mostly either indoors or at night, has almost no moments to take advantage of this. Iron Man 3 isn't really a movie about marveling at some giant scene anyway-- the most impressive stuff is generally Tony Stark's inventions-- but it might have been nice to see the screen open up this way once in a while.
Beyond the Window Score: 1/5
Brightness The big climax of the movie-- oh, hush, you've seen it in all the ads already-- takes place at night on an oil rig, and to be honest, I'm not sure if it's the chaos of the scene or the dimness of 3D in general that makes the whole thing hard to follow. The 3D sure doesn't help, although with the rest of the film seeming perfectly bright and clear, I don't want to ding it too much either. Either way, you'll probably wish you weren't wearing the damn glasses at that moment.
Brightness Score: 4/5
The Glasses Off Test If you suspect that your 3D movie really isn't giving you all that you paid for, try removing your glasses at a key moment that seems like it ought to go deep on 3D. The more blur you see, the more 3D effect you're likely to see when you put them back on. Given how little depth the 3D is adding overall, you're probably not surprised to learn that there's not a whole lot of blur to be found in most of Iron Man 3's scenes. But unless you're totally ill, keep them on for the action scenes-- the blur around all that particulate matter is proof of the one part of the 3D that works really well.
Glasses Off Score: 3/5
Audience Health It's not easy to shoot an action-heavy movie and then transfer it into 3D without some casualties, and while the action in Iron Man 3 isn't outrageously frenetic or fast, it's probably a little quicker than you'd want for a 3D film. I'm not especially inclined to get sick in 3D movies, but if you are, you might want to take extra caution here.
Audience Health Score: 3/5