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Say what you will about Paul W.S. Anderson and his gifts as a filmmaker, but he's been one of the fiercest champions of shooting 3D movies in actual 3D, starting with last year's Resident Evil: Afterlife and now with The Three Musketeers, the movie that prompted him to proclaim at Comic Con last year that he would never make another movie without 3D.
But is all that effort worth it? Anderson had a lot of period costumes, swords and elaborate locations to work with in Three Musketeers, but it's not what you have, but what you make of it that counts when you're trying to take advantage of 3D technology. To find out, read the latest installment of To 3D or Not to 3D, as we break the movie down with the goal of figuring out whether it's worth your hard-earned money to add that extra dimension.
Does It Fit?
The answer to this really depends on whether or not you think live-action ever deserves to be in 3D. Three Musketeers isn't nearly as heavy on computer effects as Anderson's Resident: Evil movies, and features very few fully CGI shots that can really pop out in 3D. But when you've got locations and costumes this elaborate, plus the opportunity to stick some swords out at the audience, you can see why the temptation is there. Put it this way: it fits better than Fright Night.
Fit Score: 3/5
Planning & Effort
As mentioned above, Anderson is a total cheerleader for shooting in actual 3D, and he automatically earns two points for simply using the 3D cameras. And there are several moments throughout Three Musketeers, whether the patented Anderson move of watching Jovovich fling herself through a hail of bullets or a simple sword poked in the right direction, where you can tell he was happy to let the 3D cameras roll. How effective they are is another story, but it's clear that Anderson had 3D in mind throughout the shooting of this movie.
P&E Score: 3/5
Beyond the Window
You know all those poking-out swords I was talking about? The Beyond the Window effect is the opposite, the effect you get when a 3D movie opens up on to a giant landscape, and you can really feel the various planes that make this feel like a real world. Unfortunately, despite a lot of really lovely locations and opportunities to show real depth, the 3D in Three Musketeers never show it off. There are even shots in long palace hallways that don't seem to get any added depth from the 3D, and the action sequences seem to look almost exactly like they would in 2D. Usually this is where a live-action 3D film ought to score the highest, but in this one, it makes almost no difference.
Beyond the Window Score: 1/5
Before the Window
So this is where you look for the swords poking out at the screen, or dust and ash floating in front of the characters, or anything that makes it feel like the world of the film is coming out in front of you. Unfortunately Three Musketeers totally fails here too-- even the handful of sword gags don't seem to be popping out that far. Maybe the 3D cameras they were working with just didn't express depth that well? Whatever happened, this category is a total miss as well.
Before the Window Score: 1/5
The more 3D movies we see, the more they seem to be solving this problem, which basically requires bumping up the overall brightness of the film so you can see even when you're wearing dim 3D glasses. Three Musketeers, with a lot of scenes in broad daylight or brightly lit palaces, has pretty much no brightness issues, even in action-heavy scenes that can sometimes get muddled (Anderson's penchant for slo-mo action shots probably helps that a little). It kind of fits in with the rest of the 3D in the movie-- you barely notice it.
Brightness Score: 5/5
The Glasses Off Test
The real test for whether or not a movie is taking advantage of 3D is to take off your glasses in the middle of the scene and figure out if you can understand what's going on without them. If the picture is blurry beyond recognition, that means the images are really popping off the screen when you put the glasses back on; if you barely notice a difference, that means the 3D isn't have much impact. There are entire stretches of Three Musketeers that could be watched with no glasses and absolutely no problem. Even in the scenes that ought to have real depth, everything looks almost ordinary even without the glasses. It's proof positive that the 3D is a wasted opportunity.
Glasses Off Test: 1/5
Sometimes when 3D is done badly, the action scenes can make you feel ill, with the switching planes and the general sense that you're actually trapped inside the movie with them. Shooting with actual 3D cameras pretty much eliminates this problem, and though Anderson's action scenes are stagy and sometimes overly slow, they at least keep the audience from getting vertigo while they watch them. You'll have no more problem with nausea than you would in a 2D movie, because Three Musketeers is barely in 3D to begin with.
Health Score: 5/5
Final Verdict: 21 isn't the most abominable score you can get in the To 3D or Not to 3D rankings, and that's mostly to the credit of the 3D cameras, which keep everything looking bright and shiny and non-illness-inducing. But it also keeps everything looking pretty much like it would in the 2D version, which means there's absolutely no reason to see this movie in 3D, even if that's what the director intended all along. There's not really much of a reason to see this very, very silly movie anyway, but if you simply can't wait to catch it on cable on a slow Saturday, at least see it in 2D and save yourself some cash.
For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.
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