Brad Pitt's epic-scaled zombie drama World War Z has been working hard to overcome bad buzz and prove itself with critics. With the reviews actually positive and Pitt still a giant movie star, a lot of moviegoers may find themselves witnessing the zombie apocalypse this weekend… and in most theaters, they'll have the option of wearing 3D glasses while they do it.
But is that extra cost for the 3D worth it? That's what we're here to answer in the latest installment of To 3D or not to 3D, in which we break down World War Z's 3D effects into individual parts and help you decide which ticket to buy. Before you head to the movies this weekend, check out our guide, and vote in the poll to let us know how you to decide to see it.
Does 3D Fit? No longer limited to movies that were looking for a big and obvious gimmick, 3D gets applied to nearly every genre of film these days, but it seems to work best in a few specific ones: big epic-scaled action movies, animated films, or anything that wants a little schlocky scare. World War Z fits two of those categories (though there is plenty of animation in there too), and between its big scenes of zombies overrunning cities and the later, close-up moments with the terrifying zombie faces, there's a lot of potential for 3D to add an extra pop to the movie's slow-boiling tension and terror.
Fit Score: 5/5
Planning & Effort Sadly, your movie can have all the potential in the world to be great in 3D and fall apart completely if you don't put the work in. World War Z had one of the most famously troubled productions in recent memory, and when you're on a set where the director and lead actor are rumored to not even be speaking to each other, it's hard to plan much of anything, much less a 3D conversion that's going to happen months later. It's unclear exactly when Paramount opted to convert the film into 3D, but it wasn't public knowledge until a Super Bowl spot touted the 3D. When the film was shown in sections for various bigwigs last month, director Marc Forster was still working on the conversion. I don't know if it's possible to have less 3D planning on a movie this big.
Planning & Effort Score: 1/5
Before the Window This category, which refers to the space in front of the "window" of the screen where especially prominent 3D objects can pop out at the audience, is the place where a normal zombie movie might have a lot of fun, flinging weapons or body parts out at the audience to get them to scream. But World War Z, with its PG-13 rating and global scale, is not an average zombie movie, and its somber tone means they're not about to do something as gimmicky as actually having fun with the 3D. This is a hard effect to accomplish with post-conversion anyway, so it's not much of a surprise to see so little of it here.
Before the Window Score: 1/5
Beyond the Window To be honest, it's possible that there's a lot more beyond the window effect happening than I'm giving it credit for, and that some of the larger scenes in the film do a lot with making the frame seem deeper. But Forster's camera work in the film's biggest scene is so shaky and frenetic that I was constantly struggling to even focus on what was happening, much less understand the 3D depth. There's a handful of still shots-- like one of Brad Pitt and his family reflected in a puddle-- that make striking use of depth. But in the scenes where it would add the most, the effect is almost impossible to see.
Beyond the Window Score: 2/5
Brightness Horror movies and 3D tend to go well together except for one element: the many, many scenes that take place in the dark. Putting on a pair of 3D glasses is effectively like wearing sunglasses indoors, and filmmakers have to compensate a lot for that extra dimming effect. World War Z does a pretty good job compensating, but there are several scenes-- including one tense escape scene in a dimly lit apartment building-- where you really wish you could boost the levels a bit. It's not so much that they don't do enough to compensate, but that you can't help but realize some of these scenes were planned before they knew their audiences would be wearing glasses to watch them.
Brightness Score: 3/5
The Glasses Off Test There were several scenes in World War Z in which I felt forced to remove my glasses, so disoriented by the action that I assumed removing the glasses would help me focus. Normally I take off my glasses as a test to see just how much 3D effect we're actually getting-- the more blurry the image is when you remove them, the more 3D "pop" you'll see when you put them back on. In World War Z's action scenes the blur was minimal, but it was enough to make me more than a little seasick (see below for more on that) when I wore the glasses. Truly the worst of both worlds-- not a lot of 3D impact, but just enough to make the film harder to watch.
Glasses Off Score: 1/5
Audience Health It has been a long, long time since I felt ill in a 3D movie, but I genuinely worried about my health in many of World War Z's action scenes. There's a reason that most 3D films avoid the shaky cam style-- when you've got that extra layer of action to pay attention to, the shaky cam can make everything almost impossible to follow. As mentioned above, I removed my glasses a few times not to test the 3D, but just to hang on for dear life as the camera flew all over the place. It's not only proof that nobody was planning for 3D when they shot these scenes-- it's the strongest evidence of the way that the 3D in World War Z can actively ruin your experience of the movie.
Audience Health Score: 1/5