The biggest question any potential moviegoer faces right now isn't so much which movie to see, but how to see it. Clash of the Titans opens this weekend and it's the third movie of 2010 to be released in 3D. It's only the beginning. From here on out nearly every big-budget blockbuster will be available at your local megaplex in both 2D and 3D options. Going 3D might seem like a no brainer, but 3D tickets are expensive and only getting more expensive.
Already tickets for 3D movies cost $3 - $5 more than tickets for 2D movies and prices are projected to go as high as $20 for 3D before the year's over. Before you spend that much extra cash for a pair of glasses, you'll want to be sure it's worth it. We're here to help.
We've developed an unbiased, seven-point system for determining whether 3D is worthy of your wallet, and applied it to Clash of the Titans. If you want an opinion on the movie, read my review. That's not what this is about. My intent here is to ignore the quality of the film as a whole and instead give an unbiased analysis of the movie's 3D on a technical level. Using that, we'll give you the tools you need to buy the right movie ticket at the right price. Ready? Here we go.
The 3D Fit
Not every movie needs to be in 3D and so before examining whether or not the 3D in any movie is properly executed the first question you have to ask is whether putting it in 3D was worth the trouble. I think we can all agree that there's really no point in watching Schindler's List in three-dimensions, but Clash of the Titans is meant to be wild, popcorn entertainment which, let's face it, you're only really seeing for the monsters. That seems like the ideal venue for 3D, if it's done properly. Did Clash of the Titans absolutely need to be in 3D? Maybe not, but if you're looking for something to use the technology on, you could do a lot worse. Fit Score: 4/5
Plan Ahead: 3D Works Best With Effort
There are three ways to make a 3D movie. The most effective method, used by Avatar, involves special cameras used to shoot the movie in 3D right from the start. The second most effective method, used by Alice in Wonderland, involves shooting the movie using traditional methods but with the intention of converting it into 3D in mind while shooting it. Clash of the Titans uses the third method in which the movie was made with no thought given to presenting it in 3D, and then when some studio executive saw that 3D movies make a lot of money, they frantically converted their completed movie into the format in order to charge a few extra dollars for a ticket. Effort Score: 0/5
Mastering 3D Depth
Avatar taught us that you don't have to throw stuff at the camera in order for 3D to be effective. Instead, 3D can be used to provide depth to a movie, giving you the impression that you're watching something happening right outside a window. In Clash of the Titans, that never happens. Instead the 3D makes everything look sort of like cardboard. It's not so much like you're looking at a window watching something really happening, it's more like someone took a flat piece of paper and waved it around in front of your eyes. Picture Depth Score: 0/5
Only Brightness Defeats The 3D Haze
3D glasses are basically a filter, a filter which reduces the brightness of the picture in front of you as a side effect of fooling you into seeing in three-dimensions. In some ways it's up to the movie theater you're seeing it in to compensate for this, by turning up the brightness on their projector. But some of it's up to the movie's filmmaker too. Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, for instance, used sharp, brightly designed visuals which pop on the screen. Clash of the Titans doesn't bother. Instead it leaves the audience watching through a 3D haze, it's too often dimly lit and in places the characters on screen are almost impossible to make out. Brightness Score: 1/5
Picture depth is great but throwing stuff at the camera can be a lot of fun. Alice in Wonderland pulled this off capably and focused solely on having fun with the format. Sure it's a little gimmicky, but at least when you're waving your sword out over the audiences head you're trying. Clash of the Titans doesn't try. There's never that “stuff flying out at the audience” moment in the movie. The Kraken's tentacle never leaps out and attacks the person next to you. Clash of the Titans stays rooted inside the borders of the screen in front of you. Instead almost everything in the movie was outshined by the theater's “put glasses on” logo which loomed out of the screen in 3D before the show. Release the Kraken? No thanks, just bring back those crazy floating glasses! Gimmicky Fun Score: 0/5
How Do You Feel?
This is a little hard to gauge since it's really only anecdotal and different people will be affected differently. As a result, this should probably weighted lower than some of the other factors being considered here. But the truth is, the worse 3D is the more likely it is to make people sick. I spoke with several people after my screening who reported nausea and headaches. Cinema Blend's own Katey Rich reported feeling a little queasy after her screening in a different theater. As for me, though I never get sick watching 3D, I left Clash 3D feeling tired and worn out, likely caused by the strain of attempting to fight through the movie's 3D haze. Health Score: 1/5
The Glasses Off Test
If you took your glasses off during Avatar, you'd have noticed that during the most 3D intensive parts of the film the picture became even fuzzier. The simple way to explain this is that the blurrier the image on screen appears when your glasses are off, the deeper and more vibrant the 3D is likely to be with your glasses on. So to test this, I removed my glasses during Clash of the Titans in an effort to examine the way the movie's 3D effect was being created. The result? Almost no difference. Clash of the Titans looks nearly the same whether or not you wear your glasses. The 3D effect is minimal and in fact the picture actually becomes more vibrant and enjoyable without glasses since the 3D haze caused by those lenses is eliminated. Glasses Test Score: 0/5
The Glasses Test
6 (out of a possible 35)
Now just to provide a little context, here's how Alice in Wonderland 3D would have stacked up on our scale: