To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Conan The Barbarian Ticket
Should you choose to see director Marcus Nispelís Conan the Barbarian remake this weekend, the biggest decision youíll face at the ticket counter isnít when to see it, but how to see it. Like nearly every major movie release, Conanís being presented in both 2D and 3D formats. Weíre here to help you decide between them.
Our ongoing ďTo 3D Or Not To 3DĒ series does not analyze the relative merits of a movie like Conan as a piece of art or entertainment. If youíre looking for that kind of review of the film, read mine right here. Instead what youíll find here is an unbiased, 7-point analysis of Conan the Barbarianís 3D on a purely technical level. To make that easier to understand and sum up, Iíll assign a score to each rating criteria, total it up, and youíll have a simple guide to help determine the best way to see the Barbarian in theaters. Read on to find out what is best in lifeÖ
Does It Fit?
3D is a waste of time on a quiet drama and ideally suited for big, splashy, summer blockbusters. Conan the Barbarian is an action movie, which makes the use of 3D potentially worthwhile, but itís also a gritty, down and dirty action movie. Itís the kind of movie destined to be full of fast-paced, shaky, close quarters, dust in your face, sweat and bodies colliding, battle sequences. While 3D can be a lot of fun on action movies, itís not so much fun on that specific kind of action. 3D needs slow motion, wide angles, clearly defined visuals. Thatís not really the world of Conan.
Fit Score: 3/5
Planning & Effort
Conan the Barbarian was not shot in 3D, rather it was shot in 2D and then post-converted into 3D. Thatís not always a disaster, if the movie was shot in 2D with an eventual post-conversion in mind. Thatís not what happened here. No matter what anyone involved with the production might tell you, one look at the screen while watching this film will tell you that it was really intended to be a 2D movie. Sure they decided to post-convert it more than a year before the filmís release, and so had plenty of time to do a good job, but the movie wasnít really mean to be a 3D movie and so wasnít written, shot, or produced in a way that really does much to maximize its use of the format.
P&E Score: 2/5
Beyond the Window
Done right 3D can be used to give images on the screen depth, to make it seem as though the screen in front of you is a window in with a whole world behind it. Because they did have so long to work on the post-conversion for this film, Conan really does try to make the most of this. But most of the movieís battle scenes take place in extremely close quarters, where 3D depth doesnít really matter. It tries, it really does, but bottom line here is that the film really just doesnít need any of that 3D depth at all. It pulls it off, mostly, but that depth doesnít make much difference in what youíre watching and if it wasnít there odds are you wouldnít even notice. Conan does what it can, but thereís just not much to work with here.
Beyond the Window Score: 3/5
Before the Window
3D is more than just a method to provide depth, it can also extend images out beyond the screen to make it seem as though theyíre right in front of you. Done wrong itís a gimmick, done right itís a great storytelling advice, but Conan doesnít do it at all. I suppose they could have at least tried, there are plenty of those arrows shooting past the camera, sword being thrust in the audienceís general direction shotsÖ but again the movie really plays out as though was never intended to be in 3D and so thereís just not a lot of opportunity to use the technology to the fullest, much less do it in a way that isnít gimmicky. So rather than get it all wrong, Conan doesnít try. I guess not trying is better than screwing it up. Iíll give them an extra point for having the sense to know when to stop.
Before the Window Score: 2/5
When you put on 3D glasses youíre basically putting a filter between yourself and the screen. Itís like watching a movie with sunglasses on and that can make the image in front of you dim and listless. Theaters may be able to compensate by using different lenses and other techniques to increase the brightness of their projection, but really itís up to the film to compensate for this by using 3D on something thatís naturally bright and vibrant. Conan isnít. Most of the movie takes place in fog, smoke or dust. The sky is almost always overcast, a lot of it takes place in caves, at twilight, underwater, or in the dark of night. To the filmís credit, it makes those dim images as sharply defined as possible and that helps, but the movieís just not really cut out for 3D and unless youíre seeing this film in a theater with particularly bright projection methods, youíll be faced with images dulled and dimmed by the haze of 3D.
Brightness Score: 1/5
The Glasses Off Test
The simplest way to explain this is to say that if you view a 3D movie without your glasses on, the blurrier the image the more theyíre using 3D. I took my 3D glasses off periodically during Conan the Barbarian to test this and found that not only was the image blurry, it was blurry in different places. This suggests that theyíre using 3D in different ways to create different levels of depth. They didnít just flip a 3D switch on or off, they vary it in an attempt to get the most out of the filmís post-conversion.
Glasses Off Test: 4/5
3D makes some people sick for a variety of different reasons, but thereís a pretty good chance that Conan the Barbarian in 3D will have adverse affects on even the most hardy moviegoers. The biggest problem here is the dimness of the images being projected on screen, thatís sure to result in headaches and fatigue caused by the strain of watching the entire movie through a sort of light-destroying haze. The film also contains a lot of close up, shaky, fast-paced battles which donít really lend themselves to 3D and could very easily make more sensitive moviegoers nauseous. Youíve been warned.
Health Score: 1/5
Final Verdict: It should be said that I believe Conan the Barbarianís 3D team did everything they could to deliver the best 3D experience possible with this film, but their task was impossible. Conan the Barbarian was never meant to be in 3D, should not be in 3D, and thereís simply no way to properly post-convert this movie into the format. Thereís no reason at all to pay extra money to see this movie in 3D in fact itíll probably be a much better film should you find a way to see it in 2D.
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