Movie ticket prices are expensive enough without the added cost of 3D glasses. Priced at over $10 in most major cities, a family outing to a 3D movie with $4 glasses can run you over $50. In the name of fiscal responsibility, you want to know if your film-going experience is worth burning a hole in your pocket. Iím here to help.
This week sees the release of Alpha and Omega, a new 3D animated film about two wolves who are captured by humans and forced to take a long trip to get back home. As evidenced by my review of the film, I canít recommend watching the film in any capacity, but sometimes you have to do what your kids want to do. Below you will find a point-by-point breakdown of whether or not Alpha and Omega is worth a larger chunk of your paycheck at the box office.
Is 3D A Fit?
Itís a well established fact that 3D works better in animated films and live-action with heavy CGI. Alpha and Omega falls into the former category, so it already has a leg up on competing 3D films. So now the question is whether the story lends itself to the technology and the answer is yes. In addition to having a few action scenes that capitalize on the third dimension, there are many sprawling shots of nature that look glorious thanks to the intense depth. Could there have been improvements in some areas? Absolutely, but Iíll get into that in a bit.
3D Fit Score: 4/5
Advance Planning And Effort
Alpha and Omega is the first 3D film from Indian studio Crest Animation and, because of this, thereís very little information that can be found online about the production. Based on what I saw, however, it appears that this film was made with 3D in mind. Unlike the shoddy excuses for 3D that we see with post-conversion, the film is well crafted and the shots and angles are set up to maximize the technologyís effectiveness. That said, I decided to knock off a point because they are hiding the information. Take that!
Planning And Effort Score: 4/5
Depth is where the money is for 3D. Itís the entire purpose of the medium and also why post-conversion films look so awful. When done wrong it looks like characters are cardboard cutouts standing in front of a greenscreen, and when done right it gives the illusion of looking into a snow globe. Alpha and Omega has the snow globe effect going full force. Certainly aided by the beautiful scenery that comes with setting a film, the audience feels as though they can stare for miles into the back of some scenes. Itís truly one of the few things the film actually got right.
Picture Depth Score: 5/5
When you think about the 3D experience, you are essentially wearing sunglasses in a darkened room. Naturally this has some effect on the look of the film which, if not adjusted, can look murky and dim through the dark lenses. This is not a problem for Alpha and Omega. With a lot of bright, white snow reflecting light, the audience never feels as though their vision is impaired because of the glasses. Even the scenes that are shot at night have a proper contrast so you donít find yourself squinting to see individual objects. Individual theaters have some control over this element as they can adjust settings on their projectors for ideal 3D viewing, so itís not entirely in the hands of the animators, but it appears that they did their part.
Brightness Score: 5/5
If Alpha and Omega has one blind spot in its 3D, itís the use of flair. The film makes great use of depth, but fails completely when it comes to throwing stuff out at the audience. There are less than five instances where the audience experiences something flying out at them and one of those things happens to be a long drop of drool. Obviously the use of 3D as a gimmick is better suited for horror and action films, but I must say that I felt cheated by the fact that there was so little snow blasting at my face as the wolves used a hollowed out tree trunk to toboggan down a hill.
Flair Score: 2/5
There are some of us out there who canít even watch 3D films without getting a headache or feel slightly queasy. It varies from person to person, and effects individuals differently. Iíve personally never had a problem in this area Ė that is, until I saw Alpha and Omenga. About a third of the way into the film I began to feel a piercing headache. I happen to also be a regular glasses wearer, but even taking off my normal lenses didnít make the pain go away. It might be entirely circumstantial, but I didnít walk out of the theater feeling at the top of my game.
Health Score: 1/5
The Glasses Off Test
Itís actually fairly simple to personally gauge how much effort the filmmakers have put into the 3D effect. If you remove your glasses in the middle of a scene and the screen appears all fuzzy, thatís a great sign. And the fuzzier it is the better. Periodically while watching Alpha and Omega I performed this test and was wowed by the results. During both standard dialogue and action scenes, it was almost incomprehensible to understand what was going on without the aid of the glasses. Scenic shots of Jasper National Park were scene through the eyes of your grandfather with glaucoma. The people behind the filmís 3D knew exactly what they were doing.
Glasses Off Test: 5/5
Planning and Effort
The Glasses Test
26 (out of a possible 35)
Final Verdict:Alpha and Omega is by no means a good film and, as a critic, I canít advise buying any type of ticket for it, but if you must, 3D is the way to go on this one. Being an animated film, it already has a leg up on pretty much any live-action film using the same technology, and it makes good use of it. If your kids are clawing at your leg and begging you to take them to see the talking wolves movie, check it out with the added dimension. At least then it will be a semi-waste of time instead of a complete waste of time.
For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.