With every new Marvel movie that arrives in theaters, a potentially earth-shattering spectacle awaits. In the case of director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, that visual delight is paired with great sadness in a movie that tackles the fantastical along with the theme of grief.
Just as Wakanda is forever, so is the moment where the Marvel Cinematic Universe prompts us to ask that important moviegoing question: To 3D or Not To 3D? Should you be interested in reading our Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review, that assessment is waiting outside of these walls.
As of this moment, we’re about to discover whether this new MCU movie is worth your extra 3D ticket money, or if you’re better off investing in Riri Williams’ future workshop. Let’s slip on our glasses and see what the latest Black Panther movie looks like in the third dimension!
FIT SCORE - 3/5
Previously in the Marvel Studios’ theatrical experience, we saw Thor: Love and Thunder’s 3D showings underwhelm when it came to the total experience. So naturally, that’s going to serve as one of our benchmarks for what to expect out of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As usual, the assumption is that a high flying movie of heroics and action such as this would fit the 3D format like a Panther in their armor.
There are definitely moments that suit the 3D approach to Black Panther’s sequel, but director Ryan Coogler’s latest isn’t a typical wall-to-wall action spectacle. A lot of time is spent on character moments, and while those can look fantastic with the right 3D, several factors limit that from actually happening.
PLANNING & EFFORT - 3/5
With a sequel like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s not just important to keep the series benchmarks in mind when evaluating 3D. Since this is our second solo trip to Wakanda, there’s also the previous Black Panther’s 3D performance that weighs heavily as a touchstone for improvement, or lack thereof.
The Planning and Effort on Black Panther 2 is, sadly, middling. SDFX Studios, the company formerly known as Stereo-D, is back on the case as Marvel’s 3D conversion provider. The studio’s work can be hit or miss, which feels like a given considering how the MCU releases several films into theaters in any one year. This just happens to be one of the movies that falls into the "Miss" column.
BEFORE THE WINDOW - 2/5
Before the Window lies a world of images, objects, and people that pop off of the screen. Comparatively, Marvel Studios excelled in this field earlier in the year through the premium presentation of Doctor Strange’s sequel. As I mentioned before, it’s a mixed bag in the world of the Marvel Studios franchise and its 3D amazement, and this is only the start of where things could have been better.
There are scare thrills to be had when it comes to objects coming out of the screen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While this is a very talkative movie, there are some moments where weapons poke past the screen’s borders and into your personal space.
Just like Black Panther, the spears of the Dora Milaje are a highlight of this very factor. Rather than acting like a key ingredient of this 3D conversion, the Before the Window thrills are more like sprinkles added in here and there. Even then, it feels like there's too little in the mix.
BEYOND THE WINDOW - 3/5
The world can provide limitless backgrounds for a 3D conversion, no matter where you go. It almost feels like that sentiment can apply even moreso to grand spectacle movies like the MCU, or any large blockbuster you can think of. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever doesn’t seem to have gotten that memo, as the depth of picture is shockingly shallow.
In scenes like Queen Ramonda’s address to the UN towards the beginning of the movie, you can note the distinct separation of characters and their environments. That being said, the background is really where this feature fails, as it rarely feels like you’re looking into something truly deep. Namor’s underwater kingdom of Talokan is the grand exception, as the entire 3D conversion feels like it comes to life when going under the sea. It’s just the stuff that’s above the waves that tends to look rather dull.
BRIGHTNESS SCORE - 3/5
Ah, the Brightness score, also known as where most 3D movies go to disappoint. If there’s anywhere that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or any other third-dimensionally-enhanced movie tends to skate uphill, it’s here. The blame isn’t totally on the filmmakers, as the picture quality does mostly depend on whether the theater you’re visiting properly maintains the calibration of its projectors.
With Black Panther 2, the results are not as crisp and clear as they should be. Darker nighttime battle scenes are a murky grey that’s still watchable, but still quite annoying. And as much as Talokan is a sight to behold, those moments suffer from the lack of brightness in the picture as well. Which is a shame, because the bioluminiscence and neon-colored lighting Black Panther has traded in previously both take a hit as a result.
GLASSES OFF SCORE - 2/5
Usually when you take your glasses off during a 3D presentation, there’s quite a bit of blur to behold. That’s the typical signal of how much the picture has been manipulated to create the effects that should turn Black Panther: Wakanda Forever into a third dimensional beauty. It’s a shame there just doesn’t seem to be much of that magic at work this time out.
Even through scenes like Queen Ramonda’s grand speech, the blur is mostly relegated to the background throughout the entire movie. The blur that is present is of weak quality, making the usual 2D anchor points of any given scene look all the more flat. Gone is a healthy level of image manipulation that forms a cohesive whole, which would explain the lack of depth or projection in the 3D variant of Black Panther 2.
AUDIENCE HEALTH - 3/5
The best thing I can say about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s 3D conversion is that it’s still watchable. Though the fast-paced action can sometimes create an image too busy for good 3D, you’re not going to get motion sick or feels any sort of nausea. Then again, the medium of 3D filmmaking has gotten to a point where that seems to be a rare concern.
Dimness of picture is the true enemy here, but even with such a washed out image, you’re not going to feel the sort of eye strain that tires you out. That’s especially important, as Black Panther’s big sequel is almost three hours long. You might be annoyed by the shortcomings of the 3D product on display, but at least you won’t get sick over it.
FINAL VERDICT: 19/35
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a bummer when it comes to making the 3D choice. The format seems to be in a holding pattern, with Avatar: The Way of Water looking to potentially revitalize the market in that respect. The pressure is even greater for that fellow Disney release to perform, as another Marvel Cinematic Universe offering has fallen short in turning out 3D thrills worthy of the extra time.
Still, if you are a 3D loyalist, be sure to pick a theater you trust with handling the format properly. That knowledge will be even more valuable as we get closer to the release of James Cameron’s long awaited sequel, which looks to be the next time we’ll meet to work through another To 3D or Not To 3D adventure. Until next time, don’t forget to recycle your glasses on your way out of the auditorium or just give them a good cleaning if you decide to keep them for your next trip across the third dimension.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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