To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Eternals Ticket

Richard Madden's Ikaris shooting energy beams from eyes in Eternals
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

As director Chloé Zhao's Eternals takes its place as the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot of questions are about to be answered. In-between queries like what sort of consequences this film puts into play for the MCU at large, and what those end credits sequences really mean, there are some familiar subjects also waiting to be addressed. Like, say, To 3D or Not To 3D? 

If you’re looking for details on how Marvel’s Eternals measures up as a film, check out Eric Eisenberg’s official review. But if you’re more concerned with whether or not the latest MCU entry is worth the extra 3D money, or if you’re better off shopping from IKEA’s fall collection, this is the place to be. Time to take a deeper look at the 3D presentation of Eternals, starting with whether or not the movie fits the bill for this sort of premium enhancement.


In terms of the action and thrills that Eternals presents, the movie is an absolute fit for the 3D medium. If anything, this is a movie that uses the Before and Beyond fields in equally impressive measure. That being said, there’s one massive drawback that director Chloe Zhao’s gorgeous 2D aesthetic brings to the 3D table, and it’s the usage of muted colors and natural lighting through most of Eternals.  


The Planning and Effort factor of Eternals’ 3D presentation suffers most from the fact that those muted colors and natural lighting play havoc with being able to see things clearly. That particular disappointment stings harder with this film, as there are some impressive factors that could have really shined. After seeing Dune's 3D presentation work with purposely dimmed surroundings and bright desert vistas with equally brilliant effect, this feels like a slip-up that didn't have to happen. With Eternals being hard to watch through the murky picture quality, it doesn’t feel like the entire 3D conversion process was given equal love and attention. 


Let’s get some positives into the mix, because there are pieces of Eternals’ 3D conversion that absolutely should have shined. And in a rare feat, this Marvel adventure surprisingly throws a consistent, yet not annoying, amount of objects out at the audience. Gigantic lava rocks, various weapons from the titular Eternals, and even Kumail Nanjiani gesturing towards the camera in a Bollywood musical number all break the window rather smartly. It all makes the impressive depth of picture all the more exciting. 


If you look into the background of any moment in Eternals, you’ll be able to see characters and their surroundings clearly separated. Certain moments, like Gemma Chan’s big London fight sequence in the first act, are especially well drawn, as you can look down the street for what seems like forever. Even simple conversation scenes manage to pop, with spatial reasoning making those moments feel all the more real. The perfect Before/Beyond the Window combo is an awesome effect to land, but we’re about to hit the greatest pain point Eternals 3D conversion has to offer. 


It has always been, and always will be, important to make sure that the brightness of a 3D movie is well tended to. Just ask anyone who’s seen the Fantastic Beasts movies in this particular format. Slipping polarized lenses onto your face tends to darken the picture to a certain degree, and the MCU's latest suffers harshly in this specific factor. The entire movie is a dim mess to watch, with some shots of natural daylight looking nigh unwatchable. This isn’t solely the fault of the conversion, as theaters don’t always properly calibrate their 3D rigs between showtimes. Considering this is the same location that was used to evaluate the 3D conversion of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it might be time to remove this venue from the rotation.


Shifting back to the last positive of this 3D showing for Eternals, if you happen to take off your glasses to give your eyes some much needed light, you’ll see some blurriness. That’s natural for a 3D movie, as the effect is supposed to draw contrasting images that match up into a three dimensional image when you put on your glasses. There’s absolutely no problem here, as that blur takes the shape of wide shots in double vision, as well as background manipulation that separates characters and features from their surroundings. 


The attack on Druig’s (Barry Keoghan) camp is the greatest example of why the movie's audience health score is so low. A dimly lit sequence set in a forest camp, with tons of spinning camera angles, flying, and fast paced action, it’s a perfect storm for the sort of stuff 3D does wrong. And yet again, it’s the dimness of the picture that really stands out, as most of the visuals don’t really wonk the eyes out on their own. So that’s even more proof that frequent Marvel collaborators Legend 3D aren't totally to blame for the issues; especially considering the company’s work on the 3D version of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.


Eternals gets the right things wrong, turning what could have been a sterling 3D presentation into a borderline nightmare. While the visuals at play take advantage of playing with the canvas of the film, the darkness is so great that it spoils the fun. Maybe in another theater the brightness isn’t as much of a problem but, in this viewing, that factor alone made this a chore to sit through. If you want truly thrilling 3D, and aren’t married to the idea of seeing Eternals, there’s always showings of Dune and No Time To Die to consider. 

Of course, the choice is up to you, dear reader. With Marvel's Eternals currently available in pretty much every major format, you can see it in 3D, IMAX, Dolby Vision, or whatever other choice you have your heart set on. Just make sure that if you choose 3D, it’s with a theater you can trust. And if you want to catch up on previous 3D evaluations, head over to our full To 3D Or Not To 3D Archive.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.