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To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Thor: Love And Thunder Ticket

Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Everybody’s ready to welcome Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman back to theaters with Thor: Love and Thunder. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s return to the realm of the box office has been awaited long enough, and thankfully that means there’s some very important questions to ask. One of the most pressing is, as you’ve already guessed by now, To 3D or Not To 3D?

If you’re looking for the official verdict on this latest MCU chapter as a film experience, feel free to read Eric Eisenberg’s official Thor: Love and Thunder review. However, if you’re ready to see if you’re better off spending the 3D ticket money on a pair of magical screaming goats, this is the place to be. Let’s put on our glasses, and call down the thunder on Taika Waititi’s latest Marvel movie.

FIT SCORE - 5/5

Thor is not only one of the OG franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was also the first Phase 1 movie to bring 3D thrills to the table. From that point, the rest of this stand-alone franchise and its theatrical siblings would regularly engage in this premium format. So historically, Thor: Love and Thunder is a fit. 

Practically, Taika Waititi’s latest excursion into Asgardian lore also presents itself as something that fits within the world of the format. On a visual level alone, seeing mythical weapons, showboating thunderbolts, and even debris flying at the audience prove that Thor: Love and Thunder is a clear fit for this medium. However, that doesn’t mean the execution lives up to the intent. 

PLANNING & EFFORT - 3/5

The impressive 3D of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a high water mark for the current run of MCU movies. As Kevin Feige flat out admitted that it was the first Marvel film in a while that consciously aimed to maximize its third dimensional output, I thought this would be a sign of things to come. While Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t a complete disappointment, it’s certainly not on the same level as that previous 3D outing in the MCU.

Stereo-D is back at it with the conversion efforts for this latest Thor adventure, as they’re pretty much the lab of choice for Marvel’s cinematic efforts. The good news is that we’re still treated to a decent 3D experience through Love and Thunder, with some standout moments scattered throughout. However, with one very specific character feeling like they're almost erased from certain scenes, it's an experience that's unfortunately lacking.

BEFORE THE WINDOW - 3/5

Watching the 3D trailers for Thor: Love and Thunder, I got a good idea of what sort of elements I would be looking for as potential third-dimensional standouts in the Before the Window category. Through this entire series, Chris Hemsworth’s mighty weapons flying through the air have been somewhat of a highlight. As such, one could expect more of the same flying out of the window and into the laps of the audience in Love and Thunder.

It works to a certain degree, especially with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster using her re-assembed Mjolnir to split apart and take on several foes at once. Also, Bifrost travel and Thor’s own lightning attacks with Stormbreaker make for some rather neat thrills that poke out at the audience; as well as subtle moments of characters pointing out to the camera. Again, consistency is what knocks this score down, as moments that look like they’re primed to stick out, like say Zeus’s showboating with lightning bolts, never fulfill their true promise.

BEYOND THE WINDOW - 4/5

Faring better in the overall 3D conversion of Thor: Love and Thunder is the Beyond the Window aspect, which draws the picture’s depth. This is a more consistent area of play, as some pretty wide vistas of view are presented in the various locales visited. As such, the depth drawn is pretty successful, but stops short of the limitless nature places like Omnipotence City should be displaying. 

Despite that reservation, characters are well drawn and distanced from their environments and each other. A crucial battle scene, in which a group of children are pitted against an army of shadow monsters, is a good example of where this factor works best. Though it’s not perfect, this Thor movie gets depth and distance right pretty much throughout the movie.

BRIGHTNESS SCORE - 2/5

Brightness is the perennial thorn in the side of any 3D conversion effort. Slipping on a pair of polarized grey and black lenses automatically dims the picture you’re about to see, so this is a factor that always needs some special attention. Unfortunately, this is a specific factor that seems to have been let down in Thor: Love and Thunder, especially when it comes to one character in particular. 

Certain scenes with Gorr the God-Butcher are set in pretty dark settings, which is compounded by the fact that Christian Bale’s villain has a stark black and white quality to his person. This led to Gorr almost disappearing from certain sequences of night and low lighting, which was totally frustrating. As for the rest of Thor: Love and Thunder, the highly colorful and sometimes soft focused visuals were done dirty by the dimmed quality. 

Even scenes with colorful alien races accompanied by the Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t pop like they should. It’s a small consolation, but at least the really bright scenes managed to look somewhat normal. As always, your mileage may vary in this aspect, as it really depends on how well the theater you frequent calibrates their equipment. In this case, the screening observed for Thor: Love and Thunder was annoyingly dim, washing out the unique colors that are supposed to glow off of the screen.

GLASSES OFF SCORE - 3/5

The degree of blur that’s present when you take your 3D glasses off is usually indicative of how much manipulation went into presenting the images on the screen. Thor: Love and Thunder has a case of visual blurring where it mostly occupies the backgrounds, with some blur bordering the edges of characters acting as visual anchor points. That’s fine, but it’s rather standard, even when it comes to the wildly uneven 3D results coming out of the MCU.

While the 3D effects are still very much present, there are some moments where it’s hard to pick out if there’s any blur in the first place. Love and Thunder has some scenes that feel more blurred than others, which may lead to the inconsistent usage of Before/Beyond the Window thrills. 

AUDIENCE HEALTH - 3/5

Thor: Love and Thunder won’t give you nausea, nor is it a totally taxing experience on your eyes while watching. Those comforts are simple, but pretty relevant while watching a 3D presentation in a theater near you. Although, when it comes to the sake of your eyes, this is a format you might want to skip; if only for your own sanity.

Between the frustration of Gorr the God Butcher playing a near disappearing act in special scenes, the dimness of Thor 3 sticks out throughout the movie. There seemed to be a significant bit of strain when it came to watching this 3D picture. While it wasn’t enough to wonk out the picture totally, you may find yourself feeling tired because of the extra work you have to do to observe the dimmed picture that results. 

FINAL VERDICT:  23/35

Thor: Love and Thunder’s 3D presentation just might be the worst one in Phase 4 yet. The handling of Gorr the God Butcher alone has seen this movie edge past not only the disappointing 3D score for Black Widow, but also the previous low point that was known as the Eternals 3D experience. There’s always the potential for the IMAX 3D version to be a marked improvement, as I noted with a post-evaluation screening of Jurassic World Dominion. However, with limited showings in what’s becoming a unicorn of a format, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to test that theory out this time around.

If you’re going to see Thor: Love and Thunder, you’re better off holding out for the IMAX 2D or Dolby experience. But if you’re dead set on 3D, I’d make a cautious but untested recommendation of seeking the IMAX 3D showings in your neighborhood. As for what title we’ll next be evaluating the wonderful world of 3D, I’m not quite sure when we’ll meet again. 

While we have Avatar: The Way of Water potentially reviving this niche market, that won’t be hitting screens until December of this year. But I’ll be keeping my eyes open, waiting for that next trip to the third dimension to present itself. At which time, you can bet we’ll meet back here and ask ourselves, yet again, To 3D or Not To 3D?

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.