After repeated delays
and much speculation, the historically-inspired fantasy feature 47 Ronin
has at long last come to theaters! Keanu Reeves, The Wolverine
's Hiroyuki Sanada and Pacific Rim
's Rinko Kikuchi star in this action-adventure tale about a band of shamed samurai who risk death and eternal dishonor to avenge their master, who died because of a manipulative lord and a shape-shifting sorceress. It's been a long wait in part because of the arduous work involved in 3D filmmaking, but has it all been worth it?
This is what we seek to uncover in our To 3D Or Not To 3D column. Here we evaluate a movie's utilization of 3D through seven categories, considering the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Consider it a consumer's guide for your moviegoing, where you can weigh in on how you plan to see 47 Ronin
through our viewers poll.
As a fantasy adventure that features sprawling fight scenes, rolling landscapes, and a barrage of monsters that include dragons, giants, and other razor-teethed beasts, 47 Ronin
seems a terrific base for 3D. Add to this premise the whipping swirls of fabric in fight scenes and the fluttering of snow and ash, and it's a great starting point for the immersive device.
Planning & Effort Score
The plans to make 47 Ronin
in 3D were announced back in 2010
, when Universal declared the film would be shot in 3D versus post-converted. Beyond the fact that this typically results in higher quality 3D images, shooting for 3D also tends to prevent filmmakers from selecting shot choices that clash with the extra dimension, like out of focus foreground elements or whip pans. Director Carl Rinsch, who makes his feature directorial debut here, manages to avoid these 3D pitfalls. However, a favoring of tight close-ups kills a lot of the film's opportunities to let the device shine.
Before the Window Score
This is the aspect of the 3D viewing experience where it seems that elements of the moving are coming out into the theater. 47 Ronin
makes use of this in some atmospheric moments, like having snow flakes or little licks of flames and smoke transcend this space. Sometimes you might even notice a slashing sword or some snarling monster paws pushing before the window.
Beyond the Window Score
Where Before the Window reaches into the theater, Beyond the Window is the element of 3D that enhances the feeling of depth back into the screen. Peppered with striking sets like villain-stuffed pirate ships, expansive fields, thickly tangled forests, and delicately decorated palaces, there are plenty of platforms for this device to be made useful. Unfortunately, Rinsch drapes his movie in smoke, fog, and darkness, which cuts down on the depth of field and the beyond-the-window effect. Some subpar computer-generated backdrops also make for less-than-stellar 3D stages.
Inevitably, putting on 3D glasses makes the movie look dimmer. Crafty helmers compensate by boosting up the film's brightness accordingly, but it seems Rinsch overlooked this 3D snare. Various scenes take place at night, or in dark caverns, and to be frank it can be hard to make out all the details therein. Worse yet, the gorgeous color-pallette Rinsch chose for his fantastical fable of bravery and beasts is signifigantly sullied and dulled by the grey 3D glasses sheen.
This is the simplest way to see how much 3D you're getting in a given scene. Basically, take your glasses off and consider how blurry portions of the picture are. Then put them back on and see the 3D pop anew. I ran this super scientific test throughout 47 Ronin
and am sorry to report that there was little popping back at me when I put my 3D specs back on.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can actually be bad for your health causing headaches or nausea. Thankfully, 47 Ronin
's 3D was solid--or maybe nonexistent--enough that there were no ill-effects of it within the 127-minute run time.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
It's a shame that the 3D for this film is so lackluster. The premise was a great fit for it, and Universal seemed dedicated to implementing the device before production began, which should have made for a more thoughtful and thorough use of it. But the results were underwhelming and brought little oomph to this action-packed samurai story. You can read my full review
to see why 47 Ronin
might be worthwhile, but I'd recommend avoiding that 3D ticket.