With great power comes great responsibility. But with a greater budget allotted to a massive sequel, did director Marc Webb feel a great responsibility to crank up the 3D effects in his The Amazing Spider-Man 2
? The web-slinging wall crawler seems tailor-made for screen-popping 3D, gliding and weaving over the deep canyons of New York City as he combats complex visual villains like Electro and the Green Goblin. Did the movie work in 3D?
Our theatrical review
for The Amazing Spider-Man 2
weighs in on whether or not this new superhero release is worth your time. This column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man is a dynamic hero who spends the bulk of his time swinging through New York City on thin lines of artificial webbing. The filmmakers who have tackled Spidey on screen understand that part of the draw of the character is placing audience members in Spider-Man’s shoes as he soars and battles his various enemies. Spider-Man – as a hero – was made for 3D, and Marc Webb’s continued use of point-of-view shots elevate the visual work in this franchise.
Planning & Effort Score
Having laid out Peter Parker’s origin story, explaining how this conflicted teenager becomes a mighty hero, Marc Webb’s now able to take Spider-Man out for a ride. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
has several exciting action sequences (the most we’ve seen in a Spider-Man movie, to date), and Webb constructs them all with 3D in mind. After an action-packed prologue, the film kicks into high gear with an aerial chase between Spider-Man and a Russian mob. Later, Spider-Man confronts Electro (Jamie Foxx) for the first time in a brilliantly vivid Times Square sequence that fills every inch of the screen with deep colors. The final confrontation in a clock tower looks fantastic in 3D. The action sequences in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
really are structured well to take the best advantage of both 3D and IMAX, so if you can go BIG with The Amazing Spider-Man 2
, it will lead to a better experience.
Before the Window Score
Surprisingly, this is where The Amazing Spider-Man 2
falls short. "Before the Window" refers to anything that reaches past the screen into the audience’s lap. And Spider-Man
had multiple opportunities to extend past the window with webs, electricity blasts, the hero’s own body parts and other fun items like that. It never happens. There’s even a scene where Peter and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) are skipping rocks across a pond, and I swore it was included JUST for the 3D. But the rock stopped at the window. Odd.
Beyond the Window Score
Instead, the 3D focus for Webb and his team lies in deepening the environment in which Spider-Man operates. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
contains multiple memorable sequences that take place in deliberately visual locations – like Times Square, Park Avenue (against the Rhino), and a power plant that has been taken over by Electro. If you divert your eye away from the action, you will realize how deep and crisp the 3D makes these locations look on screen. The current 3D technology gives blockbusters real visual depth, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2
is no exception.
One critique of Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2
is that it’s a little too cartoony in its action, with the colors amped up to extreme comic-book levels. (Which fits, because it’s a comic book movie.) The decision might have been made to help enhance the 3D, and that works. Most of the action scenes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
take place during the daytime – a deliberate move Marc Webb made versus what he tried in the first film. And even when Spidey fights at night, it’s in brightly lit spaces like Times Square or a clock tower drenched in artificial light. Dimness definitely isn’t an issue in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The "Glasses Off" score measures just how much 3D you are getting at any one point. Remove the glasses, and the image on screen should look blurry and distorted. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2
didn’t look all that blurry, suggesting that the amount of 3D really wasn’t that extreme. I tested it during slower, dialogue-driven scenes. I tested it during the action scenes. The blur was there. But you could have watched chunks of The Amazing Spider-Man 2
without your glasses on, and I doubt that’s the studio’s desire.
Audience Health Score
Another winning score. The action in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
is surprisingly fluid. Even when Webb puts us in Spidey’s shoes for breathtaking swings around Manhattan, we don’t get the jiggle-cam effect that can have audiences clutching their stomachs as they wait for the movie to refocus. Webb pulls back from his action, relies on bullet-time to slow down the thrills, and ensures that you can watch his enjoyable sequel with zero concern for visual-induced nausea.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
If not for that disappointing "Before the Window" score, The Amazing Spider-Man 2
would rank pretty high on a 3D scale. Which surprised me, because while I was watching it, the lack of "Before the Window" tricks made me think that the 3D was an unnecessary component. I admit I really wanted to see Spider-Man swinging off of the screen more… but that doesn’t mean I can fully ignore all of the 3D decisions the film makes right (from Brightness to the Audience Health). On the whole, the 3D ticket is worth it, because it lends just one more exciting element to the movie Marc Webb has constructed for Spider-Man fans. And IMAX, I believe, is a must.