Lines are being drawn in the sand. On one side, Team Captain America fights for freedom of superheroes to decide who they fight, when they fight and where. On the other side, Team Iron Man wants government intervention, to help stave off the collateral damage inflicted by The Avengers.
Well, we have our own little war of words going on as Captain America: Civil War starts screening internationally. On one side, we have audiences who are willing to pay the full price for a 3D ticket to Marvel’s latest adventure. And on the other side, we have loyal To 3D readers who need to know if the time and effort put in to the Civil War conversion is worth it. That’s why our column exists. It’s not a review of the movie. (You can find that here.) It is a SPOILER-FREE discussion of the 3D presentation of Captain America: Civil War to help you determine which ticket you should buy.
By this point, every superhero movie is designed for the 3D presentation. These live-action adaptations of our cherished comic-book stories (be they Marvel, DC or another company) go to great lengths to lift the action off of the page, so Civil War certainly stands out as one of the recent blockbusters that was made with 3D in mind when telling its story.
Planning & Effort Score
Knowing that comic-book audiences are expecting top-of-the-line 3D out of the latest Marvel feature, co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo appear to have put a LOT of thought into how 3D will affect their scenes and their specific visuals. Objects like Cap’s shield, Iron Man’s gauntlets, Spider-Man’s webs and Falcon’s Red Wing glider are designed for 3D, while the Russo’s cameras often find a great angle on which to perch, to really take advantage of the extra layers.
Before the Window Score
I simply accept the fact that Before the Window isn’t a priority for 3D in the modern age. Whereas 3D used to be used to make objects pop off the screen and into your lap, nothing in Civil War does that – despite having numerous opportunities to make audiences jump in their seats with the technological trick. Civil War will place objects deep in the foreground to create a little edge. It’s cool, but not overwhelming.
Beyond the Window Score
To that end, Civil War uses its 3D to create what looks like three layers to each scene, positioning characters or larger objects in such a way that the depth stands out. That gives Captain America a strong Beyond The Window score, because the images have impressive depth in multiple scenes. It gives the film a 3D quality, enhancing the image. I took a point off because a couple of scenes blurred out as you scanned their deep backgrounds… something that I think is unavoidable when you film with live-action on actual film (and not animation, or CGI).
Brightness – or a lack thereof – isn’t an issue for Captain America: Civil War, as there was never a moment, or a particular scene, where I thought the darkness of the visual was blocked out by the 3D glasses. Several action sequences take place in daylight, which always helps. But even the final act, which is set in a darker prison/laboratory (no spoilers) throws enough artificial light to overcompensate for the glasses. Disney/Marvel has figured out how to "light" live-action for 3D.
Glasses Off Score
We run the Glasses Off test to see how much blur is on the visuals when you remove your specs, telling us how much 3D enhancement has been done to the actual film. A high grade (a 4 or a 5) means there was a LOT of blur, signifying a rich 3D experience. Civil War had minimal blur on the moments where I took my glasses off. In fact, at 2 hours and 30 minutes, it gets annoying wearing the glasses, so it’s somewhat helpful that you can take the glasses off during quiet conversation scenes and not have to look at blurry actors.
Audience Health Score
Captain America: Civil War never shakes and shimmies to the point where you’ll be heaving into your popcorn bucket, I’d be lying if I told you that the images on screen stayed in crisp, clear focus during the film’s numerous fight sequences. There are a LOT of fight sequences in Civil War. Naturally. It’s called Civil War, which implies that two sides are going to battle. And as seamlessly choreographed as most of the sequences are, the 3D fizzes out when Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is taking down soldiers or Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is trying to kill the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). It’s not a huge problem… but it is an issue.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: The 3D in Joe and Anthony Russo’s is good, but it isn’t essential. It supplements the visuals, and makes so many of the sequences look cool, with deep focus (that falls a bit short of animated features). But the 3D isn’t great in the fast-moving action sequences (of which there are many), and I didn’t really notice any major 3D moments in the movie’s benchmark scene, the airport fight. You won’t hate the 3D if you pay for it, but you also won’t miss it if you don’t.
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