To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Men In Black 3 Ticket

Coming to theaters a solid 10 years after the second film, Men in Black 3 is the first in the franchise to get the 3D treatment, and like so many other similar blockbusters, it's post-conversion 3D. Then again, the Men in Black movies have always been all about Rick Baker's fabulous creature design, and as comedies they're way more entitled to fling effects out of the screen at the audience. In a way, haven't the Men in Black movies kind of been in 3D all along?

If you're thinking of seeing the movie this weekend and don't know which ticket to shell out for, we've got you covered in the latest installment of To 3D or not to 3D. Read our step-by-step breakdown of the post-converted 3D and let us help you figure out which is the right ticket to buy. Let's do this!

Does It Fit?

Live-action films are never going to be a perfect fit in 3D, since real human beings just don't have the ability to pop out in three dimensions the way animation does. But Men In Black 3 benefits from a lot of CGI creepy crawlies, especially in the opening of the film, and Rick Baker's stunning creatures are pretty much what the medium was made for. Add that to the jokey tone of the franchise, in which lasers popping out of the screen makes perfect sense (we'll talk more about that later), and Men in Black 3 is about as perfect fit as you can get for a live-action film.

Fit Score: 4/5

Planning & Effort

Basically the minute the existence of Men in Black 3 was confirmed, it was planned for 3D. After all, this was back in the spring of 2010, when the world was still in Avatar fever and you'd have to be an idiot not to make your big movie in 3D. Director Barry Sonnenfeld tested 3D camera rigs before deciding to post-convert, and as he told The AV Club, he thinks it looks better than if he'd done it in native 3D. You don't just have to take his word for it though-- looking at the film it's clear many of the shots were staged specifically to take advantage of the format.

P&E Score: 5/5

Before the Window

This is the section where we always talk about the 3D elements that pop out of the screen at your-- you know, "before" the window that is the movie screen-- and usually we have disappointing results. Modern 3D movies, in attempts to seem "realistic" or some other nonsense, typically don't go for the gimmick of things flying off the screen at you. Wonderfully, Men In Black 3 has no interest in that. One of the most stunning shots of the movie happens in an electronics store, where a wall of TVs is showing a big flashy concert, and the laser lights fly straight out of the television and out to the audience. It's a pure gimmick moment that actually takes you out of the story-- how did they do that?-- but it's glorious all the same. There are a handful of other pop-out moments in the film, notably the spire of the Chrysler Building, but even though nothing quite matches those lasers, they're worth the 3D ticket on their own.

Before the Window Score: 5/5

Beyond the Window

As opposed to before the window, beyond the window is where we gauge how the 3D affects the depth of the world onscreen, making it look like you're looking through a window into another world. Men In Black 3 doesn't always take perfect advantage of this-- a scene at Cape Canaveral late in the movie doesn't really feel like the outdoors at all-- but the film has a lot of large sets that expand out beautifully in 3D. The MiB headquarters is especially great for that-- all the sight gags that Sonnenfeld crammed into the background of the first two films pop really, really well thanks to the 3D. The Men in Black world has always felt like one you want to discover, and the 3D makes that just a little more possible.

Beyond the Window Score: 4/5


There are a few scenes that take place at night that aren't quite as bright and shiny as they ought to be, but most of Men in Black III takes place in very well lit, almost glaringly bright spaces, perfect for showing off both the 3D and the creatures. This is the kind of thing that's crucial to account for in the filming process, and it's clear Sonnenfeld knew the bright world of Men in Black needed an extra boost here. Well done.

Brightness Score: 5/5

The Glasses Off Test

If you're watching a 3D movie and want to know just how "much" 3D is involved, take off your glasses for a minute. If you see a lot of blur around the characters, or it looks like there are two images, that means there's a lot of 3D effect when you put your glasses back on. Men in Black 3 doesn't go overboard with the blur effects, at least not in the moments that aren't intended to pop off the screen like crazy (see the "before the window" spot for more on that), but it does feel nicely layered most of the time, and the glasses-off test proves it.

Glasses Off Test: 4/5

Audience Health

In this category I always have to put myself in someone else's shoes, since I typically don't feel ill when watching 3D movies. But even though I know some people have trouble with quick-moving 3D, I don't think Men in Black 3 will present much of a problem. It's shot very traditionally, without all the whip-pans and shaky cam you find in a lot of modern action movies, and the camera is often set far away from the action to allow whatever gadget or creature is involved to be shown off to full effect. Sonnenfeld's directing style has always kind of been this way, but it's especially helpful with the 3D transfer to keep you from having to barf into your popcorn.

Health Score: 5/5

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3D Fit4
Before The Window5
Beyond The Window4
The Glasses Off Test4
Audience Health5
Total Score32 (out of a possible 35)

Final Verdict: 32 out of 35 is an exceptionally high score for a post-converted 3D movie, but Men in Black 3 really earns it. Not only is the post-conversion job done very well, with all the shots planned out ahead of time to maximize the 3D, but the jokey, eye-popping content of the movie is really well-suited to the format. Of course, the Men in Black movies also appeal to kids, and 3D tickets are expensive; this isn't' the Hugo kind of situation where the meaning of the film is inherently linked to the 3D. But if you like to see a good 3D movie once in a while, this is a perfect one to splurge on.

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Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend