Attempting to do box office battle with the Disney champion that is Frozen this weekend is The Nut Job, a colorful adventure from up-and-coming animation studio ToonBox Entertainment. With a voice cast that boasts Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, and Maya Rudolph, this chipper children's movie follows the story of Surly, a squirrel whose banishment from Oakton's Central Park prompts him to plan a heist of a shady nut shop.
Our theatrical review weighs in on whether or not this cartoon is worthwhile, but here we'll dig deep into the feature's use of 3D. Looking at seven separate categories, our To 3D Or Not To 3D column considers the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your moviegoing, where you can weigh in on how you plan to see The Nut Job with our viewer poll.
As a computer-animated movie, The Nut Job has a step up in 3D execution as its planes are already broken out in a computer. This provides a great base from which to build 3D. Beyond that, this film focuses on a cast of kooky animal characters who are often being thrown into outlandish action, which plays well with the enhanced depth of field 3D offers.
Planning & Effort Score
3D releases for computer animated movies are a no brainer. And to ToonBox's credit, they entrusted its execution to producers who have worked on 3D films before, like Wookyung Jung, who worked on Korea's first-ever 3D animated feature Ark, and Daniel Woo, who been planning and producing 3D stereoscopic animation content since 2004. On top of that, ToonBox heads Hong Kim and Jay Ahn have made specializing in 3D tech a top priority for their in-development slate. So basically, a lot of time and care has gone into The Nut Job's planning.
Before the Window Score
You know when 3D seems like it's reaching right out into the theater? That aspect of the tech is "Before The Window," which is usually regarded as 3D's flashiest attribute. Unfortunately I didn't notice much use of it in The Nut Job, save for some nuts and popcorn that seemed to pop out a bit as they were tossed about.
Beyond the Window Score
Conversely, this category refers to the aspect of 3D that appears to extend back into the screen. The Nut Job makes some solid use of this, giving its main locations--Central Park and Maury's Nut Shop--a grander sense of depth. However, we spend little time in the former, and the latter is a pretty small shop. So there's not a lot of grandeur (think the castles of Frozen or the massive factory of Monsters Inc.) to really allow this element of 3D to sing.
An inherent drawback to 3D are those darn glasses that not only make things pop, but also make the movie dimmer. 3D prints (or files) should pump up the brightness to adjust. Still, some studios fail this simple consideration, doling out 3D action that is too dark and murky to make out. Thankfully, The Nut Job never makes this rookie mistake. Its colors are bright and vibrant even with 3D glasses on. So, you won't miss a moment.
Glasses Off Score
For an easy test to basically see how much 3D you're getting in a given scene, just take your 3D glasses off for a moment. Observe the blurriness onscreen. Basically, the blurrier a shot is, the more 3D you're getting. Now put your glasses back on, and the pop of 3D will be fresh to your eye again. I ran this test sporadically through The Nut Job, and it passed admirably, offering a noticeable blur throughout nearly every tested scene.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can actually be more than detrimental to your patience and pocketbook; it can be detrimental to your health, causing nausea of headaches. Thankfully, that wasn't the case for The Nut Job.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: All in all, I found The Nut Job's 3D to be acceptable. It's clearly there, and it's cleanly executed. However, its filmmakers haven't done anything especially thrilling with the device. It's not like Gravity or Avatar where the 3D is essential to get the complete viewing experience of the film. So unless you or your kids especially love all things 3D, I wouldn't call this 3D ticket a must-buy.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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