To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right San Andreas Ticket

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is going to be going toe-to-toe with the biggest earthquake the world has ever seen this weekend, but the film comes with an option for audiences: do you want to see the epic destruction in 3D, or is it a better experience in 2D? We’re here to help you make your decision.

Now while we won’t be evaluating the quality of the film itself, we will be telling you if you should seek out your nearest 2D screening, or if you should shill out some extra dough to get an extra dimension in your San Andreas experience. So strap on your helmet and get ready for us to score the film’s 3D worthiness!

Fit Score


Disaster movies are all about major set pieces and watching them crumble in epic fashion – which lends itself to the 3D experience quite nicely. Action films are nice for the extra dimension, as thrills are enhanced when you feel more immersed in the experience, and San Andreas doesn’t disappoint in this area.

Planning & Effort Score


Need proof that San Andreas has always been planned as a 3D movie? Well, you need look no further than its original title. When the project was first announced back in 2011, it was actually called San Andreas 3D. Add the fact that the movie was actually shot in native 3D, and you have a well-deserved perfect score for planning and effort.

Before the Window Score


Often classified as the more gimmicky aspect of the three-dimensional experience, "Before The Window" looks at the elements of the movie that look like they’re actually coming right at the audience. You’d think that there would be an abundance of this in a disaster film as silly as San Andreas, but there really isn’t much. Things like dust particles and helicopter blades do occasionally break the plane of the screen and come into the theater, but these effects are surprisingly kept to a minimum.

Beyond the Window Score


Helping to counterbalance San Andreas’ less than stellar "Before The Window" score is the lengths it goes to actually create a sense of depth. There are many wide shots used in the movie to try and capture as much destruction as possible, and these angles provide great opportunity for the 3D to shine. I’m knocking off a point because it’s not as effective in more intimate scenes, but largely the film knows what it’s doing in this area.

Brightness Score


Until the glasses-free version is perfected, we’re all going to have to deal with the shaded lenses version of 3D - which puts the onus on filmmakers to make sure that their movies are bright enough that the glasses don’t make everything look grey and muddy. With the exception of some darker/underwater sequences, San Andreas is largely successful in this department, as almost all of the action takes place during the day and outdoors.

Glasses Off Score


When it comes to 3D films, the extra-dimensional effect is created because two separate images are being combined though the specialty lenses you wear - and removing the lenses reveals the way that the 3D has been layered on the screen to create a sense of depth. While watching San Andreas, I took regular opportunities to peek over the edge of my glasses to get a behind-the-effect look at what the film was delivering. I’m happy to report that the movie was actually hard to watch this way, because a great deal of layering made the film very blurry.

Audience Health Score


This is admittedly a rather subjective area, as everyone has different responses to the 3D experience. I personally rarely feel negative effects – but I did experience some while watching San Andreas. Whether it’s because of ill-placed focal points or the editing, I did find myself getting headaches while watching the Brad Peyton-directed film. It should be mentioned that I saw the film in 4DX – which introduces a number of other factors that may have influenced my "health" – but I don’t feel that the 3D in the movie helped.


3D Fit


P & E


Before The Window


Beyond The Window




Glasses Off Test


Audience Health


Total Score


Final Verdict: Given the movie’s origins in development, you’d think that San Andreas would have much stronger 3D than it actually does. And while it isn’t exactly one of the best 3D films I’ve ever seen, I’m still going to recommend the format. Disaster movies do really work surprisingly well with the extra dimension, and there’s a touch more enjoyment to get out of the experience in the new earthquake flick.

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Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.