The most anticipated movie of the last several years is finally here. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived in theaters. Theaters will be running as many showings of this as they can possibly run in any given day. The fact that you are going to go see it is not really a question. The question is which showing should you attend?
With the exception of a re-release of The Phantom Menace, there’s never been a 3D Star Wars movie, so it’s hard to guess how well the galaxy far, far away will look in 3D. That’s where we come in. We look at the 3D experience separately from the film itself and figure out whether the extra money is worth it when it comes to 3D. Let's dive in!
Star Wars invented the science fiction blockbuster in 1977, and in recent years this particular genre has become a key part of studios’ 3D offerings. The Force Awakens has all the things that make outer space worlds great fodder for the technology. Massive outer space worlds, a combination of practical and digital effects, and intense fight sequences are all the things that you probably want to see in 3D, and this movie gives you all of that.
Planning & Effort Score
Star Wars has always been a series that has embraced new technology in its storytelling. Add to that the fact that the movies are now being produced by Disney, who has extensive experience in producing 3D films for everything from computer animated fairy tales to Marvel superhero movies, and you have a recipe for a film that’s going to do their best to see what they can get out of 3D. The effort is clear in Force Awakens.
Before the Window Score
The Force Awakens doesn’t waste any time throwing things at the audience to make them jump. There isn’t a lot of great action taking place in front of the frame, but this does mean that when something finally does happen, you notice. One moment in particular (no spoilers), in which the film puts something right up close for the audience to gaze at, wouldn’t be nearly as impressive without the 3D.
Beyond the Window Score
Wow, just wow. Star Wars has always been good at making their worlds feel real but the 3D of The Force Awakens takes all of that one step further. The new planets you will visit feel that much more expansive thanks to the depth of the field that the technology creates. The desert wasteland of Jakku stretches out before you and it’s beautiful. Space feels as large and empty as a place as it ever has as the stars stretch out before you. You ever wanted to feel like you’re inside the Millennium Falcon? Of course you have. In 3D, you will.
The very nature of 3D makes things look a little darker than they otherwise would on the movie screen. If this were the bright and shining world of the Star Wars prequels, it would likely make up for that darkness, but this is a galaxy still trying to recover from the tyranny of the Empire. Everything still has that feeling of being old, and slightly broken down. The darker world doesn’t help the darkness of 3D. That being said, the contrast is clear and crisp, so nothing degenerates into a muddled mess. The extra dimness shouldn’t harm the experience, but it is there.
Glasses Off Score
While this is far from the most scientific test to see how much 3D is really going into the movie, it can still be a useful one. How much is the 3D really using the background as opposed to simply moving the foreground activity up? For the most part, there is always a significant amount of motion blur because the layers of 3D are always being kept busy. Not too much. Just enough.
Audience Health Score
There may be no better test for 3D motion sickness than X-wing dogfights. These scenes are by far the most fast paced in the film where everything is happening on screen at once. Multiple layers of dogfighting spacecraft flying through the frame, all while laser blasts flash the screen. As soon as the first battle scene began, I started to wonder how well this was going to work out. The answer is, it works out just fine. Most people should be able to watch this without getting ill at all.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: Let’s face it. Not only are you going to go see The Force Awakens, but there’s a good chance you’re going to go see it more than once. If that’s the case, you should make at least one showing 3D, if only to see what the film has to offer. Even if you’re not planning multiple viewings, there’s nothing wrong with making a 3D screening the one to start with.
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