To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Ticket To The Martian

After 2012’s Prometheus and last year’s Exodus: Gods And Kings, Ridley Scott continued his 3D filmmaking spree with an ambitious adaptation of one of the best books in modern times. The Martian is arriving in theaters, waiting for the world to take its story of survival to heart. That’s all well and good, but has Sir Ridley continued the masterful work he put into Prometheus’ 3D, or will this be the one to prove that his past success with the format was a fluke?

That’s what we’re here to talk about, as To 3D Or Not To 3D goes to Mars with Mark Watney, and surveys the scenic vistas Mars has to offer. While we won’t be getting into the details about whether The Martian is worth your time at the movies, we will be discussing how good the 3D presentation of the film is. It’s time to science the shit out of The Martian, as we evaluate its 3D prowess.

Fit Score


The Martian is a film that’s as snarky as it is harrowing. With Mark Watney stuck on Mars, the 3D potential was always something to behold. But considering some of the events The Martian puts Watney through, a 3D release was as good of a fit as peanut butter and chocolate. Even more impressive is the fact that, again, the last time Ridley Scott messed around with 3D, we got Prometheus out of the deal.

Planning & Effort Score

5/ 5

While Prometheus was shot in native 3D, it looks like Ridley Scott used the fine folks at Stereo D to convert his newest film into three-dimensional brilliance. While initial reports didn’t mention the usage of 3D technology, Scott’s history with Prometheus as well as Exodus: Gods And Kings has solidified him as a filmmaker who isn’t afraid to use 3D - so long as the story suits it.

Before the Window Score


For a film as breathtaking as The Martian, it doesn’t lean too heavily on throwing things at the audience. Instead, the "Before The Window" factor is shown in various elements, such as debris and dust storming over the ARES 3, or the HUD display of Mark Watney’s computer logs being layered just above the image. While it’s mostly used as a subtle touch, there’s also elements that are thrown directly at the audience, for good measure.

Beyond the Window Score


While The Martian has it made in the Before The Window category, it’s really the "Beyond The Window" factor that shines in this movie. Most 3D pictures focus on creating depth for wide shots and superficial VFX elements that are more of an addition to the image being conveyed. Others use this factor to convey spacial reasoning in a room with multiple persons or objects. Not only does The Martian fulfill both of those requirements, it also nails the depth perception of the close up details, such as the ARES 3 suits and their various quirks.

Brightness Score


As good as The Martian’s 3D truly is, it still has the minor drawback of being a little dimmer than if you were to take your glasses off. While this factor depends on how well your local theater calibrated their 3D projector for the day, most 3D films will still suffer a ding in brightness quality. Still, The Martian maintains a good balance of colors - especially on the surface of the Red Planet itself.

Glasses Off Score


With any decent 3D film, raising the glasses will show the blurred effect that indicates the illusion of depth being generated in a 3D film. The Martian has a pretty good amount of that blurry picture quality, particularly when it comes to shots of distant landscapes. What’s even more amazing though is the fact that even when the image isn’t as blurry as you’d expect it to be, the depth doesn’t suffer.

Audience Health Score


The Martian, for the most part, is a painless 3D experience. That said, there were small parts here and there that seemed to wonk out a little bit. Which is a good time to remind you folks in the audience that you need to pick your seats carefully in a 3D presentation. Be sure to not get too close or too below the screen, and if possible try for as center of a seat as possible - especially in Large Format theaters.


3D Fit


P & E


Before The Window


Beyond The Window




Glasses Off Test


Audience Health


Total Score


Final Verdict: The Martian is not only one of the best films of the year, it’s one of the best 3D films this year. Your money is best spent on a 3D showing of this film, and on the biggest screen possible.

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Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.