In 2010, the otherwise forgettable Clash of the Titans remake made movie history by being by far the worst post-conversion 3D job anyone had ever seen, and anyone will likely ever see. After the success of Avatar a few months earlier, Warner Bros. decided to post-convert Clash into 3D with just six weeks to go until its release, forcing the filmmakers to release half-done 3D effects that were either ugly or actively nauseating. This version of Clash no longer exists, of course-- the 3D effect on the Blu-Ray is totally different-- but those of us who saw it in theaters remember it as an example that, no matter how bad the 3D movie you're watching is, it can always be worse.
With Wrath of the Titans, Warner Bros. is attempting to make up for past mistakes by releasing a film that's once again post-converted into 3D, but done with more care and time than the first time around. So did they succeed? Did director Jonathan Liebesman make a 3D film that's actually worth the extra ticket price? Find out in our latest installment of To 3D or not to 3D, in which we run down a series of criteria to help you figure out the best ticket to buy to this weekend's CGI monster extravaganza.
Does It Fit?
When you've got a big epic film with lots of CGI creatures, swords clanging around, armies kicking up dirt and people bellowing things to the sky, you've pretty much got what modern digital 3D was made for. The more CGi the better in these things, and Wrath of the Titans pulls out a whole lot of computer-generated beasts and armies and magical tridents. They've even got brighter colors that really pop in 3D, thanks to a large chunk of the film that takes place in the Underworld. It's not quite a perfect match like Hugo and Avatar, but it's pretty close to as good as you'll get.
Planning & Effort
Yes, this film was made with post-conversion 3D, which you can choose as a knock against it. But director Liebesman has talked about his decision-making process and how he wound up post-converting, and he did seem to put some thought in it. Most importantly, he knew all along he was making a 3D film, which gave him time to account for some good 3D gags, edit around the 3D effects, and even set up entire scenes specifically to take advantage of the 3D. It's the exact opposite of the situation with Clash of the Titans, and the 3D is all the better for it.
Before the Window
Some people think that having things fly out at the screen at the audience-- that is, moving "before" the window of the movie screen-- is gimmicky. I think it's pretty much the point of 3D, which is why I was glad to see Liebesman use the technique sparingly in Wrath of the Titans, and to great effect. At one point a particular CGI monster opens its jaw wide to consume Perseus, and the aspect ratio of the film actually changes so it looks like the mouth is covering up the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. A few swords pop out at the screen, fire seems to be flying right at you-- the movie doesn't exactly stop and say "Look at this neat trick!" but it weaves it all into the action, which makes it even better. It's the perfect balance of gimmick and plain 3D fun.
Beyond the Window
There are a few moments in Wrath of the Titans when it really takes advantage of the added depth of 3D-- that is, making it seem like you're looking beyond the window of the movie screen into a real world. The stand out is a quick sequence in which the camera travels down into the depths of the underworld to visit Hades and Zeus, swooping over and around rocks as if you're on some kind of fiery roller coaster? Gimmicky? You bet. But very, very effective too. The depth of field doesn't come into play as much as it could in the big battle scenes, and it's clear the 3D conversion team picked the moments to take advantage of it, but when they use it, it's really well done.
You know how when you put on 3D glasses, it's literally like wearing sunglasses inside a dark theater? When 3D is done badly, that muddies up the image terribly, but Wrath of the Titans pretty much manages to overcome it; even scenes that take place in dark forests or on muddy battlefields show up just fine. Given that the first Clash of the Titans seemed to be taking place with the lights turned halfway down, this is quite an improvement.
The Glasses Off Test
If you ever suspect a movie isn't doing very much to earn your extra 3D ticket price, take off your glasses and test it for yourself. The blurrier an image is, the more an image will pop in 3D when you put them back on; if it looks pretty much the same without the glasses, you've wasted your money. The well-done 3D effects of Wrath of the Titans means you get a lot of blur, even in scenes that don't seem all that 3D-ified with glasses on. The 3D doesn't grab you by the throat in every single scene, but even when there are just two people talking, the 3D depth is in subtle use.
If you saw Jonathan Liebesman's previous film Battle: Los Angeles, you know he's got a penchant for the kind of shaky camera work that can make even hardy moviegoers ill. Luckily he tamps it down in Wrath of the Titans, but maybe not enough to suit everyone who gets queasy in 3D movies. He does a nice job of compensating for the blur effect of 3D when deciding how to move his camera, but this movie does move quickly, so use your judgment if you're prone to 3D nausea.
|Before The Window||5|
|Beyond The Window||4|
|The Glasses Off Test||5|
|Total Score||31 (out of a possible 35)|
Final Verdict: You've really got nowhere to go but up after Clash of the Titans, but Wrath of the Titans is a genuinely good example of how post-conversion 3D can be used for live-action films, planned out carefully and used to a really nice, but not obnoxious extent, throughout the movie. With a slightly goofy subject matter that lends itself well to the spectacle of 3D, Wrath of the Titans is about as well-suited to the format as you can possibly get. The 3D won't add some crucial element to the movie experience, but if you're a 3D fan, you'll probably get what you pay for here.
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For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.
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