When discussing 3D, no name comes to mind faster than James Cameron. Thanks to his work on Avatar, the director has become synonymous not only with developing the new technology, but in trying to convince everyone that it's the future of filmmaking. With Cameron's protégé, Steven Quale, behind the camera of Final Destination 5, the question is: how effectively is he passing on the message?
With the horror film set to debut in theaters tomorrow, we've taken the time to break down the merits and faults of Final Destination 5's 3D. Check it out below and decide whether or not you think that the movie is worth spending the extra $4 on.
Does It Fit?
When determining whether or not a movie is a good fit for 3D, we here at Cinema Blend typically have two pieces of criteria: heavy use of computer generated effects and big action sequences. This is because CGI can be rendered to make better use of the technology and action scenes are the best way to show it off. There is, however, an exception that should be made for horror movies, particularly those like Final Destination 5. While there aren't any car chases or heavily detailed fight sequences, the beginning of the film, in which a suspension bridge collapses, and all of the blood splatter keeps the door wide open. Add in the fact that this is actually the second film in the franchise to be in 3D and you can say with confidence that Final Destination 5 is a solid fit.
Planning & Effort
Filming a 3D movie is not the same as making a 2D movie. The added effect requires the director to plan shots and composition differently and change blocking to better utilize the effect. Obviously this requires forethought and planning, both of which Final Destination 5 had. While one could make the argument that this sequel was always going to be in 3D simply because The Final Destination was in 3D, Steven Quale brought it to a day-to-day level. Speaking to Quale earlier this week about shooting in 3D, he talked about his preparation process, making the blocking and movement feel natural and even compensating for the size of the camera. “When you have such a big camera, you just have to plan ahead more in advance because if you have a big camera and have to change the lens, and it takes a few minutes to do that, you have two cameras, and so you have the other camera set up in advance so that you can get your next shot,” Quale said. “You have to be thinking ahead.”
Beyond The Window
Until some filmmaking wizard (i.e. James Cameron) comes up with a third, there will always be exactly two ways that a film can effectively use 3D. While I'll get to the second type in a moment, the first is the “beyond the window” effect, also known as “depth.” While many 3D movies, particularly those that have been post-converted, will only focus on the major set pieces, Quale makes most scenes in this film seem like you're looking through a window. A scene may simply contain two characters talking to one another, but the world around them often appears to stretch miles into the distance.
Before The Window
Remember how I was saying that there are two ways a film can effectively use 3D? Welcome to “Before The Window,” also known as, “throw shit at the audience!” This is often a specialty of 3D horror movies, as they tend to play up the gimmicky angle more than most, and in this respect Final Destination 5 doesn't disappoint. From the extended opening credits sequence – which is basically five minutes of objects falling towards the screen and crashing into glass – to the amount of blood and guts that spurt out of the main characters, I almost recommend wearing a poncho like you would at a Gallagher show (I'm really hoping somebody gets that reference). This aspect does have a flaw, however, which is that it does over-enhance the CGI and makes it look fake and any time the third dimension hurts visual quality it's going to be seen as a negative.
Only dickheads wear sunglasses indoors, but if you're watching a 3D movie you're forced to be a dickhead. The tint on 3D glasses is still a necessity and, sadly, it has the awful effect of making movies look muddy and fuzzy. A group of people out there somewhere are working their very hardest to solve this problem, but for now it's up to the director and editors to compensate. With Final Destination 5 the crew did its job and they did it well. While a 3D film will never be on par with a movie that you don't need sunglasses to watch, and the film doesn't solve the problem entirely, the film does offset the glasses well and even scenes filmed at night are clearer than we typically see.
As we always point out while writing these 3D reviews, the audience health aspect of a 3D film can be subjective: some people can't watch three seconds without feeling nauseous while others can sit and watch for six hours without any discomfort. That said, filmmakers can do their part by maintaining focus points and preventing the audience from constantly searching the screen to find what they are supposed to be looking at. In this respect, Final Destination 5 does a great job. The camera never spins wildly out of control, even during the most intense moments, and I can say that I personally walked out of the theater feeling 100% a-ok.
The Glasses Off Test
For as many advances 3D has made in the last few years, one aspect that's still yet to be perfected is the use of glasses. While there has been some headway in the field of glasses-less 3D, will still need to wear them in the theater. Why? Because a movie that uses 3D effectively will appear like a blurry, out-of-focus mess if you take them off. The good thing about this factor, though, is that peeking over the rims also happens to be a fairly good way to sense how the third dimension is being applied. Final Destination 5 is a film that requires the audience to keep their glasses on. As you can probably guess from reading everything above, the constant use of before and beyond the window makes the print appear layered and fuzzy. It's not as consistent as one would hope, but definitely far above average.
|Planning and Effort||4|
|Beyond The Window||4|
|Before The Window||3|
|The Glasses Off Test||4|
|Total Score||28 (out of a possible 35)|
Final Verdict: In short, the answer is an enthusiastic, “Yes!” This summer has been over-populated with post-conversion and 3D films that were never meant to be 3D films, but Final Destination 5's use of the technology is absolutely wonderful. Director Steven Quale knew what he was doing every step of the way while making this film in three-dimensions and it absolutely shines through. If you're a horror fan looking for a great 3D experience, Final Destination 5 is the movie you want to see.
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For more 3D analysis, visit our To 3D Or Not To 3D archive right here.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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