An animated movie has been at the top of the box office for three straight weeks. Now, a new challenger comes along hoping to dethrone Finding Dory, while still keeping animation king. Last summer Minions became one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, now The Secret Life of Pets hopes that they can have a repeat performance for Illumination entertainment. Unfortunately, this time, they'll be without those little yellow merchandise machines, except in a short before the feature of course.
However, this is not a review of The Secret Life of Pets. We have one of those (read it here!). Instead, this is a review solely of the film's 3D performance. Maybe you've already decided that you want to check out a movie that includes Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart, but do you want to spend extra cash to see it 3D. Let's break it down.
Generally speaking, animated films are always a perfect fit for 3D treatment. The fact that they are drawn, rather than filmed, means that 3D work can be done as part of the filmmaking process, and there's no need to rely on clunky, and often imperfect, post-production 3D conversion. The setup, which puts small animals in the big city, offers numerous opportunities to show scale using 3D, there's every reason in the world to make The Secret Life of Pets a 3D film.
At this point, nobody goes to work on an animated feature without expecting to make it 3D. We're pretty sure the studio throws you out of the building if you suggest it. It's clear that The Secret Life of Pets was visually designed to be in 3D from day one. There are some special moments that only come through if you're seeing it in this format. However, in some cases, it feels like the 3D wasn't able to overcome some shortcomings in the source material.
So few 3D movies these days actually do anything with the space in the front of the screen. I'd honestly thought they'd forgotten how to do it. The Secret Life of Pets does not forget. There are only a couple of really strong before the window scenes, and unfortunately, they both come within a couple minutes of each other, but they're there, and that's something.
With a movie that takes place in the big city, animated or not, there should be some sweeping vistas of that city. While they're there, you never really get a chance to check them out. Most of this isn't the fault of the 3D so much as it is the fact that the movie shows you everything from pet level, but the 3D doesn't do anything with the space they do have. All the action is near the front of the frame and your eye is never drawn to anything in the background.
The natural dimness that 3D glasses bring with them can be a real problem if the image on the screen is not bright enough. Luckily, this is never really an issue with The Secret Life of Pets. Every animal is a different color, and each color pops on the screen, giving you nice bright characters on nice bright backgrounds. There's no trouble telling what's going on, even in the sewers.
The glasses off test allows you to see how much depth is really being created in your image. While there are some scenes that give you a vast amount of depth, and thus a solid amount of blur, since most of the film's action takes place front and center in the frame, there's no need for the 3D to work that, hard, but the end result is a 3D picture that doesn't look as good as it could.
3D can cause motion sickness in some viewers as it has to play with your eyes, which can send your whole body into a fairly confused state. None but the most sensitive to this need to worry about The Secret Life of Pets. There aren't any scenes that are particularly fast moving in a way that might send your stomach running for cover.