Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines for another dose of Pixar magic, all thanks to Cars 3! As Lightning McQueen races towards the box office, fans of the first two Cars films will be ready to soak in the speedy antics that delighted them through the first two outings. But the big question is, will the film be worth the extra 3D juice, or would the audience be better off staying with the sticker priced model of this flick?
Cue the theme music, as To 3D or Not To 3D is here to test this film's 3D horsepower at top flight. If you want to get our opinion of the film proper, then you're going to have to head over to our official review, which can be found here. Otherwise, it's time to buckle up and open up the throttle, as we're going to see if Cars 3 should rightfully add that extra "D" to its title.
While family friendly thrill rides are normally a shoo-in for 3D, Cars 3 isn't exactly the easiest sell. With a lot of the action pertaining to cars racing around, and Lightning McQueen's personal journey back to racing, a third dimension doesn't always enhance what's on the screen. But what does manage to redeem and enhance this film's 3D presentation are the wide shots of various locales, the environmental effects like sparks, smoke, and debris, and the race sequences that put you in the middle of the action.
Disney / Pixar has had its fair share of issues when it comes to 3D presentations. For a medium that seems like a slam dunk for conversion, their third dimensional prowess could use some touching up. Cars 3 is the latest product to show those warts, as the factors of blur and brightness suggest that the planning into the film's enhancements isn't as refined as one would hope. Though other factors, such as depth of picture and audience health, seem to be in order, making the finished project watchable.
3D films like to throw objects at their audience, and to varying effects. In the case of Cars 3, there are some aspects that do a fine job of projecting into the audience. An especially interesting segment is the big Lightning McQueen wreck that's shown in all of the trailers for the film, as that manages to kick up a lot of dust, sparks, and various pieces of race day debris. But again, the personal aspects of this film -- the quieter emotional moments -- don't really send much flying out into the audience, and that's a good portion of this film's content.
One of the components where Cars 3 really shines is the scope of the depth in the images on screen. There's plenty of wide shots of stadiums, crowds, and racing action, and all of it manages to come through on the big screen. A fun trick to gauge the depth of picture is to compare it to the border of the screen. While there's not a lot of objects consistently being thrown at the audience, there's a consistent level of depth being conveyed through the entire film, so we're giving Cars 3 our highest score here.
A huge problem with most 3D films is the fact that the brightness of picture is a crucial factor that seems to fall short quite often. Cars 3, as colorful of a film as it is, lacks the proper brightness factor to show off the varied color palette that it inhabits. Your mileage may vary on this factor, as specific theaters may not calibrate their 3D projectors properly when switching between 2D and 3D presentations. But even comparing the brightness of picture with and without the usage of 3D glasses, this film muddies itself quite a bit.
If you take your glasses off at any given point during a 3D movie, you should expect a bit of the usual blurriness to the images being presented. Usually, the blurrier the image is, the better a chance the image is being conveyed with depth and clarity. In the case of Cars 3, there is an impressive amount of blur, but unfortunately it's in very limited quantity. While wide shots and action sequences can be quite blurry without the glasses, there are wide swaths of this film that don't even blur the image, making it seem like the film is showing 2D imagery, rather than 3D.
Another positive to Cars 3's 3D presentation is the fact that despite its flaws, it's still a very watchable product. You won't be suffering from nausea or motion sickness, and the film won't wonk out your vision at any point in the film. However, due to the brightness being a bit lackluster, your eyes may face some slight straining during the film, which means you might take your glasses off at various points during the film.