After a quiet beginning to 2019, the 3D front is firing up throughout the month of February. And among the movies attempting to blow our minds in these early months is Alita: Battle Angel, a movie that’s taken the long way around to the box office, but looks ready to play. So naturally, with both Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron involved in the film’s production, there was no doubt that the 3D experience was going to come into play at some point.
Obvious to a fault, the time has come to ask one major question of Alita: Battle Angel: To 3D, or Not To 3D? If you’re wondering what we thought about the film, you can read our official review and find out. But if you’re ready to learn if you should spend some extra ticket money on the 3D version, or save that version for some wagers on a friendly game of Motorball, you’ve come to the right place.
One look at the world of Alita: Battle Angel is all that any audience would need to be convinced this was a 3D film in the making. The futuristic sci-fi feel of Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron putting their heads together, as well as their support of the medium since its earliest days, almost ensured that this film would be a 3D stunner. It’s a practical hand in glove match to provide Alita with a 3D upgrade.
As fit for 3D fighting as Alita: Battle Angel is, it doesn’t take full advantage of its format. In particular, there are some pieces of the film that feel rather flat in the 3D space, as well as a distinct lack of assets jumping off the screen for most of the film. Considering how this film took the time to overcome the Brightness problem, as well as provide some serious depth to its Beyond The Window factor, the lack of flinch worthy thrills set things back a bit.
When Alita: Battle Angel turns on the 3D charm, there are some spectacular shots of items flying at the audience. Cyborg parts and enhancements make the best use of this portion of the film’s 3D presentation, and the ensuing battles that require them have some nice bits that jump out at the audience. Which is why the majority of the film’s lack of big 3D pop-outs knocks this score down a couple points.
Thankfully, the depth of the world that Alita: Battle Angel represents in the 3D space is quite impressive. Characters are properly spaced so that they don’t simply melt into their co-stars or their environments, so that’s the perfect foundation right there. But the depth of picture beyond said characters is absolutely spectacular. The distance between Iron City and Zalam, or even Alita and the buildings and alleys she strolls about, are conveyed with clear and beautiful dimensions that draw the heights and lengths of the action involved in sharp contrast.
3D presentations like Alita: Battle Angel have a natural enemy, and its name is darkness. Putting a pair of polarized glasses on one’s face and staring at a lit screen can be a daunting task, as the maintenance of the projector being used can have an effect on how brightly the movie you’re watching is projected. Your mileage may vary depending on the theater you’re seeing the film in, but in the screening observed for this evaluation, the picture was as bright and clear as one could have hoped for. Even with the typical dimming effect of the 3D glasses, there’s no part of this film that is too dark to be seen in full clarity.
With the blur shown on the screen typically serving as a good indication of how much 3D manipulation has taken place, Alita: Battle Angel should not have as many sequences looking like a 2D presentation as this film does. And yet, there’s a liberal amount of recurring scenes that looks as if they haven’t been converted. Which is very odd, as Alita was shot in native 3D, meaning no post-conversion needed to take place. This goes beyond the standard anchor points that see characters rendered in 2D, while their background is fleshed out in full 3D – though there’s plenty of that action going on as well. It’s not a totally 2D experience though, as there’s definitely a good amount of blurring in the environments and a majority of character moments.
It’s been a while since a 3D movie triggered the old eye-strain in the way some action sequences in Alita: Battle Angel do. With elements of fast paced action that zoom across the screen, there are moments where your eyes are going to get a little confused and unfocused. This will lead to a little bit of strain, which might take you out of the action for brief moments of time. Thankfully, these moments are pretty isolated, with the rest of the film operating extremely smooth.
|3D Scores Recap|
|3D Fit Score||5|
|Planning & Effort Score||3|
|Before the Window Score||3|
|Beyond the Window Score||5|
|Glasses Off Score||3|
|Audience Health Score||4|
Alita: Battle Angel is still pretty decent in its 3D presentation. But it could have been one of the greats if some of the basics were tightened up to the standards we’d expect from both Rodriguez and Cameron’s involvement. If you’re going to see this film in 3D, it’s best to do so in a format like IMAX where the expanded picture ratio adds some large format thrills to the 3D conversion. But if you’re still interested in just a standard 3D presentation, it’s still worth the time. It’s not a must-see in 3D, but it’s nontheless pretty fun.
Be sure to visit our full To 3D Or Not To 3D Archive.