To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right The Secret Life Of Pets 2 Ticket

Max wearing the cone of shame in The Secret Life of Pets 2

Illumination Entertainment has found tremendous box office success with its Despicable Me and Minions films, and three years ago it struck gold with another movie with major franchise potential. That movie was The Secret Life of Pets, which told the story of a Jack Russell Terrier named Max and what our pets do when we aren’t at home. Now the next entry in that series arrives with this weekend’s The Secret Life of Pets 2.

If you want to know about the quality of the film itself, check out our official review. This is to let you know what ticket to buy and if it’s worth the extra cheddar to see the adventures of these furry friends brought to life in 3D. The first film was a solid 3D performer, so how does the sequel stack up? Read on to find out what ticket you should buy for The Secret Life of Pets 2.

As a medium, animated kids movies are well suited to 3D presentations. They feature brightly colored characters and environments, and the computer-generated imagery makes for more effective and seamless 3D than live-action conversions with computer-created special effects. This film, which features lots of different animals in action scenes in different locations, offers plenty of opportunities for 3D. While I wouldn’t necessarily say that The Secret Life of Pets 2 had to be available in 3D (very few films do), it fits the format perfectly.

Sometimes when you watch a 3D movie, it feels almost like there is a blanket effect of 3D applied to the entire film versus a careful application scene by scene. The Secret Life of Pets 2 falls into the latter category. There are quite a few sequences throughout the film where the filmmakers pretty clearly knew they would be taking advantage of 3D technology. Those sequences make excellent use of the technology and it shows that there was thought given to how to incorporate the extra dimension. There are nits to pick where the film could have gotten even more creative with the use of 3D, but overall it was a very good effort.

I was expecting a kids movie like The Secret Life of Pets 2 to be constantly going for popping-off-the-screen effects, but the 3D was used more sparingly and to great effect. Although it doesn't happen perhaps quite as often as some younger viewers might like, there are some great instances of things coming off the screen. There are several chases in the film that really deliver on this front, and even outside of the action there is a good amount of foreground protrusion off the screen. There is also one scene in particular with Kevin Hart’s Snowball where the animation style changes and that is perhaps the best 3D in the film. It does a great job at really giving the audience that 3D effect.

The one thing that struck me is how much depth there was to the image throughout the movie. Even when the foreground elements weren’t explicitly popping off the screen, there was that consistent depth. That said, a lot of the deepest backgrounds weren't razor sharp. I generally interpreted it as the film making the artistic choice to generally have a shallower depth of field and not poor implementation of the 3D technology. Still, mixing that up a bit more would have been nice. The cityscapes and wide-open landscape of the farm Max goes to all looked really good though.

Whereas live-action 3D movies often struggle in the brightness department, their animated counterparts usually fare much better, and that holds true with The Secret Life of Pets 2. This is a brightly colored movie and the image is bright throughout. Even in the darker scenes, you never have to struggle to see the things you need to see. The only reason this movie doesn’t get top marks in this area is because while the image was bright enough to see, I couldn’t help but feel like it could have used just a little more punch. Maybe if a premium format presentation was available that could have been delivered. As always, this category could vary greatly between theaters and auditoriums.

If at any point you decide to take your 3D glasses off during The Secret Life of Pets 2, you’re going to see the blur that indicates the 3D effect that is being applied to the image. As you saw in the Before and Beyond the Window scores, this sequel has a healthy amount of 3D, and thus a lot of blur if you take your glasses off. There were a few instances where the foreground pets were fairly clear and looked 2D sans glasses with only the backgrounds being blurred, but not really enough to knock down the score. By and large, if you take your glasses off during the movie, the image you see is going to be pretty darn blurry and not really enjoyable to watch with your naked eye.

The brightness of the image meant that there was no need to strain your eyes to see things with the added dimming effect of the 3D glasses. And while how a person reacts to 3D will be different individual to individual, I see no reason why anyone should suffer any sort of nausea from the extra dimension. The only real ding here is that the image occasionally gets a little blurry during some of the fast moving scenes where you lose the 3D, and the result is that your eyes may experience some mild strain by the end of the film.

Overall, The Secret Life of Pets 2 was an enjoyable 3D experience and pretty much what you would hope for from an animated kids movie. It isn’t a flawless presentation, but it gives you way more 3D for your dollar than a lot of the other movies out there, with plenty of before and beyond the window effects. It also manages good brightness even in a non-premium format presentation. I imagine if you’re going with kids, they’ll get a kick out of the 3D experience, and a 3D ticket is probably worth the extra scratch if you’re interested.

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Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.