To 3D or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Onward Ticket

Barley and Ian Lightfoot dancing with pants (their father) in Onward
(Image credit: (Pixar))

After a couple years of sequels from Pixar, in 2020 the studio is coming out with two original movies. The first is Dan Scanlon’s Onward, and it’s also the first 3D release of the year. The adventure is set in a modern fantasy world where magic has been replaced with cars and electricity, but features elves, centaurs and one-eyed creatures (no, not Mike Wasowski).

Before you join the quest of elf brothers played by Tom Holland’s Ian and Chris Pratt’s Barley and their trusty van Gwenivere, it’s time to ask “To 3D, or Not To 3D?” For our thoughts of the content in the new Pixar movie, you can read our Onward review. Otherwise, stay here as we get into whether the format is worth experiencing in an extra dimension.

3D Fit Score: 4/5

Onward is a fantasy adventure that has the Lightfoot brothers coming across a ton of fun creatures such as unicorns and pixies in a suburban setting. It’s exactly the kind of movie that feels made for 3D conversion as Ian and Barley race against time to complete the 24-hour spell that will allow them to visit with their father. Although the modern setting isn’t as uniquely visual as, let’s say, Frozen II or The Lion King, to make it the ultimate 3D movie, the format does support the material extremely well and enhance the experience of the quest.

Planning & Effort Score: 4/5

The level of planning and effort that went into Onward is seamless and beautiful. The 3D format has been one of Pixar’s strong points over the years and their latest release does not diverge from their great reputation. The filmmakers clearly had the format conversion in mind when the animated movie was made. There’s some awesome sequences that take advantage of its format and immerse the viewer into the world of the movie. However, there are times when the content doesn’t feel exceptionally necessary in 3D or could have gone one step further in adding to the format’s enjoyment.

Before the Window Score: 5/5

Onward has quite a few key moments where objects feel as though they are jumping off the screen. There are quite a few car chase scenes, including one where biker pixies are popping out of the screen and being flung onto windshields. The Lightfoot brothers find themselves in a ton of sticky situations that implement the format jumping out at you especially in the third act of Onward. Audiences might find themselves more attached to the adventure with their 3D glasses on, because of how good the “before the window” is on it.

Beyond the Window Score: 4/5

Objects coming off the screen are important to the 3D experience just as much as the “beyond the window” element, which is what appears to be taking place behind the surface of the screen. Perhaps to echo the movie’s title, there’s less focus on what’s behind the characters than in front of them. It may not be quite as rich as the “before the window” element, but it still does its job to beautiful results. Oftentimes, as the brothers are in Barley’s van roadtripping there’s plenty happening behind them as their pair-of-pant father scoots around and taps his foot. The details are intricate – look out for those famed Pixar hidden easter eggs!

Brightness Score: 5/5

The brightness of your 3D conversion is often at the mercy of the specific theater you choose to view your movies on. Not every screen’s projector rig is given the same attention and results may vary. With that in mind, Onward has exceptional brightness in 3D that makes the viewer completely forget that they are wearing tinted glasses. A good third of the movie takes place in the middle of the night too, but not once does it feel like the scenes were an ounce too dark or uncomfortable to view. Onward is an exceptional 3D movie as far as brightness goes.

Glasses Off Score: 5/5

What you see on the screen when you take off your glasses is a good way to determine how much image manipulation has been implemented for the 3D. If you take your glasses off over the course of Onward, you’ll witness a ton of blurriness in the background and foreground, depending on the sequence you’re viewing. Because the movie is focused on the relationship between the Lightfoot brothers, you’ll almost always be able to follow their crisp, clear dialogues without your glasses, but you’re definitely going to want to leave them on to experience the scope of the 3D being manipulated.

Audience Health Score: 5/5

Onward makes stunning use of its 3D and still manages to be an easy and effortless watch in the format. You’ll likely forget you’re wearing the glasses or that you’re viewing it how you are, because the way it’s presented acts as a way to immerse you into the suburban fantasy world and have you leaning closer to the edge of your seat. Onward isn’t the headache-inducing type of 3D. It’s easy-on-the-eyes and still manages to pull some of the format’s best stops.


(Image credit: Disney)

Onward is A grade 3D and if you already plan to see the movie, paying a little extra for this format will enhance your experience of the film. The Pixar film in 3D allows more room to forget yourself in the fantasy setting and become more engrossed in Lightfoot brothers’ quest to briefly reunite with their father. That being said, the movie does place a larger focus on the relationship and conversations between the brothers than its action sequences and this element doesn’t need a 3D picture to be communicated.

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.