Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Best 3D Movies

Martin Scorsese has directed Hugo in 3-D (3D), so does that mean the technique will get respect from serious filmmakers? Will there be an Academy Award for Best Picture for a movie that was filmed in 3D in the future? Hard to say since a writer at Slate thinks 3-D is on the way out.

Yeah, I've complained about 3D movies as being too dark. But it's an interesting day in the history of film when you have a great and serious artist such as Martin Scorsese direct a movie in the medium of 3-D. So let's see if we can dig up the ten best 3-D movies for the last ten years. Note that there are no true conversions, i.e. movies filmed in 2D but converted to 3-D. That's because those movies are too dark since the director prepared his movie in 2D lighting without making up for the polarization. Also the effects suffer. In essence conversions stink. Also note that I like movies that really use the medium even if that means the director throws things at you. Use it or lose it. So let's countdown to the best 3D film.

10. Up (2009) A great CGI animated Pixar film without the 3-D. It only enhances the best movie of 2009.

9. Ghosts of the Abyss (2003) James Cameron in this documentary explores the real life Titanic, the subject of his 1998 blockbuster. It's a captivating look at the ship in IMAX 3D.

8. Aliens of the Deep (2005) Director James Cameron in this documentary explores the deep ocean and films some strange creatures for IMAX 3D. A precursor to Avatar.

7. Beowulf (2007) After directing The Polar Express (2004) Robert Zemeckis made this CGI animated film of the old English epic poem. Best use of motion capture so far.

6. Tron: Legacy (2010) In IMAX 3D, the medium added to the coolness of the film.

5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) This bad movie is actually made better by the 3D. Add to that, it's a hybrid, i.e. part of it was filmed in 3D. Anyway the 3D effects were spectacular. It makes me wonder if they're considering filming the next Star Trek in 3D and what it will look like.

4. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) I was watching this movie the other day. What I find impressive is that director Eric Brevig skillfully stages almost every shot for the medium. For example, you'll notice he has the actors not standing next to each other but most of the time they're staggered. That enhances the 3D effect. Of course, there are many money shots where things are thrown at you and where it emphasizes depth.

3. Despicable Me (2010) A delightful CGI animated family comedy. With a wink of an eye, the movie pushes the 3D to absurd proportions. That makes it a lot of fun.

2. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) From the hair on the fur of the Vikings to the exciting flying sequences, this CGI animated feature is a beautiful in 3D. It's also a great movie.

1. Avatar (2009) The film that launched the craze. The move takes off when Jake undergoes his training with the Na'vi. Great sequences feature dragon flying, alien plant life and the final battle with the humans. The mixture between live action and CGI is seamless. It's Cameron's crowing achievement for his work in 3-D. If you get a chance, see this movie in IMAX 3D.

Addendum. With the release of Hugo, there's a new 3-D movie champ. Check out the revised list.

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