The MCU is out in force this weekend, as Loki’s Season 2 finale and The Marvels give fans two different ways to celebrate this comic-based juggernaut. While Tom Hiddleston’s big moment is available to those at home with a Disney+ subscription, the trio of Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani are pushing boundaries in a theater near you.
And with that comes an opportunity to ask one of our favorite questions: To 3D or Not To 3D? If you’re curious about how this picture works as a narrative experience, our own Eric Eisenberg has you covered with his The Marvels review proper.
However, if you’re looking to determine whether this adventure is worth the extra ticket money, or if you should use those hard earned dollars towards the adoption fee for a Flerkitten, this is the place to be. So let's get a good look at the 3D behind The Marvels, and see what stands out!
Fit Score - 3/5
It’s hard to turn away an upcoming Marvel movie when it comes to 3D conversion efforts. Disney at large seems to be one of the last steady practitioners of third-dimensional presentations, which leads to, in the best case, results like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s (inter)stellar 3D presentation,. That said, I don’t think The Marvels is a slam dunk fit for the 3D format.
While we’ve seen other movies use this premium experience to create surprisingly effective and intimate stories, director Nia DeCosta’s entry into Marvel canon could have gone either way. While there was potential for the powers and action on display in the trailers to wow the crowd, it doesn’t end up shining through the entire picture’s execution.
Planning & Effort - 3/5
Per what seems to be the industry standard, The Marvels is a post-conversion 3D product, as the film was not shot in native 3D. It’s a rarity to find a movie that’s shot in that method, and the difference shows when you compare a picture like this to something like Avatar: The Way of Water’s native 3D product. It'd be nice to see that sort of boom taking place again, but for now, post-conversion is the ruler of the land.
The conversion efforts of SDFX Studios and Seecubic are admirable, and the work shows by overcoming some of the most common stumbling blocks of 3D films. But for the impressive work with Brightness and the overall smooth work The Marvels shows off, it loses points in some of the more spectacle driven portions of this evaluation.
Before The Window - 2/5
There’s only one real factor that stands out in the Before the Window factor in The Marvels’ 3D presentation: Flerkittens. The tentacles of mother cat Goose and her little Flerkittens are the one visual element that really takes advantage of throwing things into the audience.
One of the bright spots of this story’s course of events is an extended sequence where Flerkens are an important plot device, leading to a lot of family-friendly tentacle action. I guess this is part of how Goose got her own poster for The Marvels, as the marketing campaign seemed to lean on the Flerken and her Flerkittens for plot-related reasons.
However, having a Flerkitten literally eating the camera doesn’t cover up the fact that The Marvels doesn’t do much else to dazzle in this respect. This is even more upsetting when taking into account how impressive the MCU trio's powers are and how much they could pop in proper 3D.
Beyond The Window - 3/5
Things don’t get too much brighter for the Beyond the Window factor of The Marvels. Make no mistake, there’s a decent amount of dimension-breaching, power-wielding action in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe romp. It’s just that the visual canvas of 3D isn’t used to its full potential to enhance those pieces of the film.
There’s clear and crisp spatial reasoning at work that separates the characters from their backgrounds, and each other, so it’s not like things are totally flat. What stands out here though is a severely selective usage of the type of immersion that’s offered when drawing seemingly unlimited depth in the best usages of this format.
When there is an effort to really showcase such lush backgrounds, it does result in some of the better visual pops in the film. It's inconsistent and frustrating when trying to lose yourself in the 3D picture.
Brightness Score - 5/5
You’d think that the Brightness factor would be an easy space for picking off some points, as this is a traditional arch-nemesis to the 3D experience. Prepare to be surprised, as I’m here to tell you that The Marvels actually excels in this field, as it’s pretty bright and clear as a bell.
Even when comparing the full brightness of the picture being projected to the glasses-on experience, the natural dimming doesn’t wash the picture in greyness. Of course, your mileage may still vary, as theaters vary in how they maintain their projectors.
Glasses Off Score - 3/5
There is a lot of variation when it comes to the Glasses Off experience of The Marvels, and you’re definitely going to be tempted to check it out for yourself. That’s just a natural effect of the 3D ecosystem, as even the best experience will still leave you with moments where you want to peek out from behind your glasses.
Were you do that with The Marvels, you’d see some moments of intense blur, particularly with wide shots on the various planets. Meanwhile, there are also some close-up moments that naturally leave a more 2D looking anchor more towards the center of frame to show off the rest of the 3D blur.
Typically, the more blur there is, the more image manipulation there is at work to create the 3D effect. So the varied blur of The Marvels' picture seems to be the source of its inconsistent Before/Beyond The Window factor.
Audience Health - 5/5
The overall audience health factor to The Marvels is also something to celebrate. Action adventures that feature a lot of kinetic motion such as this tend to have moments here and there where the picture wonks out. That isn't the case with what's shown here.
To its credit, The Marvels' battle scenes don't go overboard with any sort of shaky cam., nor do they fly with cuts so rapid it might disrupt the 3D effect, as we saw most recently with The Little Mermaid's 3D rendition of "Under The Sea." So if you're even the slightest bit prone to nausea in 3D, you're in good hands.
Final Verdict: 24/35
Even with the power sets of Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and Captain Monica Rambeau being impressive feats that seem cut out for 3D, The Marvels falls short of being an enthusiastically endorsed experience. It's especially a bummer in light of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being as fantastic as it was in this format, as Marvel Studios seems to be consistently inconsistent with how it handles this premium format.
Alas, if you're a 3D fanatic like I am, I suggest you potentially seek out the ever-rare IMAX 3D showtime. That provider's 3D conversions still seem to present a gold standard, as exhibited in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts' 3D presentation. At the very least, see this one at a theater you know you can trust with your 3D needs. With that, we're officially wrapped on this installment of To 3D or Not To 3D!
Please remember to recycle your glasses and wrappers on the way out of the auditorium, and if you haven't already, check out our rundown of The Marvels' ending. There's some pretty wild stuff to discuss as we wait on the future of the MCU, as well as our next 3D evaluation.