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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The best-sounding 3D movie of the year, and the rest

Last year, the horrible 3-D effects of Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender made bad movies that much worse, yet the trend has yet to peak. One of 2011's few films that sounds improved by 3-D is Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary from Werner Herzog. The famously moody German director applies his fascination with nonfiction nature films (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World) to the Chauvet Cave in Southern France, which contains the world's oldest known cave paintings, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic Period. Access to the cave is highly restricted, so the 3-D should literally make the experience the next best thing to being there. Cave of Forgotten Dreams's limited U.S. release begins April 29, with its Atlanta release still to be announced.

But which of this summer's "movie movies" at the cineplex may be potentially ruined by 3-D?

Here are the films to be released in three dimensions (in order of release): Thor, Priest, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, Green Lantern, Cars 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Smurfs, Final Destination 5, Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World.

Films that will not be in 3-D, but sound like they could easily have been, are: X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Cowboys & Aliens, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Now I haven't seen any of these, but offer this rule of thumb: with notable exceptions like Avatar, films that have lots of busy, quickly-edited action scenes and special effects suffer in 3-D. And films with many night-time, outer space or otherwise dark sequences look even more dim through the 3-D glasses, although the effect isn't so pronounced on an IMAX screen. Sight unseen, I'd be a little leery of seeing Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Green Lantern and Transformers in 3-D (although director Michael Bay claims that the 3-D cameras will restrict the third Transformers movie from being as busy and head-achey as the last one.) So you may want to save your money for the regular 2-D exhibition, unless you hear otherwise.

Computer animated family films like Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 should like fine either way.

By the way, you may recall that Deathly Hallows Part 1 was not in 3-D. Apparently director David Yates and Warner Brothers determined that they didn't have time to do a good 3-D "post-conversion" last year, but are releasing the new one in all three dimensions. Uh-oh.

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