Is "Blade Runner 2049" Worth Seeing in RealD 3D?

After more than a couple weeks of being out in theaters, I was finally able to get away from family obligations and government paperwork to see "Blade Runner 2049" a second time.  While I have not written a review of the movie due to excessive writers block (as well as potentially rethinking my career as a writer), I will say that this is so far the best film I've seen this year.  It has made me think about things in ways that I never thought I would, it is smart in ways that few movies are, and it is more interesting the second time around.  Everything is beautiful to look at and the acting is appropriately subtle in what is being said with silence.  It is a modern masterpiece and the fact that no one is turning out to see it shows that people deserve the sorry state of the movie business they currently have.  If you haven't seen it yet, I think you are missing out on an experience you may potentially feel is great.

However, should you see it in IMAX 2D or RealD 3D?  That is the question I asked in a previous article, and I've been slowly answering that question throughout the month.  For someone who loves 3D so much that he'll maintain a blog about the format, it is amazing that it took me as long as it did to see it in this format.  However, the preferred viewing method for this film has been one of much speculation, and after some digging I came to the conclusion that the film makers wanted the film to be seen in 2D.  Still, I wanted to see what the 3D looked like, so I bought a ticket to a XD 3D screening late at night (with Auro 1.11 sound to boot!).  I watched the movie and soaked up the brilliant film making once more.  I also paid attention to the 3D, how it was used, and how it affected the overall experience of the movie.  And now that I've seen the movie in both IMAX 2D and RealD 3D I can safely say that the "Blade Runner 2049" in 3D experience is...ok.

Yeah, that's pretty much all I can muster for it.  It's funny to think I've been writing about this topic for months on end, decrying IMAX for not projecting it in the first place, using it as the reason they won't show 3D movies anymore, having them pretty much back off on that claim pretty quickly, and then finding out that key people who made the movie weren't that impressed with the 3D, it's frustrating because it feels like I've been doing all this complaining for virtually nothing. Because what we ultimately have is a 3D experience that does not detract from your enjoyment of the movie, but doesn't add a whole lot either.  This is especially frustrating because this has all the makings of a great 3D experience.  The kind that could have sat with "Avatar" and "Life of Pi" as being one of the best to be had yet.

There are long, slow shots.  Quick editing is nowhere to be found.  There are vast, open spaces to help 3D emphasize the space between the characters and the world.  Many scenes involve airships in the air and flying.  The pacing and sets are placed so perfectly, that there was a possibility for total emersion on the audiences end, to be literally be sucked into the world and in the middle of it all.  If ever there was a movie I look at and think "this would be SOO much better in 3D," this would be it!  It should be it.  It's not though.  The 3D experience I had with "Blade Runner 2049" was one of minor depth in the background, a few pop out effects for passing buildings, but not a whole lot else.  Even the scene where Joe talks to the prostitute hologram (as seen at the top of this article) - a scene that begs to surround the audience and suck them into the world - only sort of pops out (and certainly never surrounds you).

However, it should be noted this is an up-converted job, and those really can only go so far.  So why didn't Denis Villeneuve just film the thing in 3D?  I don't know.  Really, I don't.  The shooting style of the film goes in hand with the techniques of 3D so perfectly I find it frustrating that the director just couldn't see it.  Or maybe he did and just didn't care?  It is true that the best live action 3D experiences have come from directors who are known for being true masters of the art of cinema: Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuaron, Steven Spielberg (alright, that ones animated, but it was SHOT like a live action film), James Cameron, George Miller, and Peter Jackson have delivered the best 3D experiences by far.  I would argue that Villeneuve is in that league of directors and could have pulled it off.  Either he didn't see the potential 3D could bring to the project, or he simply didn't care to.

So, for what it's worth folks, I'm really sorry I made a bigger deal of a 3D version of "Blade Runner 2049" than I had any right to.  I got caught up in IMAX threatening (in a round about way) that 3D experiences in the theaters would be in jeopardy if this movie did well in it's 2D only release.  I got caught up in the lack of BluRay 3D releases we continue to get.  I got excited by the potential of this movie being in 3D.  Ultimately, the experience is average.  Not lukewarm enough to completely ruin the experience, but lukewarm enough that it makes wearing the glasses a royal pain to have to wear.  I hate having to admit this, but I want to be honest with my readers, and the sad reality is that "Blade Runner 2049" is not the 3D experience that was worth dying on a mountain for.  The other sad reality is that is very well could have been, which may be more frustrating than the 3D simply not being very good.


  1. MaxFromQuebec said...:

    Keep in mind, whatever IMAX is showing on their screens is what the director wants you to see. If a film comes out in regular 3D, but only in IMAX 2D, that means it was a decision made purposely by the director and IMAX. For example, Justice League will only be released in IMAX 2D because it was shot on film, and does not look good in IMAX 3D. The version the director wants you to see is always IMAX!

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