Should You See "Aladdin" in RealD 3D or IMAX 2D

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We need to get the obvious out of the way first: Disney's "Aladdin" IS showing in IMAX 3D in some cities!  We need to state this upfront because for the sake of this argument, that would normally be in play for this discussion.  The problem is that IMAX is being really stingy with how many 3D screenings of the film they provide.  Most theaters only have one showing and that one showing is typically early in the day, long before most people get out of work and school on the weekdays.  Since the weekend and Memorial Day has passed, there is virtually no guarantee of hard working Americans being available to see this screening (and there is an even greater chance the 3D screenings will be dropped altogether for the second week).  For all intents and purposes, the IMAX 3D version is effectively off the table for anyone who doesn't want to call out sick sometime this week.  That means we must look critically to see if the 3D effects in "Aladdin" are worth giving up giant screen experience.

For what it's worth, I don't think "Aladdin" is a movie worth seeing in the first place.  I wrote a review on it, but the long and short of it is that this is a movie that is a pale imitation of the original, doesn't add anything truly great to what was already there, and that you will have an equal (and outright better experience) if you stayed home and rewatched your BluRay of the original.  Let's say you do want to subject yourself to Will Smith's blue Genie though (who - in all fairness - was the best thing about this remake), it's good to know that while the movie wasn't filmed in 3D, director Guy Ritchie was aware it was going to be projected in 3D.  Therefor there are MANY shots that take advantage of the third dimension!  The opening shot alone makes a strong case for seeing the film in 3D, as the camera pans over the water, the credits turn to dust, and the scene ends with the viewer going in and through the citizens of Agrabah.  For some time after the movie doesn't make much use of 3D until we get to the "Friend Like Me" musical number (the other highlight of this film), in which 3D highlights the sheer insanity of the sequence much better than 2D does.

Ironically, this is where the 3D starts to cool a bit.  The "Prince Ali" number is rather flat in how musical numbers should be, so there's not much of a draw there (although the ostriches and confetti coming at the audience was sort of cool).  You would think "A Whole New World" would benefit from 3D (since the characters are flying on a magic carpet and all that), but the scene is oddly still and quiet, so the effects aren't put to much use.  I'm sorry to say this version of the movie does NOT have a sequence where Aladdin fights a giant snake, but Jafar still turns into a red genie, so that's kind of neat!  Otherwise, the movie is fairly pedestrian.  Ritchie does include some slow motion shots that highlight the 3D aspects, however those sequences are fairly brief and few and far between.  So what do I ultimately think?  Well, if IMAX 3D IS an option (and you insist on seeing this movie) I would go with that!  If it's not, the ideal middle ground might be Cinemark XD 3D or AMC Prime 3D.  They aren't as big as IMAX screens, but they are of pretty decent size, so it would be a suitable compromise.

If you have to choose between the two, I would lean towards the 3D version, but only slightly (and not enough to recommend you go out of your way to a theater that isn't close by).  In the case of "Aladdin" there is a lot of reason to recommend the 3D version, but not enough to completely shun the IMAX release.  This is one of those experiences that toe the line on whether or not the 3D is integral to the movie.  On that level it probably isn't, however the few scenes where it is used cleverly is enough to give it the edge that the 3D version is likely the one you'll want to see.


James Cameron Finds Perfect Way to Release "Alita: Battle Angle" on BluRay 3D

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It can't be easy for fans of "Alita: Battle Angle" right now.  On one hand, the movie fared much better at the box office than many were expecting it to.  Instead of outright flopping, the movie more or less broke even, paving the way for a potential sequel to move forward.  On the other hand, this happened during the Disney/Fox buyout, which means it won't be up to Fox to greenlight another sequel, but Disney, a company who has more than enough billion dollar franchises, and might not be interested in trying to nurture one that they didn't personally have a hand in.  What was equally stressful for fans was the MIA BluRay release, which (by many accounts) should have been out now.  We were in a situation where we were wondering if we would get the movie on disk at all, much less the 3D version that James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez had carefully crafted (which resulted in a spike in 3D ticket sales for the first time in years).  After all, if Disney seemed apathetic to a sequel to 'Alita' we KNEW they were apathetic to releasing a BluRay 3D of the film.  BluRay 3D's is a market Disney has pretty much gotten out of both in the states AND internationally (with the exception of the Marvel and Star Wars movies)!

So imagine my surprise and delight when we not only got a date for 'Alita' on BluRay, but that we found out the 3D version WOULD be getting released as well!  What's more, it looks like it will be in every store across the nation for as long as need be, because the disk is being bundled with the 4K UltraHD bundle, which means supplies will be plentiful!

Now, the funny thing is, this isn't the first time this has happened.  Early into the UltraHD lifespan, Sony was particularly aggressive about bundling 3D disks with 4K copies at stores.  Sony was still making 3D TV's and wanted to keep the momentum alive.  It made more sense because the UltraHD bundles were for hardcore film fans who were willing to pay a premium for the best versions of the movie available.  Eventually Sony and other companies dropped this, and to this day the few companies that still make 3D disks have opted to make limited quantity BluRay 3D bundles rather than put the 3D disk in the UltraHD package, which would make more sense it would be a product that caters to two niche markets for a minimal extra cost.  Chances are 'Alita' was a compromise as both Cameron and Rodriguez have stressed that the 3D version is THE way to see the movie, and likely demanded such a release in their contracts!  As a compromise, Disney is putting the disk in the UltraHD bundle.  The funny thing is, this is how they should be doing this for ALL movies!  Sure, it would only add a few hundred thousand extra sales, but since Warner Bros. and Paramount are still doing this, it is clearly a profitable practice.

By bundling the movies this way they can make both versions available to everyone who wants them, it provides more value for the dollar, and it makes the film makers happy.  Heck, when you look at the cover the 3D version is highlighted as the main selling point, so Cameron is VERY well aware of who's REALLY going to be buying this disk!  While it is sad this isn't a normal practice for all studios, we are at a point where I'm happy that it is happening at all.  Also, it's nice that IMAX is setting aside a few showtimes each week to show "Aladdin" in IMAX 3D, so the fact that companies are doing anything with 3D shows that it still is a profitable format.  Either way, I'm going to be buying a couple copies of this movie: One for me and one as a gift.  I want to support this release financially, and I would love to see a sequel, so buying this set supports both.  It's something I highly recommend everyone do if they love this (surprisingly fun) little $180 million dollar blockbuster.