The Definitive 3D Blu Ray List is intended to tell people about the very best and worst 3D titles available to buy.
There have been countless arguments about what makes great 3D, for me it has to have both depth into the screen and depth out of the screen, one without the other makes no sense to me and i believe that 3D is not being used to it's fullest when filmmakers only utilize depth, we can call this positive and negative parallax or we can simply call it depth and popout.
You will find many reviews online that mention crosstalk or ghosting in some 3D titles, this is incorrect, there is zero ghosting on these titles, the display being used is the issue, in particular the refresh rate of the display, i use a DLP projector and triple flash aka 144hz glasses to view 3D content, there is no crosstalk whatsoever with all the problem titles listed at various review sites, nothing but glorious 3D.
I view at 92 inches on a projection screen and i have calibrated for 3D viewing, it is very time consuming to calibrate 3D, you have to literally tape your 3D glasses to a specialist meter on a tripod and then using Chromapure software you adjust greyscale and gamma and red, green,blue, yellow, cyan and magenta colours using the advanced colour management controls of your display until everything is spot on, this cannot be done accurately by eye alone, screen calibration is an important part of the viewing experience.
I have been very disappointed with a lot of Hollywood productions that use depth only, i think they are killing the 3D format by doing this, they are short changing the public who want to see fantastic 3D and it doesn't help when poor reviewers give such high marks to these titles and call popout a gimmick, popout is not a gimmick, when used correctly it enhances the film, how hard can it be for a filmmaker, planning in advance, to incorporate it in their film as part of the storytelling process, it just takes a little imagination.
Many films have been converted to 3D that are not suitable, they should remain 2D, not every film needs to be seen in 3D and i think this is done simply to sell tickets at a higher price.
I will now post a list of titles and give my reasons for including them on this list, the list will be updated on a regular basis and i will split it into animation, live action and disappointing titles, some are great movies, some are good, some are bad, your enjoyment may vary, you should note that some of these titles work better via projection than a television display, the list will be updated with images at a later date.
Animated 3D Titles
A Turtles Tale.
Absolutely stunning use of 3D, this title is an animated film with great depth and popout throughout, various scenes worth mentioning include the opening minutes where seagulls fly in and out of your screen, two turtles having a conversation at sea, they sit on a log and are a foot or so from your face while having this conversation, a crab snaps it's pincers straight in your face, a snake slithers right out of the screen, it's endless and simply fantasic use of 3D, it's also suitable for the whole family to enjoy. The only negative i can add is that the transfer to blu ray has banding in it which can be distracting at times, other than that it's all excellent.
Thunder and The House Of Magic aka The House Of Magic.
From the makers of A Turtles Tale, this one features a cat called Thunder who is thrown out by his owners and goes to live in a new house said to be haunted, the 3D on this one is exceptional, some of my favourite scenes include the first perspective shots taken from the cats viewpoint, a scene involving removal men and a wrecking ball that smashes into the house and shards of wood flying out of the screen at you in all directions, that is one of the most effective 3D shots i have ever seen.
A Dreamworks animated title that uses the 3D format for fun, depth is plentiful and popout is used to great effect from the start of the film to the final closing moments and everything inbetween, snouts stick out of the screen, characters fly out at you, sometimes it's subtle but it's well done, a very enjoyable movie with fun 3D.
I was surprised by this one, i didn't expect it to be so good, it makes great use of both depth and popout, the highlight for me is the scene where the dam bursts and countless objects are floating into your room, the 3D in this animated title enhances it and i heartily recommend it.
Monsters Vs Aliens.
Featuring the voice of one of my favourite actresses, Reese Witherspoon, this is another quality Dreamworks 3D production, lots of depth, lots of popout, some early displays were plagued by crosstalk/ghosting, i can tell you that my DLP projector shows absolutely zero issues with this title, it's perfect, stay until the closing titles for a really nice 3D popout moment.
Rise Of The Guardians.
Another great Dreamworks 3D animated film, you can't go wrong with a film that teams up Jack Frost with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the animation is of the highest quality and the 3D is very good, very impressive and the 7.1 sound mix is immersive with every speaker getting a workout.
Much maligned 3D title because on first and second generation displays there was too much visible crosstalk, on a DLP display it is perfect, no crosstalk whatsoever, just pure and perfect 3D, this one looks very nice, good depth, some good popout especially during the final part of the movie, stay till the end of the credits as you get the very best popout moment, the film has some funny moments too, the sky is falling and it's all good.
How To Train Your Dragon.
A superb film which is very entertaining, it has a great soundtrack which has been effectively mixed for 7.1 surround sound, a lot of depth and a few moments of popout, it's the story and script which really brings alive this exciting tale, this is another quality 3D animated film from Dreamworks.
Only available from Europe, this film features some wonderful atmosphere, it's a dark, gritty tale, not suitable for the very young, the 3D is very good, nice depth, some good popout moments and a solid audio mix. The 3D edition is the theatrical cut, the longer unrated cut is only available in 2D.
Live Action 3D Titles
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
An entertaining film set around the notion that Hansel and Gretel grew up and became witch hunters, i really enjoyed this film. Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen star. The film has two versions, the theatrical cut and the unrated longer version which runs approx 10 minutes more, unfortunately once again the studio's let us down and the theatrical cut is the only version we can watch in 3D. The film has superb 3D, one of the best i have seen, lots of good depth, fantastic pop out moments, flaming arrows coming right at your head, exploding houses have shards of wood coming all the way out of the screen, a troll smashes some trees up, lots of excellent major league pop out, one of the best 3D titles you can buy.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet.
Superbly directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and also superb acting from the entire cast, this movie was shot using native 3D cameras, the 3D cinematography by Thomas Hardmeier is fabulous, this is a very good example of how you should make a 3D film, they obviously planned in advance just how they were going to fully utilize 3D in the production and then storyboarded it all, lots of depth AND, lots of good popout moments which are not mere gimmicks but work well as part of the storyline, it's a 2.40:1 production and the detail on display is immaculate, the beautiful landscapes look great in 3D, i bought the French edition, it has a 5.1 lossless English language soundtrack and it's a first rate blu ray, i think this is one of the best live action 3D titles you can buy.
This one is a converted 3D title, a loose remake of the seventies horror film, it features loads of sex and gore and throws effective 3D into the mix, oh and a superb 5.1 sound mix, the underwater scenes have a lot of depth, one scene in particular has Riley Steele and British model Kelly Brook doing nude underwater ballet to the tune of Madame Butterfly, the depth in that scene is endless, you also get some piranha fish flying out of the screen at you, it's all highly effective and i enjoyed it a lot.
Another conversion although this one has numerous CGI scenes which were native 3D, the film features a fantastic sound mix but for some reason Warner opted to only put a 5.1 lossless track on the disc, i expected at least 7.1, the 3D in Gravity is good, a lot of depth, some popout, just one criticism, they could have played it less safe and had more popout, nevertheless it's a great movie with Sandra Bullock acting her socks off.
Journey To The Center Of The Earth.
I consider this one of the best 3D live action titles, in fact it would be much less enjoyable in 2D, from the very opening moments you have some sort of bug poking you in the eyes with it's antennae, a rafts sails fly into your room when they are opened, prehistoric piranha fish are batted into your room, a mineshaft cars cable catapults towards your head and you duck, a phone floats into your living room and it's all highly effective, the depth is every bit as good as the popout moments.
House Of Wax.
Tremendous use of depth, indeed the 3D depth in this title is far superior to just about all the modern live action titles i can think of, you also get the ping pong balls sequence, an effective 3D popout moment although it goes on too long, for me the best scene is the bit where Charles Bronson, known here as Charles Buchinsky, jumps into the screen, it's like he has been sitting with you, a quick but very effective scene that shows more imagination in it's use of 3D than countless modern Hollywood flicks.
Life Of Pi.
Good use of 3D, it's mostly depth but you do get some popout too during the opening titles and a there is a nice moment during a storm at sea where the aspect ratio changes and fish can be seen spilling over into the black bar area, that's an effective moment, there is some great cinematography in this film.
Walking With Dinosaurs.
I watched the cretaceous cut of the film, it's shorter but you do not have the annoying juvenile script to contend with, it's far more entertaining than what was seen in the cinema. This film has some very good 3D, i thought depth was excellent, the movie also had some good pop out moments, i would have liked a bit more pop out but considering some films have none i consider this title worthy of my list.
Disappointing 3D Titles
Captain America – The First Avenger.
I wish i had watched this one in 2D, i felt the depth was mostly poor, with just a few scenes showing good use of 3D and, the big popout scene involving Captain America's shield coming out of the screen was very mild, it barely came out, this will teach me to take what reviewers and people say with a pinch of salt, not a very good 3D conversion of what is a pretty good movie, stick to 2D with this one.
I viewed the UK blu ray edition of this film, i felt the brightness was off, way too bright, some banding was visible, i lowered the brightness to fix this issue, you should not have to do that but obviously this does not improve the filmmakers use of 3D, i felt depth was lacking and popout was limited, the script itself was also uninvolving, you can pick this one up cheap but the use of 3D is poor and i do not recommend it.
Saw VII The Final Chapter.
I thought the depth on this final film in the franchise to be poor, it didn't have any popout worth talking about and overall the 3D was hardly used, for a horror film series such as this it's a wasted opportunity.
The Green Hornet.
I liked the film, call me easy, what i did not like was the use of 3D, it all felt very flat, not much depth to any of it, pop out was limited to one scene and very minor league too, it hardly came out of the screen, indeed the end titles was the best use of 3D but that just shows how they didn't make an effort for the actual film, i would recommend watching this one in 2D.