Monday, April 4, 2016

The LASER Sharp 3D of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"


Last weekend "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" managed to get toxic reviews yet easily claim the number one spot for the weekend.  With a $170 million opening, an extended universe starter had just been unleashed upon the world.  Like "Zootopia" a lot of the business was helped by 3D and IMAX screenings (85% of movie theaters showed the film on screens that required glasses).  The second weekend the movie was dropped like a bad habit (by about 68% some reports suggest).  I saw it last weekend and joined most of the world in hating it.  Frustratingly, I hated not because it was consistently terrible, but because it was really good before the extended universe selling came into the picture.  This is a drop so deep that it puts the future of this franchise into question.  Yes, the studio can afford to take a critical hit, but if those numbers hold up, then long term Warner Bros. could have a real disaster on their hands.  It seams the lessons of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" weren't learned: Audiences don't want to buy tickets to commercials for future products, they just want a ticket to THIS product!

I could repeat my opinions of the film all I want, but I already wrote a review for it and it would be more constructive of my time if you were to just read that.  I'm not even going to discuss the success (or lack therefor) of the film itself much.  Yes I opened with it because I couldn't resist the urge, but I really want to discuss the format I saw the movie in.  See, I saw "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in the famous TCL Chinese Theater!  A couple of years ago they replaced their really big screen and put in a really big IMAX.  Since that upgrade it became home to the first ever IMAX 4K Laser projection. Despite using lots of gadgets in my everyday life, I'm not always sure what new type of cameras and projectors are on the market or what they intend to do.  This new stuff always promises to "make images more detailed," but sometimes in practice I can't see what the heck the companies are talking about.

Dolby Vision may have been designed to bring out contrast in the image better than it ever had been before, but all I see when I watch a movie in that format is a brighter image.  High Frame Rate may have been invented to make movies look more realistic, but the effect just comes off an uncanny.  When I watched "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in 4K Laser projection I have to admit that I was pretty impressed.  Not because it made the image clearer (I believe we're at a point where images can't get clearer than they already are), but because it made the images on the screen smoother.  More specifically, it made the 3D run smoother than I had ever seen it before without compromising the image.  Before this the smoothest 3D I had seen was with Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.  While I was very critical in my views of the 48 HFR filming, I did have to admit that those extra frames did make the 3D images much easier on the eyes.

The thing about 3D is that is can be a strain to watch sometimes.  Doctors recommend not to watch it all the time because your eyes and brain are constantly working to make out the double images and turn them into a fully working experience.  While it never really bothered me before, I noticed pretty quickly that the Hobbit movies were much easier on the eyes.  I was partially happy with that effect.  What's the point of gaining a better viewing experience though when the rest of the image looks like YouTube garbage?  It was a step in the wrong direction (I don't want to have the movies look worse just so 3D is less stressful... I don't like the format THAT much).  With the 4K Laser projector though, I think we might have found the best solution for this problem thus far.  While I wasn't completely thrilled with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" as a movie, I did notice that the 3D was excellent.

It's some of the best 3D I've seen, and during the (admittingly overblown) action sequences, the camera angle's, editing, and sweeping images were all complimented by the 3D in ways I haven't experienced in an action movie since "Mad Max: Fury Road" ("The Walk" doesn't count because that films use of 3D is very different in nature).  Action movies are extremely difficult to make good 3D films out of, because their very nature and the way most of them are made clash with what makes 3D really work sometimes.  3D needs long shots, steady pacing, and an image that is content to sway rather than jerk around.  Most action films, in contrast, have short shots, quick editing, and cameras that shake all over the place.  It makes the 3D blur up and jerk around.  In cases like "Noah" the resulting effect was such a visual disaster we didn't even get it in the states.  What's interesting with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is that the way the movie is shot suggests that the 3D should have been a complete disaster.

Zach Snyder is not a subtle director.  In fact, dare I saw it, I don't think he even knows HOW to direct sometimes!  With the exception of "300" and "Watchmen," his movies are so frantically paced that there is almost no room to breath.  "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" does have lots of breathing room early on, but once the fighting begins it brings up the same problems "Sucker Punch" had.  This kind of film making does not lend itself well to 3D.  Yet on an IMAX 4K Laser projection system, the 3D looking beautiful and the image was sharp.  I will be seeing the film again in a standard IMAX 3D to see if the image still holds up, but if it doesn't, then that means laser projection could be the first step in eliminating what many people dub "the 3D headaches" altogether.  It's just a shame I had to discover this through THIS film!

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