2D, 3D, IMAX or IMAX 3D? A quick comparison test using Avengers Assemble and a re-review of the Odeon Gallery

Avengers Assemble

So, as has been pointed out elsewhere, Avengers Assemble is quite good. So quite good is it, in fact, that my wife and various members of her/our family have gone to see it maybe one or two more times since. However, just for laughs, we’ve gone to see it in a different format each time.

So the first time we went we saw it in 2D. Then we saw it in 3D. Then we saw it in IMAX 3D. Handily, this gives us a quick, empirical chance to rate these formats in terms of quality since we can control for other variables such as post-production process, etc, thus settling an age-old* debate.

The results were

  1. IMAX 2D
    I’ll explain why in a moment, even though we didn’t go to see it in this format
  2. IMAX 3D
    Shock, horror, it beat 2D. I think to a certain extent that’s because it was IMAX rather than because it was 3D. The picture quality was much clearer, even though all screenings were digital rather than film, and it generally felt a more immersive experience. The 3D was also better than standard 3D, since it felt a little more seamless and not quite so ViewMaster-ish, and it didn’t give headaches, etc.
  3. 2D
    No distracting 3D glasses to wear or effects to take you out of the action. Just a proper movie.
  4. 3D
    Although there were points that quite clearly benefitted from 3D because they’d been shot with 3D in mind (few of them live action), the overall reduced colour and darkness of 3D and its slight headache-inducing qualities detracted to a far greater extent than the 3D added anything.

So there you go. IMAX best – go see a movie in IMAX by preference, whether it’s 2D or 3D. If you can’t see it in IMAX, go see it in 2D by preference. Indeed, if you have a choice, always see a film in 2D rather than the 3D version.

In 3D’s defence though, I will say that it’s probably wrong to think of it as an addition to a movie – it’s more a different beast, like a fairground ride: an experience rather than a story-telling mechanism. You get drawn out of the narrative whenever there is 3D and are reminded that it’s a movie, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you get spectacle as well. It’s just worth remembering that if you actually want to watch a general purpose movie that tries to tell a story, unless it’s something special like Hugo where 3D is part of the story itself, don’t see the movie in 3D if you can avoid it.

The Odeon Gallery

Odeon Gallery: It’s better than it used to be
Incidentally, we saw the IMAX 3D version at the Odeon Greenwich, which has just refurbished its Gallery (see above). If you remember, I slated the Gallery six years ago when the cinema had just changed hands from being a UCI Filmworks to being an Odeon.

Six years on and the prices have gone up from £18 to £25, but they’ve changed the rules a little to be more accommodating than they used to be. We were allowed to go into the Gallery a whole hour before the movie started and rather than having all the nachos sitting around getting slowly softer and more inedible, you now ask the staff for nachos and they bring you new ones fresh from a bag. Soft drinks are now in bottles, rather than from a soda stream machine, so they taste the way they’re supposed to. Popcorn is now stored in a warmer cabinet (the opposite of a chiller cabinet) and is tasty – eat as much as you like before the movie but not during, please.

Still not absolutely sure it’s worth £25, but when the Odeon Premier seats are sold out and if there’s a group of you, it’s a definite consideration. Oh, and it’s quite nice, quiet, and slightly funky in the new bar. Given the downstairs bar is now shut for refurbishment, it’s the obvious best (and indeed only) place for a pre-movie drink, too.

BTW it’s also worth using the Odeon iPhone app to book, too, since the online Flash site is a bit annoying in comparison.

* Obviously, it’s not that old. But so what?