I watched this film in both 2D and 3D to judge how well the conversion had been carried out. I am not a fan of converted films, as they always look layered and as if the characters have been pasted onto a flat background. I am afraid to say this film is little better than average. It has its moments and the 3D monsters and CGI scenes complete with pop out effects look fantastic, but if you add all these scenes up, it’s only about 20% of the whole film. For the most part, the location shooting looks too flat and the green screen even worse. The scenes inside the MiB headquarters are far less impressive than the earlier films, with the set plain to the point of blandness. A shame as this was a practical set and really does not look its best until we get back to the 60s. The Coney Island shots are bright and vibrant, but lack the depth that sets good 3D apart. The stomach churning swoops down the buildings and Apollo launch pad are great and the 3D works well here, but it’s all too little, too late.
Looking at the picture from a technical perspective, it’s a first rate MPEG AVC conversion, with very low noise and little visible film grain. Shot and presented in 1.85:1, the grading and colour temperature is excellent throughout. To add to the cartoon look, the picture has been given the “instagram” treatment, with slightly overblown exposure and lifted black level. This could have led to a reduced colour gamut, but the expert grading has largely avoided this, with no banding obvious. Even in 2D, the characters seem to pop out of the foreground in some scenes, due in part to extensive use of green screen, giving added control of the lighting and exposure levels of the complete plate. The location shoots don’t look quite so stand-out, but the use of back lighting and predominantly mid shots all adds to the feel. There is no doubt this movie was shot with great care, but we are all getting wise to CGI green screen backgrounds now. I guess it was a bit like the synthesiser period of the 80’s and 90’s – after the initial wow factor, we hankered after the slight rawness of real instruments and visually we don’t always want the clean perfection of a CGI landscape, more the grittiness that goes with reality.
More could have been made of the change in time between the present and 1969. Subtle re-colouring might have worked here, but instead a rather broad brush has been used.
In 2D, this film would get a solid 9 for picture quality, with vivid colours, strong blacks and a really nice, clean transfer. Moving into the 3D realm and the conversion costs the film a point or two. The picture just looks too cut out and it is only the excellent 3D monsters and animation sequences that pull it back up to an 8
Like most blockbusters, it’s loud, bold and bassy! The familiar MiB classic score is recycled into something little changed, but this is all for the good, as it was an excellent composition in the first place. The effects are huge and the surround sound envelopes you with explosions in a most satisfying way, but dialogue does get a little buried at times, to the extent that some lines are hard to hear. One particular line that did not stand out for me was when K asks J what is “The most damaging force in the universe?” Although J’s response – “Sugar” is clear, the correct answer of “Regret” from K is very hard to make out. There are other lines that suffer as well.
The low end is very solid and to be honest, really too prominent. There is energy all the way down to below 10 Hz, so in many systems this energy will be wasted as only tactile transducers can do anything useful with this frequency. The rest of the 5.1 DTS-HD Master surround mix however is excellent, with good placement and plenty of excitement. Subtlety was not high on the sound designer’s list of requirements, so the ambience suffers a little.
This soundtrack makes for a good demo disc, but gets tiresome for the length of the film. It really is a little too full on for my tastes.
The 3D two disc SKU also ships with an “Ultraviolet” downloadable copy for portable devices, but unusually this is not mentioned on the box. What is more usual is that the 3D disc simply will not play on a 2D system. If you do not have a 3D system you miss out on just two of the varied selection of extras. 3D extras are still quite rare and it is a welcome addition.
The Case of Boris the Animal – The 3D models of MiB is a clever little interactive reel allowing you to see some of the guns and aliens in isolation. The interesting bit is that it has plenty of pop out detail and is quite susceptible to cross talk, so it makes a good set up disc.
Converting to 3D is a 4 minute brief look at how the 2D filming was mated to the 3D models and animation. If you have ever wondered how they split out the image and turn them into the dreaded layers, this short lays the technique bare.
Turning to the 2D disc, we get plenty to go at. All are HD and well produced.
Spot the Alien Game: A fun little basic shooting game using the player remote.
Progression Reels: Imageworks reveal the level of CGI and Green Screen (In this case actually Blue) used at key points in the movie.
Scene Investigations: A look behind the scenes, but concentrating on specific key points in the movie. Again, lots of CGI stuff plus some interviews with the cast and crew.
The Evolution of Cool: This short examines the differences between the two decades in terms of look and feel. From the uber clean present day back to the steam punk ‘60s.
Partners in Time: The standard production diary short plus plenty of cast interviews about the film as a whole. Very well put together and interesting to boot. At 26 minutes, this is one of the longer shorts.
Back in Time – Pitbull Music video. Shameless promotion of the theme song with lots of clips from the film. ‘Nuff said really.
Gag Reel: It all feels a bit forced and is pretty short as well. There are only about 4 or 5 bloopers, with the rest being general larking around.
Keeping it Surreal: More visual FX stuff but with more of a documentary feel. It’s OK, but nothing special.
All in all a good selection of extras, with well over an hour to plough through.
Soundtrack and subtitle wise, we get English, German, Spanish and for the subtitles, Hindi as well. The menu is slow and clunky, particularly on the 3D disc, which switches repeatedly from 2D to 3D as it loads up. Very annoying on active TVs.
This disc is Regions B & C only. there is a seperate American SKU.
MiB 3 is a worthy addition to the franchise. Maybe not as funny as the original film, it is still good watching with a good storyline and acting throughout. Nothing too upsetting for the little ones despite the alien body count.
Technically this film is pretty good, but the 3D conversion lets things down. It really should have been shot in native 3D, as the rest of the CGI looks brilliant. The extras are well up to standard, as is the sound track, even if it is a little bass heavy for my tastes.
As I said at the start of the review, I give this a slightly reserved recommendation, but this is more about the 3D than the storyline or technical quality. Buy it for the kids and sneak in at the back to watch it too!
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