"Godzilla 3D" Review (Spoiler Free)
Pre-Review Note: I understand that many viewers believe 3D is a gimmick, especially when it’s achieved through a 2D-3D post conversion. This is simply a review of how I believe the filmmakers pulled it off, and a few insights to how 3D can work to tell a story and become an effective filmmaking tool. Although I do speak about a few specific moments in the film (nothing that would give anything away), you can trust this article as a spoiler-free review.
3D post-conversions are getting better and better every year. Godzilla is no exception. This film looked great in 3D, and used very appropriate depth based around the composition of each shot, and the timing of the story.
I relate this 3D experience to the post-conversion of “Pacific Rim” (another great 2D-3D conversion). When dealing with monsters that are hundreds of feet tall, the wide shots of these monsters require the camera to be placed hundreds of feet away from the action.
3D filmmaking works very similarly to the way our eyes perceive 3D. After a few hundred feet, our eyes can no longer see depth, and everything we see past a certain point becomes flat. In a stereoscopic 3D image, when the filmmakers force a great amount of depth in gigantic landscape shots like this, it creates an effect called “miniaturization”. We see the wide scope of the shot, but since the artificial depth is there when it isn’t supposed to be, out brains pull a 180 on us and make the subjects looks like tiny action figures on a small scale set. This would ruin the illusion of Godzilla’s presence in the movie.
But if the movie is in 3D, and the monster fight scenes are the most anticipated action sequences of the film, how do you get depth without ruining it for the audience? The filmmakers in a very clever fashion used artificial CGI renderings of ash, debris, fire and rain that created multiple depth cues from positive space (3D behind the screen) to negative space (3D in front of the screen). Additionally, they added very subtle hints of depth between the monsters’ scales, wings, faces and the distance between their bodies.
One of the most important facts about 3D to remember is that achieving a grand illusion of depth isn’t necessarily about sticking an object as far out into the audience as possible; it’s about creating a relationship between objects that form a line(s) of symmetry towards the furthest point out and the furthest point in. Godzilla achieves this with grace and poise.
Going back to the film itself, the most emotionally charged and cinematic moments of the film, in my opinion, took place in the first 15 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, the characters’ stories didn’t do half as much for me as the beginning of the film did. As a little boy stares out of a large window, he can see a power plant reduced to rubble a couple miles away (past his own reflection). The filmmakers’ took this opportunity to present a large amount of depth between the little boy’s shoulder and his own transparent reflection in the window glass, and then took a greater amount of depth in positive space (3D behind the screen) to eventually reach the crumbling power plant in a more or less flat plane (due to the distance from the boy/camera).
Who cares? What does that do for us? If I’m going to explain one instance of how 3D brings a powerful tool of raw storytelling to a film, I’ll elaborate on this one. Seeing the great amount of depth between the boy and his reflection, juxtaposed with the flat plane of destruction happening deep behind the screen, the audience is taken on a brief, but greatly advanced POV experience while still being able to see the boy, experience the acting, and soak in the story as the music swells. Juxtaposing those two different levels of depth gets us this much closer to truely understanding this boy’s fear and complete shock. It lets us become aware as individuals what it would be like to experience this kind of moment.
In conclusion, Godilla in 3D is definitely worth the few extra dollars at the box office. It will captivate you, add to your experience, and suck you into the story more than a 2D experience would.
- Jason Druss
Cinematographer & 3D Filmmaker
jasondruss.com | email@example.com
Mood Boards are a great tool in helping your art department, camera department, and talent get an early idea for the vision of your film as you enter pre-production.
Here is a copy of the mood board I created for my thesis film, “The Portrait”. The film is about an elderly couple trying to reconcile their relationship in the face of a tragedy.