Men In Black 3

I saw Men In Black 3 last night, and all I can say is, Wow! Well, okay, I can say more than that. As with most 3D movies, I chose to see this one at an Imax theater, which uses two projectors—one for each eye—to increase the overall brightness of the image. Even though MIB3 was shot in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production, I thought the 3D effect was quite good overall. In fact, it seemed to me that the movie had been shot with 3D in mind, with lots of depth in many images—I especially enjoyed Agent J's fall from the skyscraper as he jumps back to 1969.

But if it's true that the movie was conceived to be 3D from the get-go, why didn't they shoot it stereoscopically? High-quality 3D conversion is expensive and time-consuming, but it can be tweaked as much as you need to make it right. By contrast, you have to get a stereoscopic shot right to start with—it's nearly impossible to fix it in post-production.

On the other hand, I believe that conversions cannot achieve the same 3D quality as movies shot in stereo. For example, there were quite a few images in MIB3 that exhibited the "cardboard-cutout effect," in which the actors look like they're standing in front of a flat set. This doesn't happen much in 3D movies shot with two cameras, because objects at different distances naturally appear that way during playback.

The conversion was done by Prime Focus, the same company that did the 3D conversion of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. As you can read in my blog about that movie, the conversion was terrible, whereas it was far better in MIB3. I suspect this difference can be attributed to the directors rather than the conversion company—George Lucas and Barry Sonnenfeld clearly had different visions of how the 3D should look, and Prime Focus simply followed the direction given to it.

As usual, I had my trusty Larson-Davis Model 700 sound-level meter, and over the course of two hours (trailers plus movie), I measured an average level of 84.5dBA. The highest maximum level during a 1-minute interval was 101dBA, while the highest instantaneous peak was 116.5dBA. The level remained above 88.5dBA 10 percent of the time, 81.5dBA 33 percent of the time, 78.5dBA 50 percent of the time, and 69.0dBA 90 percent of the time.

These numbers are within the safety limits established by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), but the loudest moments seemed really loud—especially the trailers, which were continuously loud—so I'm very glad I was wearing my custom-fit earplugs, which attenuate the entire frequency spectrum by 25dB. I even tried wearing my Bose QC15 noise-cancelling headphones along with my earplugs, which worked surprisingly well until the level got so high, it overloaded the noise-cancelling circuits!

Oh yeah, what about the movie itself? Is it any good? I certainly thought so. It's a good time-travel tale, and it beautifully incorporates the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics as experienced by Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg). Of course, Will Smith is his usual wise-cracking self as Agent J, and Josh Brolin seems to channel Tommy Lee Jones as young Agent K. (Jones himself seems a bit tired as old Agent K.) Emma Thompson appears as Agent O—K's unrequited love interest, which flies in the face of his backstory from the first movie—and Jemaine Clement's Boris the Animal is a wickedly fun bad guy.

Aside from some truly yucky moments—which are to be expected in the MIB franchise—I enjoyed this outing, which is at least as good as the original and a lot better than MIB2. See it in 3D if you can, and in Imax if there's one near you—just be sure to wear hearing protection!

abentrod's picture

Your instincts are correct Scott, Barry Sonnenfeld who directed MIB3 started as a Cinematographer and He was interviewed at length on the Sirius Radio show "Geek Time" where he spoke how he prefers filming in 2D and then converting while filming he would shoot with 3D in mind making the conversion much better.

Jarod's picture

Glad to hear you liked it. My wife and I are a fan of the series and we really enjoyed MIIIB. Great looking 3D as well seen on a Barco DCI pj with a RealD 3D setup on a smaller 30 foot screen. It was super bright. I've found that the best way to see RealD 3D is on a sub 50ft screen.

Sean.Z's picture

This is good to know. I saw Star Wars 3D and was quite disappointed at how much of a waste adding 3D was to the title. I am glad to hear that Men in Black 3 3D is better. It would seem as if they are getting this technology down better each time.

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