The Toy Story 3D Experience

toystorySo I convinced my 5 year old son that it was his idea to go see the Toy Story 1&2 Double feature in 3D. That part of the plan went well, and last weekend we found ourselves on our way to the closest digital theater 45 minutes away. Originally intended as a family event, it became a guys-only event when my wife and daughter discovered that Harry Potter was playing at the dollar theater 45 minutes in the other direction.  That turned out to be a bit of a serendipity, as the girls spent $12 for their tickets AND the popcorn.  We, on the other hand, paid $23 for our tickets alone. A bit shell shocked, I rallied, deciding that this was a fun little adventure and not counting the cost.  Then we went to the refreshment counter.

You know those scams aimed at young, naive cashiers?  I mean the ones where the crook asks for change from his purchase, then asks for different bills, then changes his mind again.  When he’s finished, he leaves behind a bemused and befuddled cashier who will come up significantly short at the end of their shift.  Well, that’s the way the concession stand felt to me.  Somehow, the young lady at the counter convinced me that the best bargain available for a man and his young son was a combo deal.  We left the concession counter with our popcorn and two drinks – I, bemused, befuddled, and $18 poorer.  My 5 year old son helped by barely managing to carry his own drink – 64 ounces of pink lemonade.

After the financial sneak attack by the box office and that girl serving popcorn, we made our way to the theater where we were given our very fashionable 3D glasses.  The rest of the evening went quite well, although I should point out that little kids have to be instructed not to adjust their glasses by grabbing the lenses with their buttery popcorn fingers.  That required some mid-movie education.

I must say that I am skeptical of the 3D movie phenomenon.  I’ve read articles claiming that 3D technology will be the next revolution in filmmaking.  Uh… no.  It won’t.  Movies are about stories, and a bad movie in 3D is still a bad movie.  That being said, the Toy Story movies are wonderful stories, and the 3D rendering added some new appreciation for the films.  Here are some Pros and Cons of the experience.

PROS

  • Seeing these movies on the big screen again.  I don’t have blue ray yet, so some of the details of the films are unavailable to me when I watch them again at home.  I had a lot of fun reading the titles of the books on the shelves in Andy’s room and the fine print on the toys and games themselves. Even after seeing these movies over and over again (my son is five, remember), I still managed to notice new things. Did you know that there are A Bug’s Life toys on the shelves in Al’s Toy Barn?  Did you know that the little aliens have the Pizza Planet logo on their uniforms?  I didn’t.
  • Visual Depth.  While fast motion didn’t seem to track correctly, some of the still shots were visually stunning.  The added depth was just enough to inspire a real “wow” reaction.  This was particularly true of outdoor scenes, where there was even more depth of field.  There was a scene in Sid’s room following the rain storm where you looked through the window to the outside.  The rain drops on the window contrasted against the trees in the distance was one of those “wow” moments for me.
  • The Dad Factor.  It was a treat to sit in the theater with my son watching those two favorite movies.  The fact that he lasted through both is a testament to the quality of the films.
  • The intermission.  Not only did we get a 10 minute break, but we were treated with some extra content and trivia while we waited.  Mostly, it was reused commercials from when Toy Story aired on TV combined with some new voice acting from the cast and a giant 10.9.8… counter on the screen.  Nothing special, but it made the intermission fun.

CONS

  • The cost.  Wow.  I still can’t believe that.  Granted, it was a double feature and in 3D, but the cost alone will be a deterrent to seeing future films at that theater, much less those in 3D.  Another reason I’m glad I live in a small town where a full price ticket costs $8.
  • Polarized glasses are dark.  It’s not a huge detraction, but the brightness of the movie does take a hit in 3D, particularly at the periphery.
  • Motion doesn’t track right.  I found that my eyes were essentially dropping frames when things were moving quickly on screen.  The 3d images didn’t seem as smooth to me.  I can only speculate as to the cause, but I enjoyed still shots or slow panoramas over the action scenes.

All in all, it was a good time.  I’m glad to have done it.

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