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Peter Travers Lists 10 Best 3-D Films; 'Avatar,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Dial M for Murder,' Leaves Out Key Titles

by Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
November 23, 2012 2:51 PM
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"The Life of Pi"

With Ang Lee's 3-D achievement "The Life of Pi" earning strong reviews, Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers has compiled a list of the 10 best (and three worst) 3-D movies. Lee's adaptation of the Yann Martel novel ranks as the third best 3-D film, with -- you guessed it! -- James Cameron's "Avatar" as the reigning champ. But a duo of 1954 titles also receive deserved recognition: "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and Hitchcock classic "Dial M for Murder."

Meanwhile, Travers describes "Glee: The 3-D Concert Movie" as "hell on 3-D earth," and cites "Thor" as the most salient example of poor 3-D retrofitting. Travers overlooks, however, two sublimely transformative 3-D contributions from German filmmakers Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog: "Pina" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."  And what about Michael Bay's totally competitive 3-D in "Transformers: Dark Side of Moon"? It doesn't have to be a good movie to deliver state-of-the-art 3-D.

What do you think are the best and worst 3-D films?

Travers' Ten Best 3-D Films:

1. "Avatar" (dir. James Cameron, 2009)

2. "Hugo" (dir. Martin Scorsese, 2011)

3. "The Life of Pi" (dir. Ang Lee, 2012)

4. "The Adventures of Tin-Tin" (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2011)

5. "Toy Story 3" (dir. Lee Unkrich, 2010)

6. "Frankenweenie" (dir. Tim Burton, 2012)

7. "Dial M for Murder" (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

8. "Titanic 3-D" (dir. James Cameron, 2012)

9. "Ghosts of the Abyss" (dir. James Cameron, 2003)

10. "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (dir. Jack Arnold, 1954)

Three Worst 3-D Films:

1. "Wrath of the Titans" (dir. Jonathan Liebesman, 2012)

2. "Thor" (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2011)

3. "Glee: The 3-D Concert Movie" (dir. Kevin Tancharoen, 2011)


  • Casey | November 26, 2012 2:30 PMReply

    I think that far too many of the older 3-D titles have been out of circulation so long that one can't honestly make a list like this. One of the very best is Roy Ward Baker's INFERNO (1953), a film that rivals DIAL M for 3-D wonder in the 1950s. Good luck seeing it in 3-D though. And none of the 3-D films of the 80s even qualify, I guess, though again, most haven't been seen in their original format in years.

  • jim | November 25, 2012 12:35 AMReply

    Tin Tin, Frankenweenie, and Titantic, which isn't truly a 3D movie to begin with? Really Travers?! No Pina, Up, Coraline, Cane Toads, Cave of Forgotten Dreams or an oldie like House of Wax? How about Piranha 3D? When the fish spits out the guys genitals at the audience, now that's a truly transformative moment in the medium! LOL.

  • Beth Hanna | November 24, 2012 2:57 PMReply

    I think "Prometheus" deserves to make the list. I was struck by its remarkably immersive quality -- one of the few instances where I was watching a 3-D film and not thinking, "Okay, I'm watching this in 3-D." That's how seamless it was.

  • Anne Thompson | November 23, 2012 10:37 PMReply

    totally agree on "Coraline." Fabulous transformative use of 3-D. Also on "Life of Pi," but "Hugo" and "Avatar" are up there.

  • jessica taylor | November 23, 2012 10:28 PMReply

    Life of Pi should be # 1. Let's be real here.

  • Keil Shults | November 23, 2012 6:20 PMReply

    I've always thought Coraline offered one of the best 3-D experiences.

  • Reese | November 23, 2012 6:12 PMReply

    No Last Airbender in the worst three?

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