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7 Amazing 3D Blu-rays For Your Home Theater


By Eric Podolsky, 10/10/12


As the 3D Blu-ray market grows larger with every passing year, we’re finding it harder and harder to sift through the plethora of mediocre 3D films to find ones that are truly worthy of our home theater. It’s certainly true that there is a discrepancy between what constitutes a good film and a good 3D film -- eye-popping 3D visuals will often make up for the lack of a good plot when it comes to 3D Blu-rays. Conversely, while there are plenty of fantastic movies that have been released on 3D Blu-ray, most of the time 3D just doesn’t add much to the overall film experience, and you’d probably be better off just getting the 2D Blu-ray (see: every Pixar film).


With that in mind, here’s a list of some of AVS’ favorite 3D Blu-rays: these discs all boast breathtaking 3D effects that truly enhance the cinematic experience without feeling like an added, unneeded distraction to the story - the visuals serve and enhance the story properly, which is what 3D should do (though it fails in this much of the time). For succeeding in that goal, these films should all be worthy of a permanent place in your Blu-ray collection.


A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventure



This fun animated Belgium film is a 50 year story of a sea turtle, following the effects that global warming have on his life. Though it isn’t even currently available in the U.S., this film’s seriously popping 3D effects have garnered it enough attention on AVS Forum to make it the current reigning champion of 3D Blu-rays. Though the movie’s somewhat cheesy plot is aimed at kids, this its incredible depth and pop-out factor is arguably the most extreme of any 3D Blu-ray on the market, and certainly more extreme than any 3D film Hollywood has produced.


As AVS member buonforte says, “the movie takes place out of the screen and in your living room. Whatever method they used to achieve this doesn't matter to me, the results are stellar. A truly outstanding reference quality that has (at this point in time) no equal.” g_bartman added that “It did not cause any extreme eye fatigue; you could literally reach out and touch objects in some scenes.” If you’re looking for a definitive demo disc for your 3D system, Sammy’s Adventure is well worth the effort in tracking down an overseas copy -- its extreme effects are really that good.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island



At times, this admittedly silly, non-stop visual spectacle of a film feels more like a Disneyland ride than a movie, but that’s the whole point. Journey 2 (as well as the slightly lesser first film) was made to showcase the 3D format, and it unabashedly succeeds in this better than any film thus far. It’s true -- it would be utterly pointless to see this film in 2D, but in 3D, it shines like none other. Member TonyDP has no problem in getting behind some good, gimmicky entertainment every now and then: “Yes, the movie is dumb, goofy, improbable and often preposterous...But in terms of 3D it really doesn't get much better than this release. Depth into the screen is constant and always very strong...The movie peppers you with scene after scene of stuff popping out at you: berries bouncing off The Rock's pecs, giant bees, giant centipedes, electric eels, and an electrified spear that goes right thru your eye...


“The movie's cinematography also smartly manages extreme contrast ranges so you get a picture that is pretty much free of ghosting on any type of 3D display, no matter how old it is. The digital image is razor sharp, ultra colorful and perfectly clear (film grain fans need not bother with this one)...While ‘serious’ 3D movies like Avatar and Hugo are fine, every now and then you want to check your brain at the door and just spend 90 minutes ducking and weaving as stuff is virtually hurled at you. Journey 2 has that need covered, and for that reason alone should probably be checked out at least once by every 3D fan.” ‘Nuff said!





What can be said at this point about Avatar that hasn’t been said yet? This one’s clearly a no-brainer -- the film practically ushered in the new era of 3D cinema when it was released, and now that it is finally seeing a widespread 3D Blu-ray release on 10/16, anyone can experience James Cameron’s painstakingly rendered, immaculately gorgeous world of the Na’vi. Though the breathtaking 3D moments are too numerous to mention, my favorites have to be any scene with the dragon-like Toruks, and the glow-in-the-dark nighttime forest scenes. The detail and depth in every frame are a wonder to behold.





Though its 3D effects aren’t as in-your-face as other films, Hugo features maybe the best use of stunning 3D visuals to compliment its excellent story. 3D more often than not is used as an entertaining gimmick that’s inessential to the actual story, but Martin Scorsese’s tasteful use of 3D in Hugo brings it to life, driving the plot forward with its natural use of depth and movement. As the camera pans, swoops and glides around the turn-of-the-century train station, diving into the gears and sprockets of the station’s elaborate clock tower, it’s hard not to get lost in Scorsese’s beautiful mechanized world. alexuts2oo4 agrees: “I was really impressed...The 3D is very well used, the picture is very crisp, detail is amazing, colors are vibrant and the picture is bright. And there is little to no crosstalk...I'm very glad I purchased it, because now it's my favorite 3D live-action film, and the new demo for overall 3D quality.” Though this is a great film even in 2D, Hugo truly has to be seen in 3D to experience the full, deeply immersive effect that Scorsese has achieved.





Tangled is another film that succeeds on its own as a great 2D movie, but watch it in 3D, and you’ll be amazed at how much the story is enhanced by the added depth. Tangled is Disney’s first non-Pixar CGI film, and they definitely nailed it -- the film seamlessly combines the smoothness of traditional Disney animation with the immaculate detail of modern CGI. The animation is lush and fluid, and the 3D adds just enough realism to the story, keeping you mesmerised without being distracted. One notable 3D scene of remarkable beauty occurs when the characters are in a canoe on a lake, and glowing lanterns float into the night sky -- it’s gorgeous scenes like these that make a home 3D setup all worth it. nickels55 concurs: “Just watched Tangled 3D with the kids. WOW! That is some of the best use of 3D that I've seen on my set to date. The lantern scene towards the end should be the go-to scene in stores selling 3D equipment. Unreal depth and lots of pop-out.” This is one 3D Blu-ray kids and adults alike can get behind.


A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas



When it comes to 3D Blu-rays, Harold & Kumar is a definite sleeper. This raunchy comedy pulls no punches in using the 3D format to mess with the audience -- there are surprising, well-executed pop-outs at every turn, and though they are mostly gimmicks, the film is very entertaining as a result. Just listen to wnielsenbb: “I've found the ultimate live action 3D effect movie...Wow, that movie goes out of its way to throw stuff in your face. Well, and to offend everyone. If you aren't easily offended, it is a great demo. Actually, you don't have to be too easy to offend...H&K 3D is clearly the king of pop-out.”


This film’s off-the-wall antics (particularly Neil Patrick Harris’) combined with its blatant, unapologetic use of 3D put it near the top of its class when it comes to live-action 3D Blu-rays. But as bnr32jason mentions, it hasn’t really gotten much recognition: “Wow, I'm really surprised that more people aren’t raving about Harold & Kumar 3D. I've watched 30 or 40 3D Blu-ray movies now and this one is by far the best. Of course it's all subjective opinion, but I don't understand why more people aren't talking about this movie yet.” This may be because it’s a Christmas film -- perhaps it will get more traction this holiday season.


IMAX: Under The Sea



This underwater documentary boasts incredible 3D footage of sea creatures, and is narrated by Jim Carrey. What more could you want? There are many amazing IMAX documentaries that look incredible on 3D Blu-ray, but the consensus seems to be that Under the Sea is the best of them all. tonyjd40 backs this up: “The best 3D Blu-ray ever, and I have watched tons...When the eel is swimming slowly towards you, it really looks as if it is hovering right in front of you. I couldn’t believe how awesome that was...my daughter loved it. best 3D effect ever, no doubt!”


But the real reason for Under the Sea’s popularity has to be because of the most famous potato cod in history -- this big guy has been blowing everyone away with his show-stealing, extreme pop-out scene. avswilier describes it: “The single most incredible 3D effect has to be from Under the Sea, 21 minutes in...Heard a lot of talk about the potato cod...When you see it for yourself it's breathtaking...Absolutely convincing...I could not resist trying to touch it, it was sooooooo far out of the screen! Amazing!!!” Av8tr agrees: “Just another vote for IMAX Under the Sea and the potato cod. It was the first 3D movie I bought almost a year ago, and I have since been using it to show off the 3D to any visitors that come over.” The potato cod: helping home theater owners demo their 3D systems since 2010!

Comments (64)

To be honest, I haven't seen any of these movies, but I did recently pick up Titanic on 3D Blu-ray Disc and was quite impressed with the conversion. Clash of the Titans (2010) in 3D was also quite good at times IMHO.
It's hard to nail down such a short list, but I use A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey as my 3D demo and people are always picking their jaws up off the floor. Other than that, all the rest seem like great choices (although I haven't seen Sammy's Adventure yet).
Hubble 3d is another great 3d movie. Definitely, a must watch for 3d projector and tv owners
"Hugo" was amazing to me. Can't wait to see "Prometheus". those were shot in 3D
i want to use 3d on my panasonic viera plasma so bad but the glasses are way too expensive. can someone recommend some reliable inexpensive ones? i am really itching to see what its like.
@bradymartin: If you have a 2012 panasonic, you can pick up a couple of pairs of Samsung 3D glasses for 20 bucks apiece because they are all compatible. They feel cheap and are not as nice as Panasonic ones but they work and the picture quality is just as good. If you have an older Panasonic TV, you're out of luck.
Tangled 3D as one of the top 7 is a bit of a stretch. Possibly add Titanic...certainly considering it's the best post conversation on the market.
The opening sequence of RE:Aftermath is amazing all around -- both visually (3-D water/rain effects) as well as for showing off the sound system --
I'm surprised not to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams on this list.
its funny you picked some of the least 3d movies around lol guess your not to into that whole in your face 3d like some of the other movies offer.
Personally, I would strongly recommend Promotheus 3D. Having seen many many 3D movies, including most on the list above, I was very positively surprised to find that Promotheus was the first 3D movie where the 3D version's picture quality was not reduced compared to the 2D version. I have seen both the 2D and 3D versions of several of the movies above and (except for Promotheus), I have always found the 3D PQ less impressive in terms of clarity and sharpness. OK, the 3D effects of Promotheus are more in terms of added depth than in-your-face, but it *really* adds value to the film -- you are just so much more immersed in the film, you feel as you are actually there. Amazing! The Promotheus 3D is not a gimmick, it shows a glimse of the future of film experience!
That exact fish is what sold me on getting a 3d tv. Walked into the store, went up to the demo and popped the glasses on and there happened to be that exact fish
For pop-outs and excellent visual deep i use a "cheesy" b-movie, recently released "Night of the living dead 3d: re-animation". Originally shot in 3D has really great "in your face" effects, great deep and no ghosting on my setup. The movie itself ... well, let's say there's better
Avatar is an easy winner. I've had it on BD 3D for a long time now and it's amazing even at home. I have over 40 3D BDs and one that has some great effects is G-Force.
@bradymartin: If you dont have a 2012 Panasonic 3D TV check out the Sony PS3 glasses that are for the small PS3 3D Display. I believe they are only $29.99 and have read about them working on many different brands of 3D HDTVs and if I remember correctly Panasonic is one of the brands. Also just to add to what tarzan1234 was saying about the 2012 Panasonics and the $20 Samsung glasses being cheap I definitely agree but they do have a much nicer pair that run about $50 that are quite nice. Its not a huge saving over the Pannys but it is a savings. I actually own a pair of the Panny glasses, a pair of the $20 and the $50 Sammy glasses and personally after using them for a bit I definitely preferred the more expensive Sammy glasses. Another idea is to check craigslist. I often see the 3D starter kits that often include 2 pairs of glasses and anywhere from 1 to 5 3D Blu-Ray movies for well under $100. Anyways hope any of this helps you get what you need to fully enjoy all that your plasma has to offer. I felt the same way when I bought my new Panny 60" GT50 but after biting the bullet I realized it was well worth it.

PS. Whichever ones you decided to get watch where you set them down at and make sure not to accidentally sit on a pair. I learned the hard way.
I have Avatar and G-Force on Bluray, they sure look good as does all the Pixar Blurays. Our Grand Son loves them. I am looking at a new fllatt screen thinking of getting a 3-D this time and the kids want a PS3 for video games. . So I thought I would use it for 3D movies or should I purchase a decated 3-D player???Movie 2012 Bluray is what I use to demo my HT system in 2D.
Agree with much; Prometheus' 3D was very minimal 3D in the theater as well as disappointing as a film so won't buy it. Hugo has some severe X talk on my 2011 Sony( A friend's 2012 HX850 shows no X talk in Hugo). Avatar wonderful, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Xmas was hilariously funny, and THAT cod in Under the Sea is great.
That potato cod has probably sold more 3DTVs than all the BB/Magnolia sales people combined.
When it was time to upgrade, gimmick or not, that cod convinced me that 3D was a must-have!
@bradymartin and Louis Bartay: I have Panasonic TC-P55GT30 2011 model Plasma TV with Playstation 3 as my 3D setup and $30 Playstation 3 3D glasses works just fine with me. I tested my setup with Playstation glasses with both 3D game and movie and it's comfortable to wear it over my prescription glasses through the entire movie, about an hour and half. The movie I tested with is Despicable Me. It has both good in depth and pop out on face effects. The games that I tested are Call of Duty: Black Op and Assassin's Creed : Revelations. Hope this helps.
Couldn't agree more! I bought under the sea for a whopping $39.99 and was astounded!
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