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Watch Ghostbusters in 3D (really!)

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The comedy comes to life by breaking the screen

Ghostbusters was released yesterday evening, and I decided on a whim to watch the film in 3D when I took my daughter. There doesn’t seem to be much buzz about the implementation of the movie’s 3D effects before launch, but I was pleasantly surprised by director Paul Feig’s use of the technology.

The film is presented in letterbox, meaning there are black bars on the top and bottom of the frame. This makes the image look wider, especially on the already immense screen at my local theater, but more importantly it gave Feig the freedom to then put elements of the image over that frame.

It sounds like a gimmick, and it definitely is, but Ghostbusters as a property always had this fun way of mixing the humorous with the often scary. The creature designs of the film are already top-notch and feel more physical than what we’re used to in this sort of film, and Feig’s careful use of moments where the jump scares or even comedic notes seem to literally pop through the screen give the film a sort of joyful funhouse rhythm.

The jokes don’t always land, even though the cast is working mightily to make the best out of a so-so script, but the use of 3D goes a long way to giving the movie a sense of life and even danger that is missing from most boring 3D presentations where a few layers are slapped on after the fact. These 3D effects here were planned, and used well.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

"So, yeah, stuff is 'Coming at You,’" Movie Web reported. "And it literally looks like some of the ghost fights have extended into the theater. Like I said, very simple, but it works like a magic trick, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone else attempt 3D in quite this manner. Perhaps I'm wrong. But no director has had this much fun using 3D in a long time, that's for sure."

"3D can be something that adds a tremendous amount to a film by using the format to help tell the story," Collider stated. "And that’s exactly what Paul Feig has done with Ghostbusters. He’s used 3D to help tell the story, and because of that, I strongly recommend seeing Ghostbusters in IMAX 3D to get the full experience. Unlike some 3D films which use the format to add depth to the screen, Feig uses 3D in a fun and cool way by having the beams and explosions break the movie frame. I absolutely loved the way he uses the format, and it seemed everyone else who saw it in IMAX did as well."

Even Variety weaves praise for this visual conceit into criticism over the writing.

"Though Jones gets some of the film’s most memorable lines, her character channels a shameful racial stereotype — one that traces back to the days of blackface when it amused audiences to see African-American characters spook easily, bugging their eyes and running for their lives whenever confronted with a ghost — except that the ghosts here really are frightening (especially in 3D screenings of the film), when they literally appear to leap off the screen, projecting ectoplasm past the confines of the widescreen frame," the outlet explained.

This aspect of the movie was one of the most pleasant surprises of my viewing, and I’m glad I paid a few dollars extra for the 3D version of the film. Feig had a large budget for this movie, and it shows in the numerous effects shots that break the frame and shock or amuse the audience before retreating back into humor. Even the dimness problem that can often hurt 3D presentations was mitigated by the refreshing use of bright blues and greens.

If you’re going to see Ghostbusters, this is the way to do so.