There’s a difference between having great 3D and using 3D well. That little difference separates the best 3D movies from the awful ones. No one likes to actually pay the extra three to four bucks to see a 3D movie. And if you do, you’re probably in the minority. Sorry, but hashing out some bills for some 3D effects that could actually hinder the movie is a gamble I’m not always willing to take.

In order to have a great 3D movie, the effects must do three things.

  1. They must not induce migraines. Really, this is a simple one. No jarring, roller coaster, mind-numbing effects, please.
  2. They must not be invisible. Seriously, if I’m paying for some 3D glasses and I can take them off without a change, then I should get a refund.
  3. They must enhance the movie without causing number 1. So many movies fail to do this (I’m looking at you, Avatar).
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Surprisingly, not a lot of 3D films actually complete the three steps in order to become successful in my eyes. But there are those few that I’ve walked out and said, “That was worth the money!” Because in the end, we just want to feel like we didn’t waste a few extra bucks. My top three 3D favorites:

3. The Avengers — I walked right out of this movie and appreciated my decision to go 3D. The special effects added to the galactic and modern world without taking me out of the film. And the Hulk’s CGI was downright amazing with the additional three-dimensional element.

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2. The Amazing Spider-Man — Yes, another superhero film, but the 3D proved to be in Spidey’s favor. Everything looked beyond real, and I can safely say this was the second movie I’ve sat in where the audience members grab at the air. Things float towards you. And the end…3D heaven.

1. Sanctum — An underrated movie, but one that I enjoyed far more in 3D than I would have otherwise. I saw this in theaters with a very small crowd, and I walked out being amazed at how the 3D had enhanced the cave diving film more than any other I’d seen. Imagine a Natural Geographic film in 3D with an engaging story and seasoned actors. That’s Sanctum. When you come out knowing that it would have been worse in 2D, I think that’s the mark of the best use of effects. Because if we’re paying extra, shouldn’t it be better than the other version? I think so.

What are your favorite 3D movies? Agree or disagree with my list? Start the conversation below!

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– Becca Ritchie