The 20 most awesome 3D movies of 2012

The best 3D movies of 2012 - Pixar's Brave

The best 3D movies of 2012 - Pixar's Brave

Here we take a look at the best 3D movies of 2012. Featuring influential and award-winning animators, sculptors and FX teams, you won't want to miss out on any of these theatrical offerings....

01. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

Released on 28th March, Aardman studios and director Peter Lord bring the very first 3D stop motion film to life. The Pirates! tells the story of the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) and his mission to defeat his rivals, Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz, in scooping the Pirate of the Year Award. The journey takes the Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the streets of Victorian London.

Also featuring the voices of David Tenant as Charles Darwin and Martin Freeman as the pirate with the scarf, this most star-studded of animated 3D movies is a truly revolutionary concept.

Whilst a live action movie takes around three months to shoot, this film took around 18 months to complete by hand. With the endless sculpting and perfecting, Aardman managed to get around 1 - 4 seconds of footage per week; most of which ended up in the final film.

Lloyd Price is the animation supervisor on this one and, with Tim Burton's 'Nightmare before Christmas' and Oscar-winning 'A Close Shave' under his belt, The Pirates is unlikely to disappoint.

For a behind-the-scenes featurette visit 3D World or for more information visit The Pirates! website.

02. Dr Seuss' The Lorax

Universal are at it again. Here comes another Dr Seuss adaptation. Released in the UK on July 27th, The Lorax tells the story of Ted, a boy searching for the one thing (a real-life tree) that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Touching on themes of greed and environmental issues, the film sets out to teach kids a thing or two about the planet. From an animation and design point of view, it is just awe-inspiringly beautiful. Just watch the trailer below.

Character voices are provided by Danny DeVito (the Lorax), The American Office's Ed Helms (the Once-ler), with Zac Efron as Ted and Taylor Swift as Audrey.

Directed by Despicable Me's Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda (Despicable Me, Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc.) the film has promising prospects.

Designers on board include Ratatouille character designer Carter Goodrich, while 3D character development has been left in the capable hands of Mike Defeo, who worked on the Ice Age franchise as well as Alien Resurrection.

For more info on the film visit Dr Seuss' The Lorax website.

03. Brave

This is the first original story from Pixar in almost five years thanks to (moderately) successful sequels and prequels. That alone could make it one of the best 3D movies in a while. Brave tells the story of Princess Merida, a young girl determined to go against tradition and make her own way in life. She must depend on her archery skills and bravery to defy a beastly curse.

Released on 17th August and directed by Mark Andrews, Pixar's latest venture seems to be stirring up quite a commotion. However, as Andrews has just directed Disney's biggest ever flop 'John Carter' there could be some raised eyebrows on the horizon.

Starring Kelly Macdonald as Princess Merida, Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor and Billy Connolly as King Fergus, Brave is a sincerely Scottish affair.

The special effects are in seriously experienced hands with Lou Hamou-Lhadj (Toy Story 3, Wall-E) on character modelling and Allen Hemberger (Avatar, Matrix trilogy) as FX technical director.

For a scene sneak peek visit 3D World, or for more information visit the Brave website.

04. Avengers Assemble

Who doesn't love a Superhero movie? So when looking at the best 3D movies, why wouldn't we be getting excited about a film which manages to squeeze almost all of them onto the screen at the same time?

Released on April 26th, Avengers Assemble features Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who all come together to help save the Earth from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army.

Set to be one of the best 3D movies of the year, not only does it include as many spandex-clad actors as you can shake a stick at, Buffy creator Joss Whedon takes to the director's chair whilst an Oscar-winning team brings this Marvel classic to life.

Graphic designer Martin Charles worked on last year's huge hit The Artist, whilst digital set designer Patrick Dunn-Baker was part of the award-winning team of Hugo. With a good director, a cluster of hot actors, plus a design team to die for, we dare you to not go and see this when it opens.

For more information visit the Avengers Assemble website.

05. Men in Black III

Yep, it's another sequel. But this one actually looks like a winner. Men in Black III see's Will Smith reprise the quip-happy role of Agent J as he heads back in time to the 1960s to stop an alien from assassinating his friend, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones.)

Released on May 25th, Barry Sonnenfeld once again takes the reins as director, whilst Emma Thompson joins the cast as Agent O.

The special effects team really are quite special. The VFX foreman is Craig Barnett, who created the special effects for the entire Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. While Direct Dimensions, who have worked on Black Swan and The Hunger Games, take care of the 3D scanning. Was this one of your best 3D movies?

For more information visit the Men in Black III website.

06. The Amazing Spider-man

It's more spandex and it's a prequel. But we can't help but feel a niggle of excitement over the latest Spider-man release. This time Brit actor Andrew Garfield throws on the red and blue suit, whilst Emma Stone stars as Gwen Stacy.

In The Amazing Spider-man, Peter Parker finds a series of clues that may link back to his parents' disappearance, putting him on a lethal path towards Rhys Ifans' Dr. Curt Connors (The Lizard to me and you.)

Released on 4th July, this has summer blockbuster written all over it. The design team is of blockbuster proportions too. it includes veteran special effects technician Roland Blancaflor, who has worked on Total Recall, 300 and Black Swan. While graphic designer Susan A. Burig (Transformers, Pearl Harbour) also lends a hand.

For more information visit The Amazing Spider-man website.

07. Prometheus

Ridley Scott makes a long overdue (and highly anticipated) return to the world of Alien. When a team of explorers take their ship 'Prometheus' on a voyage to investigate alien life forms, they become stranded on an Alien world and are left to face a terrifying battle to save the human race.

Queue lots of awesome CGI, gloomy gothic visuals and a cast consisting of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, and - if geek expectations are anything to go by - this will definitely be one of the best 3D movies this year.

Released on June 1st, Prometheus features the work of creature designer Martin Rezard. He might well have the best job in the universe, having previously worked on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2.

For more information visit the Prometheus website.

08. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

Our favourite pre-historic characters are back to embark upon yet another adventure. After their continent is set adrift, Manny, Diego, and Sid create an iceberg ship and encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

Directors Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!) and Mike Thurmeier (visual effects for Fight Club) tackle this tired franchise. Released in cinemas on July 6th, Ray Ramano (Manny), Queen Latifah (Ellie), Denis Leary (Diego) and John Leguizamo (Sid) all reprise their roles.

Trusted character designer Peter DeSeve, who worked on films such as Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc, is joined by character simulator Lauren Carr for this one. For kids young and old, this could definitely be one of the best 3D movies for 2012.

For more information visit 3D World or the Ice Age 4 website.

09. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Yet another sequel (do you detect a trend?). But you can't fault the undeniable animation talents of Dreamworks. Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman (David Schwimmer) are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple.

This time, their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a travelling circus. Released on October 19th, the film doesn't hit our shores for a little while. Directors include: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon.

The artistic team is phenomenal and includes paint fix artist Jasper M. Baltzersen, who has previously worked on How to Train Your Dragon, Super 8 and Transformers. CGI artist Yiqun Chen, who worked on Shrek Forever After, is also involved.

For more information visit the Madagascar 3 website.

10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Finally, a prequel everyone is excited about. Peter Jackson takes his Lord of the Rings knowledge and filters it through to the original story of The Hobbit.

The film itself isn't released until December 2012. But we can expect a truly remarkable story. Surely you know it by now? Bilbo Baggins, somewhat controversially played by Martin Freeman, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a team of dwarves to reclaim a stolen treasure.

Much of the original cast of Lord of the Rings are involved, with Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and Ian Holm all making appearances.

Behind the scenes, set designer Mark Stephen, senior special effects technician Karl Chisholm and senior animator Daniel Zettl claim the likes of Avatar and the Adventures of Tin Tin on their CVs. Forget 2012. With the cast and crew Jackson has assembled, The Hobbit could be one of the best 3D movies to date!

For more information visit The Hobbit website.

11. Rise of the Guardians

The team over at Dreamworks are a talented bunch, creating the very successful Shrek and more recently, How to Train Your Dragon. So, it comes as no surprise that their latest venture - Rise of the Guardians - looks like an absolute belter.

The story focuses on four of our favourite childhood characters - Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman. As long as the children believe in them, they will protect them.

All seems to be going swimmingly until the evil Boogieman comes to take over the world, naturally. It's up to these four friends to save humanity and all the children that go with it.

Executive producer Guillermo del Toro (famed for his work on Pan's Labyrinth) is on hand to give the film some extra spice. The film is also in capable 3D hands as Vlad Bina, who has worked on the likes of the Matrix trilogy and Sin City, takes on the role of 3D concept designer.

Released in November, we've got quite a while to wait but if the trailer is anything to go by, it'll be well worth it.

For more information visit the Rise of the Guardians website.

12. Resident Evil: Retribution

Another Resident Evil film? Why the hell not. This is number five in the series and they don't seem to be stopping any time soon. Milla Jovovich is once again on hand to reprise her role as Alice. Action girl Michelle Rodriguez also features as Rain Ocampo.

Coming out on September 14th, there hasn't been much said about the film. All we know is that Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead. If you take a look at the trailer, it looks like it's something to do with technology too.

Visual Effects Editor Kelly Noordermeer has previously worked on the hugely successful Tron Legacy and indie flick Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Dennis Berardi, who can claim Fight Club and the previous Resident Evil films to his C.V. is on hand as Visual Effects Supervisor.

For more information visit the Resident Evil: Retribution website.

13. Frankenweenie

Tim Burton is famous for his dark and comical approach to film making and Frankenweenie looks like no exception. Shot in his famous stop motion fashion, the film tells the tale of Young Victor.

After witnessing his beloved dog Sparky being run over, he fixes him up the only way he knows how. After the successful science experiment brings Sparky back to life, Victor must face the often monstrous and distastrous consequences.

Released just in time for Halloween on October 12th, Frankenweenie could be the child of a Nightmare before Christmas. The film also reunites Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara, who have previously worked with Burton on Beetlejuice.

Graphic designer Lucy Begent has previously worked on the charming Wes Anderson film Fantastic Mr. Fox whilst mould maker Claire Tennant worked on the cult smash Mary & Max.

For more information, visit the Frankenweenie website.

14. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

At first we were a bit confused when we read that Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter in this movie. But it all quickly made sense when we realised it was produced by dark and quirky director Tim Burton.

The historical, bizarre world portrays America's 16th President as having a secret identity as a vampire hunter. After Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, it drives him to slay vampires and their slave-owning helpers.

Various studios worked on the visual effects for this film, including Weta Digital and SPIN VFX. One of the VFX supervisors on the project, SPIN's Jeff Campbell, has also worked on other heavy special effect films (and aptly Vampire based) such as The Twlight Saga: Breaking Dawn and Underworld: Awakening.

While arguably a bit batty, with Russian director Timur Bekmambetov at the helm and Burton by his side, this movie looks to have a good mixture of just pure crazy and awesome special effects to make it a huge hit.

For more information, visit Fox movies.

15. ParaNorman

Coraline was a massive success thanks to its dark twist on a children's story. Coraline's director Chris Butler unites with Flushed Away director Sam Fell to bring you ParaNorman.

It tells the tale of Norman - a misunderstood boy who can talk to the dead. When his town is threatened with an invasion of ghosts, zombies and grown-ups, it's up to Norman to stop them all.

What makes this release so exciting is that if it's anywhere near as good as Coraline, we want to see it. Paul Mack is back as model maker after previously working on the wonderful Coraline. Animator Daniel Alderson worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox and is also working on the upcoming Frankenweenie.

The film features an all-star cast of Anna Kendrick, John Goodman and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Due for release on September 14th, ParaNorman looks set to be a roaring success with kids and adults alike.

For more information visit the ParaNorman website.

16. Finding Nemo

Almost ten years after its initial release in 2003, Disney have once again decided to re-release one of their classic tales into the 3D world. This year we have already seen the likes of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King once again propelled onto our cinema screens with many praising the shiny new aesthetics of the films (and those of us too young to witness them on the big screen, finally got the chance) But is it too soon for this fishy tale?

Finding Nemo tells to tale of Nemo - an adorable clownfish that becomes separated from his overprotective father Marlon. Timid Marlon then sets out on a quest to find his son, meeting quirky Dory on the way as well as some scary sharks and surfer turtles. It's a heartfelt tale which captured the hearts of cinema goers and enabled Disney to gross almost $900,000,000.

The computer graphics artists were seriously impressive with Frank Aalbars who had previously worked on Titantic and Anthony A. Apodaca who had worked on Toy Story 1 and 2. The animation team included the likes of Alan Barillaro, Dylan Brown and Carlos Baena, whose work included Jurassic Park III, Men in Black II, Monsters Inc and A Bug's Life.

Will you be going to see the 3D version on September 14th? For more information, visit the Finding Nemo website.

17. Dredd

Now, we know the 1995 release of Judge Dredd wasn't going to win any Oscars or reach any 'Best Film' lists but hey, it was an action packed, cheesy thrill ride that many of us enjoyed. Sylvestor was doing his usual big man thing and lets face it, he was pretty good at that during the late 80s/early 90s. So, how will this (sort of) remake fare with 2012 cinema goers?

Pete Travis is taking on the reigns as director after Duncan Jones of 'Moon' fame apparently turned it down. It tells the story of a futuristic city where 'judges' a.k.a. the police, are able to act as judge, jury and executioner to protect the city and its civilians. A reality altering drug SLO-MO is threatening to bring the city its knees and only Judge Dredd can stop it. Karl Urban - who has previously starred in Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings - is taking on the role of Dredd.

The 3D department contains plenty of fresh meat, with Dredd only being their 2nd or 3rd film. Juan Antonio Alamo is working as the 3D technical director and rightly so, after working on the likes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the remake of Total Recall. The film is set for release on September 21st.

For more information visit the Dredd Facebook page.

18. Wreck-it Ralph

Now this is a 3D film that we're all excited about. The trailer was only released last week and since then, the forums have been brimming with anticipation with this latest offering from the Walt Disney Animation studios. Maybe this original story will make up for all the re-releases, sequels and prequels, eh?

The film tells the story of Wreck-It Ralph, the 'bad guy' of a video arcade game who longs to be loved as the game's good guy, Fix-it Felix. After years of enduring the pain of always playing the baddy, Ralph sneaks his way into a modern, first-person shooter game and sees it as his ticket to playing the hero. Problem is, Ralph can't help but wreck everything, which leads to him accidentally unleashing a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade.

It's directed by Rich Moore, who has worked on animation favourites The Simpsons and Futurama. There are some seriously leading animators on board for the project, including Alberto Abril who can claim The Adventures of Tin Tin, The Incredible Hulk and Rise of the Planet of the Apes to his C.V.

We can't wait for the release on November 2nd. For more information visit the Wreck-it Ralph website.

19. Life of Pi

Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading the best selling novel by Yann Martel may be a little bit sceptical about a film adaptation. However, the film is in the capable directorial hands of Ang Lee - who quickly became one of our best film makers thanks to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain.

It tells the story of an Indian boy called Pi (played by Shuraj Sharma) the son of a zookeeper who, after a shipwreck, finds himself stranded in the Pacific Ocean with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and a Bengal tiger. The character of Yann Martel is taken on by ex-Spiderman Toby Maguire, with Irrfan Khan and Tabu also joining the cast.

There is a huge team taking on the special effects for this film. David Stopford, who has previously worked on Clash of the Titans, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Watchemen, is acting as the lead effects technical director. The Visual Effects supervisor role is in the capable hands of Bill Westenhofer, who has worked on The A-Team and The Chronicles of Narnia.

The film is set for release on November 21st and sadly, there isn't an official trailer yet but the footage above already looks pretty impressive! For more information, visit the Life of Pi website.

20. Hotel Transylvania

The lead actors in this new animation from Sony may not be on everyones favourite list but the antics showcased in the trailer make it look like a fun, harmless offering from the makers of Despicable Me and Ice Age.

Hotel Transylvania tells the story of Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world. Unfortunately, he goes into overprotective mode when a human boy discovers the resort and falls for the count's teenaged daughter.

The story line may be a bit samey, but the 3D animation looks brilliant. Of course, Sony Pictures Imageworks are in charge of the visual effects, with Daniel Erickson at hand as the stero 3D technical director and Daniel Kramer as the visual effects supervisor.

For more information, visit the Hotel Transylvania website.

Did our best 3D movies list feature your favourites? Let us know in the comments box below!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of seven full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Abi Le Guilcher, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.