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The 25 best 3D movies with hidden depths

5. Hugo (2011) 

The film: Martin Scorsese's love letter to the medium of cinema is a marvellously playful concoction of stories and ideas. It's the tale of a young boy trying to make his way in the world without his departed parents, but Scorsese takes that framework and uses it to wax lyrical on everything he thinks great about the silver screen.

3D enhancement: As well as bringing young Asa Butterfield's world to life, Scorsese uses the effect to show how former auteurs made their audience jump out of their seats. His recreation of the Lumiere brothers' famous Arrival Of A Train At La Ciotat is a particularly exciting example. 

Most eye-popping scene: The aforementioned sequence in which a runaway train comes careening out of the screen. Every bit as effective now as it was back in 1895. 

Watch Hugo now on Amazon Prime Video 

4. Life of Pi (2012) 

The film: Ang Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's magic realist classic was cinema at its most visually stunning. The story of Pi, a young man lost at sea with only a tiger (named Richard Parker) for company, it was both a rich and meaningful, while showcasing some impeccable visual effects.

3D enhancement: The rolling seas, open skies and the infinite underwater realm are all beautifully realised. As Pi's little boat rises and falls on the ocean, the 3D really does help immerse you in his impossible predicament.

Most eye-popping scene: The moment where, on a peaceful night, Pi stares into the ocean at a swarm of bioluminescent jellyfish only for the water to be broken by the vast bulk of a whale is cinema at its most beautiful. 

Watch Life of Pi now on Amazon Prime Video 

3. Toy Story 3 (2010) 

The film: The superlative finale to Pixar's well-loved franchise, Toy Story 3 blends a snappy script and hair-raising action with an emotional finale that packs one hell of a wallop. Saying goodbye to one's childhood has never felt so heartbreaking. Sniff. 

3D enhancement: Seeing as the Toy Story universe is already entirely comprised of CGI, the addition of 3D adds a welcome layer of immersion to its cartoonish environs. A natural addition rather than a cynical cash-in. 

Most eye-popping scene: The 3D really comes into its own during the grand setpieces, and the incinerator sequence is even more harrowing when oblivion looms so imminently! 

Watch Toy Story 3 now on Amazon Prime Video 

2. Avatar (2009) 

The film: James Cameron revolutionised 3D cinema with this tree-hugging tale of the planet Pandora, and horrid old Earth's attempts to bleed her dry. While the story itself might drag slightly over the film's mammoth running time, Cameron's world is a breathtakingly immersive triumph of technology. Technology he had a significant hand in developing, lest we forget... 

3D enhancement: All of the scenes set on Pandora are enhanced no end by the 3D camerawork, with a genuine sense of depth taking precedence over the old "chuck an object into the audience" school of filmmaking. 

Most eye-popping scene: It has to be Jake's first flight aboard the back of a mountain Banshee. His exuberance at fulfilling a lifelong dream (of flying, not riding a banshee) translates into one of the most thrilling 3D sequences in living memory. 

Watch Avatar now on Amazon Prime Video 

1. Gravity (2013) 

The film: Alfonso Cuaron's blockbuster about Sandra Bullock floating around miserably in space took years (and all of the rendering power of the UK's CGI industry) to make. When it finally arrived it was a galaxy-sized hit and pulled in seven Oscars. 

3D enhancement: The film was already immersive enough, but the 3D boosted this to dizzying new levels. As Bullock tumbles through space, we're right there with her. The 3D was so effective, even critic Mark Kermode a man not usually known for his tolerance of stereoscopy urged viewers to stump up for that version over the 2D. 

Most eye-popping scene: The scene of satellite debris hurtling towards our heroes is breathtaking and terrifying. 

Watch Gravity now on Amazon Prime Video 

Gem Seddon
Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.