Last week I heard lots said about James Cameron’s new film, Avatar. In several publicity spots, on TV and in the printed press, members of the cast and crew as well as Mr. Cameron himself have been talking at length about the film’s use of 3D technology and how important this event is for the media of film. I wasn’t convinced. I had seen some advertisements for the film and I couldn’t escape the billboards everywhere with 20-foot high blue faces, but something about the publicity drive made me suspect that I would be disappointed if and when I went to see it.
On Friday night I took my fiancée out for a meal and, afterwards, to the cinema. As it happened, Avatar 3D was the next film showing; we paid for our tickets as well as an extra £3 for the 3D glasses then took our seats. I had an underlying sense of cynicism about the whole thing because of the hype that I had been subjected to in the week before and was not expecting very much. I was, in fact, prepared to be thoroughly disappointed. I could not have been more wrong and I have eaten a healthy portion of humble pie.
The 3D experience is awesome. Getting used to watching something that makes you feel like you are in the room with the action was one of the most absorbing experiences I have had in quite some time. Quite apart from the storyline, which is compelling if somewhat predictable after a time, the visual effects are quite simply breathtaking. Cameron has produced a visually spectacular masterpiece and it will, I’m sure, influence how movies are made in the future. With the 3D technology used so sublimely in Avatar, the film industry has a new benchmark with which to compare all future big releases. Cameron’s stroke of genius in the movie was not to let the 3D aspect drive the movie, but rather to fill it out and add, for want of a better phrase, a new dimension to the film. Avatar can be seen in standard 2D format, but viewers would miss out on the whole experience that comes with 3D.
The storyline keeps the viewer interested and you do genuinely care about what happens to the characters. Its futuristic plot thinly veils the underlying themes of the movie, climate change, destruction of habitat and the arrogance of the human race, all of which are hot topics at present. The CGI is almost seamless and despite the alien landscape, creatures and environment it is rare, throughout the film, to spot anything that looks fake or out of place.
Avatar has made me acutely aware of the move to 3D technology in entertainment. Sky TV in the UK has announced it is launching 3D TV in 2010 and I am sure it won’t be long before more movies, TV programs and the games industry follow in the footsteps of Mr. Cameron and his 3D pioneering predecessors. The cherry on the top was that my fiancée enjoyed it too, which is surprising as Sci-fi isn’t ordinarily her first choice. My thanks go out to Mr Cameron.