December 21, 2009
Humble pie rarely tastes as sweet as it did this afternoon at my local megaplex, Avatar was incredible. I finally get what James Cameron was talking about way back in 2006 when he argued that 3D movies would bring audiences to digital theaters in greater numbers. While the actual numbers for Avatars opening weekend are still being tabulated, I now see (literally) that 3D can indeed play an important role in the future of filmmaking.
Hearing the hype surrounding Avatar for all these months, I have to admit I was dubious at best, biased at worst, against the film but within the first 10 minutes or so I was already at ease with the 3D effects. Avatar in my estimation is a generational leap forward in quality versus what I saw with Beowulf. Gone were the cheesy nose tickles and headache inducing motion artifacts. This was just clean, smooth, artifact free movie-going goodness.
Here’s the funny thing, even though I’m willing to eat a little crow here and admit that the technology behind Avatar has made me a believer, my main critique of 3D films thus far was the real surprise of Avatar, namely the story. Like I said back in 2006 without a great story 3D is just goofy gimmicks, luckily Avatar would have worked on its own, 3D or not. Sure some may draw parallels between the plot and other films but the theme here is timeless. What was new however was the level of detail put into making Pandora a living, breathing world.
From the trailers I was somewhat apprehensive about the Na’vi (the blue, indigenous people of Pandora). For some reason I kept imagining this guy, but luckily my association couldn’t have been more off. Neytiri’s character was a standout in my opinion; Zoë Saldañas work was top notch as usual. There was definitely a more human “feel” to the film even if that’s about the worst word possible to use, considering the subject matter.
That’s not to say the 3D wasn’t great, it was. I can honestly say the scenes where Neytiri and Jake are exploring the jungle elicited the same response I felt as a child watching Disney films, pure wonder. I think Avatar will ultimately live up to the hype and go on to be an important film in the evolution of 3D cinema. Not necessarily because the 3D was so far ahead of the competition but because the technology was used to complement the story, not the other way around.