I will be the first person to admit, that before Avatar’s premiere, I thought for sure it would flop harder than You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Granted, I didn’t have a whole lot to judge the movie on other than that damn Coke-Zero commercial, but there’s just not a whole lot about blue, giant-arrow-shooting, cat-people that I find particularly interesting. With the commercial’s odd looking creatures and large mechanized flying machines, I just saw Avatar as a sequel to all the worst parts (Jar Jar Binks) of The Phantom Menace shoved together. I had assumed that director James Cameron’s “revolutionary” 3D technique was just a gimmick, and I wasn’t about to put on goofy headache-inducing red and blue glasses to watch a glorified 3D movie that belongs at Six Flags.
My entire attitude changed one I read this review, and suddenly I was open to checking it out. My buddy found tickets for about $15 at a relatively close IMAX theater, so we decided to go see it on opening night. The “IMAX Experience” thick-rimmed glasses we received at the door weren’t red and blue, but still made everyone look like Harry Caray. At first, I was pretty disappointed in them (and at Gizmodo for writing such a persuasive review of the 3D technology) when the IMAX in 3D advertisement ran, only to find out shortly that the 3D advertisement was inexplicably shown in plain old 2D! This was realized just as the movie began, as the true 3D effect was completely unmistakable!
It was like nothing I’d ever seen before!* The CG was absolutely incredible! If it weren’t for the super advanced electronics, un-natural fauna and flora, and 8 foot tall blue cat people, I would have had a hard time figuring out which scenes were filmed and which were computer generated! I remember one scene vividly that made me feel uncomfortable. The depth in the shot was so extreme, my instinctual fear of heights made me clench both arm rests next to me!
Ignoring the monumental 3D aspect of the movie for a moment, I’m not sure how well the story would appeal to a wide range of audiences. For example, I’m a huge science fiction fan (and Fern Gully fan, for which most of the movie seems inspired by), but I’m not sure how much I would enjoy the almost 3 hour long movie if I had seen it in 2D. Several scenes seem relatively unimportant, but what’s there to complain about? They’re in freaking three dimensions! I can’t help but wonder though, if the appeal of this movie is simply due to the fact that it’s technologically the first of its kind. 20 years down the line, when 3D movies are mainstream, will Avatar be considered amongst the best?
It’s for those reasons that I wouldn’t recommend anyone see this outside of a 3D IMAX theater. If you do have the means to catch it in all its technological glory, certainly make a point to. Just remember, watching Avatar in 2D would be like buying a Corvette with an automatic transmission; you’d be missing the entire point.
*Not technically true, since I see things in 3D on pretty much a daily basis.