Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar: Not Just Any Old Movie

I remember going to the midnight showing of Jurassic Park back in 1993. As a fan of sci-fi in general, and sci-fi movies, I had a pretty good idea of what special effects were capable of. There's a scene in Jurassic Park with Sam Neill and the two children winding up in the middle of the stampede of dinosaurs. They take shelter on the near side of a fallen log and the stampede jumping over the log are coming down in the foreground. It was a composite shot unlike any I had ever seen before, and I sat there slack-jawed thinking, "they can't do that." Previously, most sci-fi monster movies resorted to having the actors in the foreground and animated monster in the background. Or split screen effect with the actors on one side, and the monster on the other. We'd finally come far enough with technology that composite shots like the one I saw were possible. I knew then the moviemaking would take a whole new direction.

Tonight, I saw moviemaking reached a new level. I went with my friend John to see Avatar at the eight o'clock show in IMAX 3-D. After the movie, as the crowd was clearing out, neither one of us could say word. We just sat there in astonishment. James Cameron has achieved a masterpiece. And I know that sounds trite, but only because the word "masterpiece" is insufficient to describe it. He has proven that it's now possible to show anything on screen that you can imagine.

James Cameron has created a world, not just some animated 3-D characters, or 3-D backgrounds. You fully believe this is a real world, populated by real people. There are real animals lurking behind every bush, and every thing you see on screen is alive.

Having seen it in IMAX 3-D, I heartily recommend that you don't see it any other way. If you opt for the cheaper tickets you're cheating yourself. Thankfully, Cameron had more sense than to waive the 3-D in our faces with gratuitous scenes of objects coming at you out of the screen. And because he doesn't, you naturally fall in step with the 3-D. It looks so normal, the way you experience ordinary reality. It is this understated use of the technology that makes it believable.

I can't say this strongly enough: Go See Avatar!

1 comment:

Val said...

AVATAR is tops on the "must see" list, thanks Kev.

A side note about 3D...
The last film seen in 3D, for me, was CORALINE. I marveled at the technology and thoroughly enjoyed it, yet I found myself physically exhausted from eyestrain. It may just be me, but it's a bit taxing to have to continually focus in that manner. So, the thought of 2 hours, 40 min. at the task... I may opt for 2D.