Archive

Posts Tagged ‘avatar’

Avatar in IMAX 3D. Go see it.

December 30th, 2009 No comments

avatar

So today was Avatar day.  The fiancee, kids and I took in the 3:40 IMAX showing of James Cameron’s latest epic at a nearby megaplex.  I have to admit that I was not having the greatest of expectations for the movie, though I’d studiously avoided all reviews, critics, discussions, and associations with the movie to keep myself pure.  And of course I had to see the 3D version, because there was no way I was going to sit through a 2.5 hour standard movie.
We got to the theatre about 40 minutes ahead of showtime to find a rather large line.  But we only waited about 10 minutes before they let us in, and we got pretty good seats near the middle of the screen, in the row right before the dropoff to the next lower level.  I’m not sure if you’re aware but there are seats in an IMAX theatre that are useless for movie watching, and the number of bad seats increases for 3D movies.  In general, if you’re in the lower levels and on the outer ends the rows, you should probably just leave and get tickets for a less crowded showing.  This becomes critical for movies that Avatar is going to spawn because of how Cameron does 3D (more on that later).  I’m sure if you google “bad Avatar 3D seats” or some such, you’ll find plenty of articles talking about the details.  I personally have a rule that I will not sit below the midline of an IMAX movie, and for 3D movies, that rule has been amended to not sit below the midline or towards the ends of any rows.
So enough preamble – how was the movie?  In a word, amazing.  The glasses were uncomfortable at first but you get used to them really fast.  And after a bit, they disappear and you immerse into the screen.  The 3D is incredible.  Not the popout type of 3D, mind you.  That whole market has just been effectively rendered dead by Avatar.  No, this 3D was more about general depth.  There was a distinct difference between the foreground and the background, and the focus had a sense of being in front of the screen, almost as if it were being extruded from the screen itself.  It’s a horrible way to describe the experience.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly urge you to see the IMAX version.  Even if you have seen the regular version, go and see the IMAX one.  I’d be pretty curious to know if you thought the movie was a deeper experience because of the 3D or no.  I can’t imagine seeing this moving in a flat version now, and quite frankly it’s going to color my decision to buy the DVD.  The 3D was that good, and because it ran through the entire movie, there were no real “gotcha” moments where arrows leap off the screen or animals jump out at you.  The only times I saw anything like those types of moments were in a few scenes where ash or insects were flying around the characters – they appeared to be in midair, and seemed so natural that you almost wanted to brush them away.
I am not sure that Avatar will make a billion dollars like Titanic did.  But it will make a mint, and there will be sequels.  I’m not really looking forward to those, because the story is not anything to write home about.  But what I am certain of is that Cameron as a visual pioneer has raised the bar on immersive movie experiences and Avatar will now be the starting point for a whole new generation of movies that blend 3D into cinematography as a natural extension of filmmaking rather than as a gimmick.  My kids are going to be a bridge generation between flat screen films and true 3D, and their kids will probably grow up never knowing what a 2D film really was like.  Few people are able to advance an industry overnight.  With Avatar, Cameron joins the ranks of those few.  Absolutely amazing.

So today was Avatar day.  The fiancee, kids and I took in the 3:40 IMAX showing of James Cameron’s latest epic at a nearby megaplex.  I have to admit that I was not having the greatest of expectations for the movie, though I’d studiously avoided all reviews, critics, discussions, and associations with the movie to keep myself pure.  And of course I had to see the 3D version, because there was no way I was going to sit through a 2.5 hour standard movie.

We got to the theatre about 40 minutes ahead of showtime to find a rather large line.  But we only waited about 10 minutes before they let us in, and we got pretty good seats near the middle of the screen, in the row right before the dropoff to the next lower level.  I’m not sure if you’re aware but there are seats in an IMAX theatre that are useless for movie watching, and the number of bad seats increases for 3D movies.  In general, if you’re in the lower levels and on the outer ends the rows, you should probably just leave and get tickets for a less crowded showing.  This becomes critical for movies that Avatar is going to spawn because of how Cameron does 3D (more on that later).  I’m sure if you google “bad Avatar 3D seats” or some such, you’ll find plenty of articles talking about the details.  I personally have a rule that I will not sit below the midline of an IMAX movie, and for 3D movies, that rule has been amended to not sit below the midline or towards the ends of any rows.

So enough preamble – how was the movie?  In a word, amazing.  The glasses were uncomfortable at first but you get used to them really fast.  And after a bit, they disappear and you immerse into the screen.  The 3D is incredible.  Not the popout type of 3D, mind you.  That whole market has just been effectively rendered dead by Avatar.  No, this 3D was more about general depth.  There was a distinct difference between the foreground and the background, and the focus had a sense of being in front of the screen, almost as if it were being extruded from the screen itself.  And because Cameron doesn’t rely on the popout type of 3D, it means that you can’t focus on the background or you’ll get a migraine.  Flat movies can use an in-focus background to add depth to a scene or to shift attention.  If you remember Speed Racer, one of its signature visuals was that everything was in focus simultaneously, both foreground and background.  Avatar is different.  You have to look at what Cameron wants you to look at because if you don’t, the background won’t come into complete focus and it will give you a headache.  The few times I felt the most vertigo was when I was trying to pick out details in the scenery rather than watching the characters currently in focus.  That is a darn shame, because the visuals of the planetary ecology are just incredible and you want to see all the detail.  That may be the main advantage to the 2D version – you can catch more of the side stuff.

If you haven’t seen Avatar yet, I strongly urge you to see the IMAX version.  Even if you have seen the regular version, go and see the IMAX one.  I’d be pretty curious to know if you thought the movie was a deeper experience because of the 3D.  I can’t imagine seeing this moving in a flat version now, and quite frankly it’s going to color my decision to buy the DVD (Blu-ray of course).  The 3D was that good, and because it ran through the entire movie, there were no real “gotcha” moments where arrows leap off the screen or animals jump out at you.  The only times I saw anything like those types of moments were in a few scenes where ash or insects were flying around the characters – they appeared to be in midair, and seemed so natural that you almost wanted to brush them away.  I am not sure that Avatar will make a billion dollars like Titanic did.  But it will make a mint, and there will be sequels.  I’m not really looking forward to those, because the story is not anything to write home about.  But what I am certain of is that Cameron as a visual pioneer has raised the bar on immersive movie experiences and Avatar will now be the starting point for a whole new generation of movies that blend 3D into cinematography as a natural extension of filmmaking rather than as a gimmick.  My kids are going to be a bridge generation between flat screen films and true 3D, and their kids will probably grow up never knowing what a 2D film really was like.  Few people are able to advance an industry overnight.  With Avatar, Cameron joins the ranks of those few.  Absolutely amazing.

Official Teaser Trailer for Avatar

August 22nd, 2009 1 comment

OK I am not a James Cameron fan by any means but this movie looks freakin’ amazing. I’d watch it in 2D. How it’s going to work out in 3D, though….if he can pull this off, it will change movie making.

Categories: Editorial Tags: ,