I had my doubts. Could James Cameron possibly be successful blending sci-fi, environmental/political commentary with Steroescopic filmmaking? Seemed like a stretch.
But let's look at the track record.
Terminator 1 - made most other sci-fi/action films of the 80's look cheesy.
Aliens - a sequel better than the original, especially in the sci-fi genre is quite a feat.
Terminator 2 - proved that technology can in fact enhance a story.
True Lies - Combined action, comedy and effects in the practical real-world.
Titanic - say what you will about the contrived romance sub plot, this movie set the new standard for realism and epic storytelling, disasters or not.
Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I checked Google and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Hicksville, USA actually has a Real-D theater, just a few minutes from home. I went down to the mall, $9.50 in hand, only to find that the 3pm show was sold out. Not since Return of the Jedi's opening weekend have I been unable to get a movie ticket.
So I patiently awaited noon today, paid the extra 2 bucks for an advance ticket, and found my spot in the theater's sweet spot. From the opening 20th Century Fox logo in 3D I knew I was in for a treat. The opening shot of the inside of the star ship, as the marines are coming out of hibernation, was all I needed to see to know that Cameron had hit the mark. Because those eyeballs floating 2 feet in front of my face were no 3D effect - those were my own eyeballs. From the very first frame I was having a religious experience.
Even without the stereoscopic photography I believe the movie holds its own as a new classic action/sci-fi adventure. But what was so amazing about the 3D was that it was used in a nuanced, subtle way. Once my brain got used to it, I had to remind myself that was not how movies were supposed to look. But the sound design, such as of the flying swarms of insects in the forest, are just as important as the sense of depth. In fact many of the 3D elements are out of focus in the deep foreground of cinema's classic shallow depth of field. Rather than wanting to reach out and touch an object floating in front of you, you feel like you are immersed deeper into the scene.
I feel like I just spent 2.5 hours in Pandora interacting with real life forms. The environments, skin, hair, creatures, weather, weapons and yes even the humans, all fit together in a realistic puzzle - blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
I'm sold. Avatar is a masterpiece.
Run, don't walk, to a 3D theater near you.
Seeing the making of is almost as cool as the movie itself:
Posted by: Mike Cohen on Dec 27, 2009 at 2:04:12 pm
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