Monday, December 21, 2009

A Very Few Words

Speechless. I want to find the right words to review the experience of seeing Avatar in 3D, but I'm not sure there are any. I spent the first 15 or 20 minutes of the movie with my jaw dropped wide open, alternating between shivering and feeling like I was about to tear up. I've heard critics say that what James Cameron accomplished visually with this movie is the equivalent of when color or sound were added. Don't know if I'd go that far, but he has definitely changed the course of cinema forever.

All of the improvements in special effects in the last fifteen or so years, from Jurassic Park's CGI to The Lord of the Rings'/ Attack of the Clones' motion capture, were along the same continuum. We were watching advancements that made certain things that had been shown for years -- monsters, aliens -- look more realistic and that allowed the directors to show more complicated actions or even emotions (like in King Kong). Still, it was along the same path, each one slightly improving on the one before. With Avatar, Cameron has jumped a mile down the path. When you're watching it in 3D, you feel like you're in the movie. I am not exaggerating. Specifically in the sequences with only human actors (because of the better frame of reference than with the aliens), you feel like you are sitting in the room and the action is unfolding around you. The 3D not only adds to the depth of what Cameron gives you visually, it personalizes the movie-going experience. The audience disappears. It's just you and the action on the screen. It is an entirely new way of watching movies.

I feel like I started repeating myself and I still didn't get across the feeling of watching this movie. The story's fine, nothing special, but okay. The dialogue is a bit cheesy, but it's not horrible. The acting is pretty good, especially those doing the motion capture stuff. Whatever, someone will eventually take this new technology and make a better all-around movie, though this one is still pretty freaking good. Just go see it, go see it in 3D, and prepare to have your view of what's possible in cinema changed.

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