Avatar: telling an old story in a new way

We went and saw Avatar yesterday, the film that’s getting a lot of attention for a variety of reasons since its release on December 17: the amazing digital effects, the dramatic and epic scale of the story, the $400 million budget, the groundbreaking 3D version.

We saw it in 3D at Cineworld Brighton, a multiplex almost right on the seafront (not a fun experience getting there on a freezing windy December evening) at the Brighton Marina.

But it was unquestionably worth the trip. It’s a long film – with ads and other movie previews as well as the film itself, it meant we sat through a programme that’s almost 3 hours in length.

And what a treat this film is in its telling of a timeless story of love, conflict, struggle, passion, power, and ultimate triumph: all those elements that form part of the human condition. That the story unfolds at a time in the future on a different planet (I nearly said “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”) simply adds layers to the deep dimension of what you see and hear on the cinema screen and, in my view, takes nothing away at all from what the story is actually about (see the human condition I just mentioned).

And consider this: much of the film is computer-generated. I simply could not tell what was CGI and what wasn’t.

Watching it in 3D is a phenomenal experience. If you’ve watched a 3D movie before with those cardboard glasses with each plastic lens in a different colour, and where it almost hurts your eyes trying to focus, this is nothing like that at all.

The glasses today are very different. For Avatar, the glasses are from RealD, the company whose technology underpins the three-dimensional aspect of the movie and who makes the 3D glasses you purchase (inexpensive: 80p).

Is it worth you going to see Avatar? Well, if you enjoy a good story, yes. If you want an immersive experience via 3D, yes. If you want to be wowed by the assault on your senses in scale and scope of what you see and hear, yes. And if you want to come away from a movie that provokes thoughts about what you’ve experienced long after the event, yes.

Here’s a taster, the latest preview trailer:

I want to see it again and I will.

I had exactly the same reaction after seeing the premier of the original Star Wars when it opened in 1977. And I will buy the DVD when it comes out, or maybe the digital download. Which leads me to wonder what technology will come to bear on this: how will 3D work for DVD sales? Will those DVDs play on current TVs and computers or will you have to buy something new?

Answers to such questions undoubtedly to come.

Is this a milestone in the further welding of clever tech with old-fashioned story-telling? That one’s easy: yes.

Go and enjoy it.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Jake

    The film looks absolutely amazing – I haven’t seen it yet, but I want to! In our town we don’t have a iMax3D, so I’ll be traveling far and wide to find one – just to see this film!

  2. Dan Smith

    It’s certainly visually spectacular and enthralling, with some beautifully realised and fairly convincing 3D interfaces. In partial answer to your DVD speculations, see:

    3D high-def movies coming to your living room on Blu-ray
    “…the Blu-ray Disc Association has finalized a specification for delivering full 1080p high definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray discs. The format relies on an extension to the H.264 encoding standard, and provides for a fallback to 2D output on players that can’t decode the separate stereoscopic images.”

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