Avatar Mini Review and Thoughts on the 3D Craze

By Mike on 4:20 pm

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Avatar is said to be an industry changing movie; even revolutionizing the way movies are made. Is it? I don't think so. It's no more groundbreaking than James Cameron's other movies. I'd venture further and say Titanic was far more of a game changer given the massive scale of it, done without CGI for the most part. The story of Avatar also isn't what one would call original. Think Fern Gully or Disney's Pocahontas in the future. Without giving spoilers, lets just say it's the same old nature loving primitive folk (Giant Cat-Smurfs this time) up against the evil mining/forestry/oil/development corporation/military industrial conplex story that countless movies, books, and video games have been based on. About peace and harmony with the environment and so forth. There's a political side to it as well. The film heavily implies the Iraq War. Native Americans also spring to mind in a plot where alien invaders are pillaging their land for mercantile gains, without thought to those who already live there. The movie starts to feel preachy at times.

Negatives aside, I did enjoy the movie and I don't entirely agree with the Nostalgia Critic calling it lame. Everything was well done, well edited, and the CGI used was stunningly realistic. I think it's probably the first recent movie I've seen in a while that I sat through without looking at my watch once. It's certainly not boring. It's a good movie and you should definitely go see it if you have the chance.

Naturally, I watched the movie in 3D. This was the first 3D movies I've seen and I found it quite impressive rather than just being gimmicky. Cameron used it as a new depth of field rather than just having crap fly at you. Despite that, I found the RealD process really hurt my eyes and I had a killer headache when I got home. It reminds me of the bad old days when I used to game in front a low refresh CRT monitor. I also felt a little disorientated, though that may be the result of sitting uncomfortably for three hours in a bad seat. Eye problems are likely the result of the movie's frame rate being much lower than it should be. 24fps is too low for this style of cinema.

To the whole 3D trend in general, I'm seeing it as just a gimmick, especially 3DTV. There's going to be absolutely nobody supporting this technology beyond a handful of Blu-ray movies. Not many are going to replace their brand new HDTVs anytime soon. Television studios took over a decade to fully upgrade to HD and even today, many popular shows (such as CBC's The Hour) are still shot in standard definition. The problem? It's just to expensive to upgrade the equipment so soon. Plus, you need compatible editing software, bigger serves, and you have to retrain everyone to work in the new medium. ESPN and Discovery have announced 3D channels for the US. ESPN has the financial backing of the sports industry. The NFL has deep pockets and thus they get the best toys. Discovery can and will just show 3D IMAX movies. In the case of both, somebody else is footing the bill to air this content.

Gaming is also set to go 3D, which could be good or bad. Most likely disorientating. Virtual reality has never really caught on. Sony is working on making the PS3 3D compatible though I don't know how they'll do this. In previous 3D systems from nVidia, using glasses, performance was roughly halved using the technology.

3D may eventually come in but I think it will be at least a decade before we start seeing it replace conventional 2D video, if ever.

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