Counting my trip to Cinemark RealD 3D XD theater last week to watch the Special Edition on opening night, I have now seen Avatar 7 times in RealD 3D XD. I also have it in Blu-Ray and have watched it once on my smallish 32" Samsung 720p TV, with a very good traditional Yamaha/ Bang and Olufsen sound system. I'll comment on the 3D experience in a moment, first allow me to rave about the movie. Let me preface my raving by stating the obvious - how one rates a movie is largely subjective and depends on personal taste, but there are objective aspects also.The Avatar Review:
The ONLY thing I did not like about it was the over-the-top evil capitalist theme. This coming from Cameron, who is the ultimate uber-capitalist!
That having been said, after seven trips and hundreds of dollars for tickets and munchies
, I still consider it the best movie ever made. Not just the best sci-fi flick, the best movie. I don't lightly give it that rating.
It's a love story, an epic war movie, a sci-fi extravaganza. It has nearly perfect dialog, the pacing is flawless, each scene flows into the next. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh, it makes me smile ear-to-ear until my face hurts. I *never* fail to get continuous tingles during the "Tame the Ikran and fly!" scenes. When Jake and Neytiri fly together I'm am literally moved to tears - *each* time I go. Perhaps my love of flying has something to do with it (I am a private pilot), or my love of mountaineering and rock-climbing.
When Grace dies, the flow into the "lets kick ass" speech to the Navi is perfect. Quaritch is the *perfect* tough, hard-to-kill, sociopathic military bastard, the role is flawlessly acted. Only Papa Dragon would have the courage to not give up when his ship in crashing in flames, get into a suit and jump free, land and get back to the business of hunting Jake - PISSED off and looking for blood.
The film is filled with great little touches like the way Proxima Centauri shows up in one beautiful shot of the cobalt morning sky - small, red and distant. The shadows of the moons on the gas giant line up correctly. The red-glow of the heat-exchangers on the Venture Star, hot from the deceleration from .8c. The way 3D is everywhere in the world of the future - the pictures on the 'fridge, the computer displays, all are 3D. (Anyone who only sees the movie on 2D Blu-Ray would never notice that.) I could go on and on. I bet that anyone like me who is a total sci-fi nut with thousands of volumes of books will see the depth of the research that went into the flick.
The new footage, for the most part, makes the movie better. The Tsu'tey death scene also made me tear-up, and the new "hunt from the air" shots were great and made some of the original flying scenes make more sense. I also liked the quick shots of the results of the Navi attacks on the 'dozers - that pointed up how worried the Earthers had a right to be. I only wish the new version had shown Jake hooking up again with his original Ikran after Toruk is set free. I told a friend who is also an Avatar fan that the new version made the love scene X-rated - he scornfully exclaimed "they did not!", but I told him I was not lying, it was X-rated if you were a Navi watching, but not if you are human!
And the music! By itself, it is not super-great. but when coupled with the movie, the resulting art is very, very powerful.The Theater Experience:
As I mentioned, I've only seen it in Cinemark RealD 3D on the huge XD screen, with the Christie DLP system.
The surround-sound in the XD theaters is fabulous. The volume is literally deafening, but I use my Etymotics Research Er-20 Hi Fidelity earplugs http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er20.aspx
and the result is a comfortable experience for my ears, allowing me to enjoy the chest-pounding bass of the explosions sans pain. Sounds come from all directions in the theater, perfectly coordinated with the action.
As an amateur astronomer, I am a total nut when it comes to focus and clarity. back in the days of film projectors, I would be constantly banging on the door of the projection booth, demanding a re-focus. For Avatar in XD, the focus and clarity was flawless. I always sat in the precise center spot in the theater, with my head positioned along a line normal to the exact center of the screen. There was zero motion blur, no artifacts of any kind. I have to wear the 3D-glasses over my eyeglasses ( I am slightly nearsighted and only wear the eyeglasses at movies, which gives you an idea of how obsessed I am about movie focus.) Yes, the glasses make things seem a bit dim, but by the time the trailers for the other 3D movies were over and Avatar started, I was fully adjusted. Color depth was excellent, and I never saw any pixelation. No headaches or eyestrain.
In addition to the "depth" effect of looking into the screen, there is also plenty of "things between the screen and my face" - falling ash, insects, the heads of the troops and the Navi when they are gathered in groups.
I was going to go again tonight, but to my horror "Machete" had bumped Avatar from the XD screen! NOOOOOO!
Now, all that is available is RealD 3D on the smallest screen in the Cinemark theater, projected from a Barco DP2K-32B. I fumed for a while. I googled around looking, but the closest IMAX 3D theater is in Phoenix, 500 miles away. Too Far. Then I found some threads on AVS, and decided that I could do a service by going tomorrow and watching it on the Barco DP2K-32B and then posting my critique. After all, it still has to be at least a little better than Blu-Ray at home.
I do have one question. In the XD theater and on my Blu-Ray disc, the screen ratio is 16:9. But, I also saw a NetFlix trailer of Avatar (on my Samsung BD-P1580 ) that seemed to be in Scope 2.35:1 ratio. Any comments on this most welcome!