I have a friend who loves telling the story of when he first saw Star Wars. To summarise – as a boy he travelled with his family to the cinema and after 2 hours of the film, he came out of that building a man. According to him, what he experienced that day in that darkened room was a unique and breath-taking experience.
I ridiculed him for many years until James Cameron dropped what I believe to be one of the greatest films of all time in 2009.
Today, people scoff at Avatar and in some ways I understand why they do so. Take the film away from the 3D cinema screen and it depletes in quality – it doesn’t translate very well to the living room.
As a story piece, Avatar doesn’t stand-up straight to scrutiny simply because the plot is very basic. There are no real surprises in the narrative and the story plays out exactly how you expect it to.
But all of this doesn’t take away the memory of the first time I watched Avatar in the cinema. I now know exactly how my friend felt when he experienced Star Wars – Avatar blew me away. As an experience, nothing has come close to beating that film.
The problem with most 3D films is that they usually fall into two camps – the first is where you forget that you are watching a 3D film (Toy Story 3) and the other is where so many things are popping out at you that you feel sick (Men in Black 3) – Avatar is the only film I’ve seen that finds a middle ground.. Also, most 3D films feel like they have to bring the action into our world, what Avatar showed is that it is far more important to make the audience feel like they’re inside the film.
Take the first time Jack (Sam Worthington) explores the wilderness of Pandora with its alien vegetation and revolving flowers. That whole segment was akin to the first time I discovered porn – I had no idea what was happening but everything about it was unbelievably pleasurable to me. More to the point, I felt like I was experiencing that moment along side Jack – that I was somehow in Pandora. When the butterfly looking things land on Jack in the same film, I remember how my jaw dropped on the floor – I had simply not seen anything like it before in my life.
I feel the negative reputation that Avatar has developed over the past couple of years stems from the fact that people have forgotten how that film felt like inside the cinema. For me it was a complete and utter joy to watch and I’m personally considering buying a new 3D television just so I can get that same high I felt back in 2009.