2 January 2010

Feasting on Avatar in 3D

I do not tend to go to the cinema that often but it is the holiday season and Avatar 3D is on so it seemed like a good way to spend a Saturday evening. Preceded by the usual visit to Pizza Express, of course.

Apart from the graphics I was not sure what to expect. What Avatar delivers in spades is a visual feast with just enough of a plot, simple and obvious though it is, to hang it all together for a thrilling two and a half hours.

The CGI is stunning, so much so that I was not sure at times if we were looking at real faces or computer generated ones.

But if the faces were good then the scenery and animals were even better.

The alien flora and fauna reminded me of the alien worlds that sprung from Philip Jose Farmer's fertile imagination, and that's a compliment to the creative minds that devised them.

The landscapes were also fantastic but floating mountains and large stone archways reminded me of Roger Dean's fantasy art that adorns many of my favourite albums for the 1970s when prog rock ruled (and rightly so).

I've shown here just a couple of examples of Roger Dean's work that are similar to scenes in Avatar but there are twenty eight examples at io9.com.

Roger Dean's own website also recognises the issue without making a direct comment; it simply suggests that you do a google search for "avatar roger dean" and draw your own conclusion. I'm convinced.

I'm less convinced about the 3D. There were no spears thrown into the audience or other such extreme effects but there did seem to be a greater depth to the image and some objects, such as the airborne seeds, did seem to hover above the audience.

I will just have to watch it in 2D next time to spot the differences. Hopefully they will not be that big otherwise I'll be forced to buy a 3D home entertainment system before too long!

But, the minor quibbles do not detract from what is a great cinematic experience. Avatar 3D has set a new standard for visual impact and I am delighted that I have had the opportunity to savour it.

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