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Obligatory Avatar Post
blaisepascal
Last night sheherazahde, skitten, and a friend went to see Avatar in 3D. No spoilers...

One of the common criticisms of Avatar is that the story is old, familiar, and oft retold. It's "Fern Gully", it's "Dances with Wolves", it's any one of the hundreds of films featuring an agent of the invaders going in amongst the natives, being accepted by them, switching sides and leading the natives to defeat the invaders. But that doesn't mean it wasn't told well. While the plot may be somewhat hackneyed, very little of the writing stuck out as poor.

The only characterization flaws I noticed particularly were that the two main bad-guys were unrelenting in their badness, with no redeeming social value amongst them. For a movie hyped for 3D, calling their characters 2D would be generous.

As others have stated, the world-building is excellent and richly detailed. The wide variety of plants and animals on Pandora made the place look real and lush, albeit alien. The same with the Na'vi; Their culture was somewhat well developed, and their physical movements were smooth and realistic, while their faces conveyed more subtlies of emotion than I think I've seen in CGI.

I think Cameron, by designing Pandora and the Na'vi the way he did, managed to sidestep the uncanny valley. By making the Na'vi blue with very detailed and highly expressive non-human faces, it avoids the visceral reaction of "that human ain't quite right".

The 3D was very impressive. It was present in almost every scene, but for the most part it wasn't intrusive. During one scene, I had a "Down in front!" reaction before I realized that the hands and arms blocking my view of the distant speaker were actually in the movie. There were very few "we did this to make people jump out of their seats" moments, except in the 3d trailers (I have no desire, intention, or willingness to see Pirhana 3D). The main effect of the 3D was to increase the sense of immersion in the world. It makes me more willing to watch 3d movies in the future. Technically, the 3d is done with alternating left/right images at 144fps (or 72fps per eye), so there was no flicker and the stereo separation was sharp and clear. Since they were using a single projector, there were no alignment problems between they eyes. I did notice that most of it had an exceptionally large depth of field, although they did play with that in a very early scene.

On that note. Anyone know of anything interesting to do with a pair of circularly polarized filters of opposite chirality?

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Your idea of no spoilers and my idea of no spoilers are not congruent.

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