Last night in Austin at Fantastic Fest producer Jon Landau screened footage from Jim Cameron’s upcoming major motion picture Avatar. Having not managed to see the footage at Comic-Con in San Diego and having not made it to Avatar day either, I was obviously curious to see what all the fuss was about. So, with a packed house of over 200, I watched several scenes from the film. Some already screened and some never before shown.
Don’t worry, I won’t be doing a review of the film based on this footage — I’ll save that until I see the entire film. However, I will render a few opinions on the footage, characters, action and the 3-D process I did see. My opinion can be summed up in one word: interesting. I know that probably doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but if you’ve followed my opinion on 3-D on The Flickcast podcast or here at the site, you know I’m not really a fan of this 3-D resurgence.
That said, I can tell you that the 3-D of Avatar is probably the best I’ve ever seen. The effect is pretty seamless and Cameron obviously knows his way around the process. Some of the scenes on the planet Pandora, in particular one where Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as his Avatar has to tame a flying beast and bend its will so he can fly it, was outstanding. The sweeping vistas of Pandora, which would probably have looked great in 2-D, were made even more spectacular with the added third dimension.
Even exposition scenes, of which there were a few, benefited from the 3-D treatment. The final scenes, which came in a montage and included several battles, were also pretty great to watch. If there were any point during the screening when I was not enthralled with the scenes, it was pretty much whenever any character spoke or, in particular, when Jake delivered his voice over — which I hope is just temp and not in the final film.
Still, it was pretty to look at, which is a big part of the battle. And as I said, I’m going to review the film formally when I see the entire thing. So, for the moment, I’m reserving further comment on the story, characters, dialog and other things of that nature. What I am going to comment on is if seeing this footage has changed my mind about 3-D and am I excited to see Avatar. Let’s just say I’m interested.