There’s a problem with Avatar – watch it in 3D and you will be absorbed in that world to such an extent that, 160 minutes later, the plug will be pulled. You will be unceremoniously dumped back into a reality of an icey, colourless winter’s day. The warmth and vitality of Pandora will be missed along with its blues and greens and reds.
The 3D effects of Avatar are truly breathtaking. I may have been sitting in a theatre seat, but I was ducking, gasping and holding on as the Na’vi ran high in trees many hundreds of feet tall, or as they soared around floating mountains on their winged mounts. I felt vertigo, you could feel the connection with what was taking place before you and around you. We are immersed in James Cameron’s vision – with its hundreds of exotic creatures, some frightening, its sentient plants and the Na’vi themselves. What can I possibly say about the beautiful, fearless and soulful Na’vi? They are fully realised, right down to their real language, developed by Cameron over two years.
Pandora is what I will remember about Avatar. I’ve never seen anything like it before. By contrast, the plot and the human characters didn’t feel particularly original – but then what wouln’t suffer by comparison with Pandora? I enjoyed Sigourney Weaver’s Grace and Sam Worthington’s hero Jake Sully, but the colonel was a stereotype right down to the scars across his head and his refusal to die – gravity, poisonous air, fire, monsters do little to distract him from his single purpose. The suit in charge of the project was even less believable and even more cliched. But when this world and Pandora reaches their climactic battle, every second was edge-of-the-seat intense and much can be forgiven due to the sheer beauty and scale of this vision.
Avatar is overwhelming and that is its significance for me. I can’t help but wonder how that significance will endure when removed from a 3D screen. In 2D or on a television set it would be impossible for it to achieve the same impact and then the simplistic touches might become more noticeable, and the moral and political messages too.
I rather liked, though, how the environmental message was put across – with all living things interconnected with some kind of electric force into which everything can tap and draw strength from if the heart is good. It was also a joy to learn about this Pandora world through the experiences of Jake and his beautiful Na’vi tutor and mate Neytiri. Her growing love for him is touching – delicate and strong.
Go and see Avatar but see it in 3D. Sit back and let it in.