I don’t usually do film reviews on my blog and in a way I’m still not, but on Wednesday the 6th of January 2010 at 5:40pm I went and saw James Cameron’s Avatar on the UKs biggest screen at the BFI IMAX. My experience was so intense that I just felt that I should share it with everyone, and show that this film isn’t about 3D and CGI, it is about the story.
I’d not been to an IMAX theatre before so it was a very exciting experience for me, I got some great seats which I’d booked a couple of months in advance and had to travel to London in order to see it on the biggest screen in the UK. I spent in total about £60 to go and see this film and it was worth every penny.
We watched the trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland before, which was also in 3D and I thought, “Wow! This is amazing, the screen is so massive. ” But it wasn’t really any different to any other 3D film I’d seen. And then Avatar started.
As soon as the film started I just started crying, and must have continued to cry for about 30 minutes. They were tears of complete happiness at the beauty of the film and how real it was.
I’ve seen 3D films before, but they never really looked 3D. The animated ones didn’t really need to be in 3D because they practically looked and felt the same, and some of them I would have preferred to have watched in 2D. And the live action films just looked as though there were some actors stood in front of a green screen and on the green screen was the rest of the film. It didn’t look like it flowed in terms of depth, more like it had layers.
Avatar flowed beautifully. I felt as though I could just put my arm inside the film, or that I could actually step inside it. In some way Avatar looked more 3D than real life, due I think simply to differences in the way our eyes work and the camera works.
After I stopped crying and noticing the 3D, I just sunk right into it. Pretty much everyone seems to think that when I say Avatar was amazing then I just talk about the 3D and the CGI, but I’m not. They are simply tools of the film maker to make the story more real. I loved the story. I thought it was like Pocahuntas meets The Matrix, and whilst it might not have been that original in terms of the story being told before, it was certainly original in the way it was told.
Now a days it’s pretty impossible to come up with a brand new story, because they’ve all been told in some way or another. The last few months I’ve been falling more and more out of love with films. I used to love them, but then I realised that in 2009 I’d not really seen a film that I loved in every way. I’d seen good films, don’t get me wrong, Harry Brown is an amazing film, but it’s not the kind of film that made me think this is the film I’ve been waiting for, and to be honest it’s been like this for me for the last few years. I was really looking forward to The Dark Knight last year, and then it came out and I thought, there were definitely amazing bits in it, but it also had quite boring parts, and what I thought was out of place comedy, and not the kind you laugh out loud to.
Avatar has reignited that love of film for me. When the Na’Vi faced genocide in the film and Jake (Sam Worthington) flew in to rescue them and stand with them, making his big speech, I was just filled with emotion. As soon as he flew in I started crying and as he walked up to make his speech I got this feeling inside that I’ve only ever felt once, and that was when I saw my grandfathers dead body lying in his coffin when I was about 14 or 15. I just felt completely overwhelmed and hollow. It doesn’t sound like a particularly nice feeling and it wasn’t. But that fact that a film could make me feel like this just astounded me. The feeling stayed there until Jake began his speech and then the feeling slowly turned to hope and I literally felt like the Na’Vi. As though I was fighting for my survival, and for the survival of my people.
The only film that has come close to this amount of emotion for me was United 93. The last 5 minutes of the film are so emotional and horrific that I was balling my eyes out, less with sadness and more with fear. It was after the film that I felt sad, and cried for what must have been 30 minutes after the film had finished.
But Avatar was so much more intense, I almost film like I couldn’t handle it. And if I was the only one in the cinema then I probably wouldn’t have been able to, and would have let myself go to my limit.
So you can see how this film is so much more than just a film to me. The reason I was taken to this emotional place was because I felt like part of the story. The music encouraged me to feel this way as well, and I get chills just from listening to the Avatar soundtrack. But whilst music might provide a lot of the emotion in films, I felt that with this film what pushed the emotion even further was the 3D and the CGI.
With all the great films I don’t feel like I’m watching a film, I feel part of it. However, I still always know in the back of my mind that I’m watching a film. With Avatar I wasn’t watching a film, and after the film finished I had to remind me that it was a film that I just watched and that it wasn’t real, because throughout the film my mind was telling me that it was real and that I was witnessing real life. I left my body in the cinema and went to Pandora. For me the events in Avatar were real, and I was there to witness them.