Now I've got a confession: I've actually already seen 20 minutes of footage from Avatar, and I've got to say: believe the hype. It's pretty incredible. But while most of the footage in this trailer are from scenes I saw, it still doesn't do justice to what the movie is. That's because more than any other movie in recent memory, you really need to see this one on the big screen.
Biggest reason? Best use of 3-D ever. So far 3-D has either been just stuff jumping out at you like you're at an amusement park (the only purpose for Final Destination 3-D) or some pretty texturing that doesn't really justify the extra $4 you spend (I'm talking about you, Up). But Avatar goes so, so much further. It's actually taken 3-D to the point where it makes you feel like you're in the scene.
I'm not just talking about the obviously animated scenes, when it's all blue aliens in the jungle. I mean even in a normal training scene in a room full of humans. When there's an over the shoulder shot, you feel like that guy is right in front of you, and the guy behind him is right behind you. Once it does get to be all aliens, the 3-D even better immerses you into this new world.
The other issue with the trailer is that while it does show how great the digital animation is on all of these characters, there's a danger that it comes off looking like a video game with excellent graphics. I admit, when they first entered the jungle I had that reaction even onscreen at first. But once you've spent some time with them, you see the detail given to all the characters and realize what they've done has far surpassed any video game to date. Once you get used to the blue guys, they do start to seem real.
Beyond special effects, I'm most excited for Avatar because it still cares about telling a good story. It's been 12 years since Titanic, and watching the footage made me realize that the world needs another James Cameron movie. Avatar has this old-fashioned, epic-movie feel that even the biggest of blockbusters of recent years hasn't been able to accomplish. I'm talking like the feeling you had when you first saw Jurassic Park. You just know this is a big movie and one to savor.
So yes, I know what it's about, but I won't spoil all that yet. Those of you going to the free screenings today, you're in for a treat. For everyone else, start the countdown to Christmas for the full thing.