Avatar - setting the bench mark for modern special effects
Probably the biggest 3D film Hollywood has shown us yet is Avatar. It undoubtedly set the benchmark for 3D films to follow, providing viewers with a wild and visually spectacular three-dimensional world. Ok, so the plot is far from innovative, in fact there are a number of films that have exactly the same formula. 'Dances with Wolves', 'Pocahontas' and 'Fern Gully' are just a few of them. However, the plot is not what makes this film worth watching; in fact it seems that Cameron almost makes a mockery of the fact that it follows a predictable formula. All of the 'bad guy' characters are ridiculously over the top and the precious mineral that they seek is called 'Unobtainium'. What really makes this film worth watching are the stunning visual effects that are achieved with new and innovative technology.
James Cameron didn't just shoot the film in 3D, he redefined how 3D technology could be used. He left behind the gimmicky 'comin' at ya' gags and developed the technology that instead enhanced the immersive depth of the image. Although we are only now seeing 3D TV's becoming available to consumers, Avatar was perfectly timed to give audiences a sneak preview of what they simply wouldn't get at home. This is why the film was so successful, because it was so visually spectacular people did not wait for it on DVD, in fact some viewers went to the cinema to see it more than once while the theatrical window was open.
Furthermore, Cameron successfully found a method for CGI that overcame the "Uncanny Valley" effect that had previously prevented CGI characters from achieving photorealism. If you look into the eyes of the Na'vi of Avatar they look convincingly real, like living beings, both on their own and in their interactions with other characters or actors. The environment that is created for Pandora is truly stunning, much of it is derivative of many fantasy novels, computer games and anime, however the way in which Cameron presents it is unquestionably unique. From the luminescent foliage to the tiniest alien details seen in every frame, it is clear that the creator of this world has put an enormous amount of thought into it.
Finally, the action scenes in this film have also been executed perfectly. The flawless choreography combined with amazing special effects puts the audience on the edge of their seat. This is a refreshing relief from the 'shaky camera' craze that has dominated Hollywood films in the last few years.