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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Avatar’ doesn’t really need IMAX, it turns out

So, I saw Avatar again this weekend, this time in IMAX 3D — the press screening I attended a few weeks ago was in 3D but not IMAX, and it was fascinating to note the difference.

And the difference is… not much, actually. What makes Avatar so unique, so absorbing, and so absolutely must-see on a big screen is the 3D, which truly does draw you in and make you feel as if you’re really on Pandora. Of course, you could put down the fact that I was not totally blown away by the film in IMAX to the fact that I’d already been blown away by it the first time around, and so perhaps some of the surprise of the experience was lessened merely because it was my second journey to Pandora.

But, on the other hand, I didn’t find the experience diminished by IMAX, either. It’s just that I felt immersed to precisely the same degree as I did when I saw the film in non-IMAX 3D.

I’m curious to hear from others who’ve seen the film in both formats whether you have a preference.



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  • JoshDM

    I became an Avatar in this format, back in the early ’90s.

  • Keith

    Thanks, that is just what I wanted to know. It was quite enjoyable on regular movie screen in 3-D. The closest IMAX for me is about 45 min away and will be about twice as expensive. A significant increase in time, effort and cost for just a nominal improvement in experience. If I see it again, think I’ll stick with the local 3-D; plenty of enjoyment to be had there.

    I imagine the second time through you can pay more attention to the 3-D experience itself, now that you know the story.

  • Brian

    Agreed, we saw it on Friday in IMAX, then again on Sunday in non-IMAX (but still 3D). All four of us that saw it twice thought it was pretty much the same experience.

    The movie held up on a second viewing, too, I kept waiting for some part where I would feel “oh I have to sit through this part again, hurry up and get to the good stuff”, but that never happened. It’s ALL good. :)

    Some people are trying way to hard to hate this movie. Sure some of the dialog is a little clunky, but the story and performances are just fine, and the visuals (esp in 3D) truly transport you to another world, in a way only a handful of movies have done.

  • Jason

    I saw the movie in 3D on a regular screen.I must tell you that after putting on the glasses for 2hr-40 mins there was some strain on my eyeballs.As for as the movie itself goes i was not so impressed.I enjoyed the movie only until the Thanator chase which ends in jake getting segragated from the other avatars. From there on the movie played out like a pocahontas mixed with ferngully.

  • FrankS

    I prefer the IMAX 3D only because the 3D glasses are larger and more comfortable than the normal RealD 3D glasses. I wear glasses, and the IMAX 3D glasses are large enough to fit over mine without any problems. The RealD 3D glasses require a balancing act where I balance the 3D glasses on the bridge of my regular glasses – it gets annoying after a while.

    As for picture quality, the Muvico digital 4K theater I went to for the regular 3D showing has a screen that’s practically as large as the faux IMAX screen where I also saw Avatar. To be honest, 4K cinema 3D vs. IMAX 3D was a close call with no clear winner. I think the IMAX display was a tiny bit more clear, but I was perfectly satisfied with the regular 3D showing.

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