Why you should not give up on 3D and go and see Avatar 2

‘The film event of the year’

Avatar – the Way of Water is coming out this Friday in cinemas, billed as ‘the film event of the year.’

This is the sequel to Avatar, one of the most expensive films of all time ($237 million), which also turned out to be one of the highest grossing films ever (an incredible $2.92 billion). The film won three Oscars for James Cameron, who is considered one of Hollywood’s most creative directors (The Terminator, Aliens, Judgement Day, Titanic).

Now, 13 years later, Disney is releasing the sequel: a return to Pandora – ‘Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. A familiar threat returns and Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their home’.

The American reviews are out and it’s getting a huge thumbs up from the critics. David Sims of The Atlantic writes:

“AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER absolutely owns bones. I was slapping my seat, hooting, screaming for the Na’vi to take out every last one of those dang sky people …it’s an Avatar movie: slow start, big build, incredibly involving second act with a ton of world building and cool creatures that blisses you way out, then an hour of screamingly good crystal clear emotionally trenchant action to send you home full and happy.”

Yolanda Machado of Entertainment Weekly reported:

“James Cameron is a technology master… and his direction is at its most precise here. The film as a whole, while a technological marvel with a breathtaking world, is just …. Dances with Wolves and Free Willy for Gen Z! Pee beforehand.”

Why the Avatar films reach the parts other 3D films you may have seen didn’t reach

Now, normally I would not be going to a pre-Christmas children’s blockbuster movie, even with Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana in the cast, but Andrea Carnevali’s film review of Avatar has convinced me I should, if only for the cinematic experience.

The thing is, it’s an ‘immersive’ experience. The technology puts you there, under water with the creatures.

“I’ve never been a massive fan of the silly glasses” Andrea wrote of Avatar, “and yet, this is possibly the only film I can think of where the 3D doesn’t just enhance the film, but it’s an integral part of the experience.”

The film requires the latest generation 3D technology to watch it and Chiswick Cinema has been duly upgraded. It now boasts a first-in-the-country Christie laser projector in Screen 3, which, coupled with the advanced Dolby and Q-SYS sound system they already had, should make it a good place to see this film.

“We’re proud to be at the forefront of the best technologies to see this monumental film with” says Chris Parker of Chiswick Cinema.

The most recent iteration of 3D

The last 3D film I saw was Beowulf, which was OK but 3D has always seemed a bit gimmicky to me. Darren Briggs, Engineering Manager for Omnex, which installed the equipment at Chiswick Cinema, says when 3D is both created and projected correctly it can add another aspect for the director to help tell the story an immerse the viewer in the story.

Avatar was a perfect example of a film made for 3D and used as a creative tool drawing the audience into a different world.”

The trouble was, other studios then jumped on the success of Avatar and released some 3D content which was not actually created or shot in 3D but had 3D added in post production.

That is not the same thing at all, he says, so don’t be put off by anything you may have seen in 3D before that you were not all that impressed with. That kind of film coupled with a poor quality screen or projection system does not do 3D justice.

“With new brighter projectors, a new screen and a new 3D system it certainly should be tried.”

Chiswick Cinema’s all-singing, all-dancing new screen

The screen they have just installed at Chiswick Cinema is brand new, installed by Omnex with the latest in Chrisite RGB laser digital cinema projectors. It allows for polarized 3D to be projected onto it, which allows the use of the lightweight, low cost 3D glasses

I asked Darren for a technical explanation and this is it:

“The 3D system (made Volfoni) is installed in front of the projector lens. When playing 2D the system automatically retracts, when 3D is played, the 3D electronic filter screen comes across in front of the lens.

“This electronic 3D screen synchronises with the projected image by polarising the projected light which passes through to only be visible by either the left or right glasses.

“For 3D to work we have to project a left image and then a right image in sequence.

“This occurs 144 times a second alternating between left and right images when playing standard 24 frames per second films. This process is called triple flashing to reduce flicker to the viewer to zero.

“With the latest projection and 3D systems, Chiswick can also play HFR (High Frame Rate) content. Avatar – The Way of Water will also be released in HFR. This provides even smoother motion due to due the number of images per second projected onto the screen.”

So now you know. Next time someone asks you how they get the immersive effect, you will be able to tell them.

My takeaway from Andrea is that this is likely to be a film worth going to see, and my takeaway from Darren, that if you are going to see it, Chiswick Cinema wouldn’t be a bad place to do it.

Haven’t seen the first one? Or forgot what happened? The New York Times is ahead of you:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Andrea Carnevali’s review of Avatar 

See also: Circus 1903 at the Hammersmith Apollo

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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