It has been 13 years since Avatar graced our screens. Eye-dropping visuals and advancements in digital imagery, unlike anything we had ever seen before with a 3D version thrown in for good measure rightly, earnt it the prestigious title of highest-grossing film ever. With the sequel, we knew about finally hitting the screens this year 20th Century Studios has decided to go the way of the gaming industry by refreshing Avatar for all to experience once again. But how will a movie, 13 years old that has been on streaming services for the last few hold up against more current releases?
If you haven’t seen Avatar, shame on you. Yes, its story had its controversies that some tried to drum up over the years, but at its core, Avatar was an absolute cutting-edge marvel of cinematography and paved the way for so many of our favourites today, plus introduced the movie-making world to literal movie magic that has taken the industry forwards in leaps and bounds since.
A quick refresh of the story.
Avatar introduces us to Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). A paraplegic marine whose twin brother Tommy was part of the Avatar program before his untimely death. As Jake is a match being a twin, he gets shipped off to Pandora to take Tommy’s place and use his Avatar to hopefully broker peace between the native Na’vi people and the invading humans. Of course, humankind is not really known for its compassion when a natural resource is involved so without going through the story again you can guess where the movie heads.
With Avatar 2: The Way of Water just around the corner 20th Century Studios has re-mastered the original to wet our appetite and give us a bit of a refresher for the original story, but I think there is more to it than that.
Avatar re-releases with updated 4k visuals, high-dynamic range and some sections have had a significant boost in frame rates from the standard 24 of the original to 48. For those not familiar with this terminology, it is essentially how many frames per second are shown, so more frames mean a smoother picture. Movies generally are only 24 frames.
Now I hate to admit it, but I am old enough to have seen Avatar in 3D in the cinemas when it was initially released. I was doing lighting design at the time and, through work ended up seeing it more times than I care to admit. That being said though, I can vividly remember the experience. From the moment you step foot on Pandora, it is a visual feast, yet with the 3D at the time, there were headaches and sore, tired and dry eyes because we just weren’t used to the style of 3D.
Fast forward to today, James Cameron has done what I was sceptical could be achieved. The re-release of Avatar has left me amazed once again. I forgot how beautiful this movie was on the big screen with big noise. With the addition of extra frames in certain high movement areas, Cameron has made some of the crispest visuals I have ever seen and with the added depth that 3D offers. The 3D is the best I have ever seen, and I didn’t get any ghosting in high-movement action sequences, unlike I have in the past.
Avatar was a phenomenon at its time of release, and now we have a new generation of cinema-goers who have seen it on streaming or Blu-Ray but have never experienced it the way that it truly was meant. If you’ve seen Avatar before and enjoyed it, you need to go and experience it again; if you never have before, stop reading this and get out there.
Avatar re-release is releasing in cinemas on September 22 and is not only a good refresher for the Avatar story before The Way of Water releases later this year but an experience to enjoy all over again the way it was always meant to be shown.
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