When it comes to movies, few directors do it bigger and better than James Cameron, the creative mind behind 1997’s Titanic. Though that ambitious project looked as if it were going to hit a financial iceberg, Cameron created just the right blend of romance, adventure and edge-of-the-seat thrills. In a matter of months, Titanic raced up the box office charts, becoming the highest grossing film of all time.
In 2009, Cameron took that same winning formula into outer space for Avatar, a film that in many ways opened the floodgates for future 3-D movies. As Time Magazine reported more than one year ago, Cameron and Vince Pace developed the 3-D Fusion Camera, a technological breakthrough that embraces digital 3-D technology.
Audiences saw the fruits of Cameron and Pace’s labors in Avatar, a love story set on a planet that didn’t welcome or trust outsiders. Cameron’s visually stunning creation also was the only film capable of knocking Titanic out of the top spot. Nine months after its initial release, Avatar: Special Edition has arrived in theaters, adding unseen footage to an already powerful story.
At its core, Avatar is the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a Marine who lost the use of his legs. After his scientist brother is murdered by a petty thief, Jake is given an offer he can’t refuse by his brother’s employers. Filling in for his deceased sibling, Jake spends 6 years traveling to Pandora, a beautiful but deadly planet that holds a rare substance called Unobtanium.
Jake becomes the “pilot” of a creature created from his brother’s DNA and the genetic material of the Na’vi, the native people of Pandora. Through a cybernetic link, Jake’s consciousness is transferred into this avatar, allowing him to communicate with the Na’vi. Untrained and a bit trigger-happy, Jake quickly becomes an unlikely ambassador on Pandora.
If anything, Avatar: Special Edition shows that that this film really should be viewed in 3-D on an IMAX screen. Blu-ray discs and high-definition televisions are great, but nothing brings the colors and energy of Pandora to life like a movie theater screen. The Cameron/Pace system truly connects the audience to Pandora and the Na’vi, especially in a real theater.
Avatar: Special Edition has started a limited run in theaters, but if James Cameron keeps his word, he will film all his upcoming films using digital 3-D. He’s also planning a 3-D re-release of Titanic in April 2012, the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic’s disastrous maiden voyage.
It’s safe to say, therefore, that on Earth or Pandora, James Cameron is still king.
Avatar: Special Edition, rated PG-13, begins a limited release in theaters today, August 27.
Time Magazine, “Are 3-D Movies Ready For Their Close-Up?”, Josh Quittner