The IMAX 3d version of this is literally A DIFFERENT THING. I loved this when it first came out, and then seeing it in subsequent years on tv or streaming, it just didn’t hit for me in the same way, and though the effects were still great, I thought the film had aged poorly. I started wondering how this possibly could have made so much money.
I still enjoyed it on tv overall, but I had some pretty big issues with it. I never liked Sam Worthington in the role and found his delivery flat and wooden through most of the movie. I really disliked the antagonists (The military general and the greedy executive) specifically the shallow caricatures that they were. I cringed at pretty much any dialogue regarding military culture. All the forced “HooRah’s and “Get Some!’s, and any military terminology felt so stilted and awkward. Finally, the movie is definitely derivative, we’ve all seen this story before and it doesn’t push the boundaries or subvert expectations at all in a narrative sense.
To be clear, Every. Single. One. of those issues still exist in the IMAX 3d remaster, but I can’t stress enough how little of a shit I gave about them. You are so entranced, and so immersed in the full experience that you WILL not care. You can call it a theme park ride if you want, but it just works. It is so weird for me to say because I ALWAYS care deeply about that stuff. I’ve had to sit and ask myself “Why is it that Avatar gets a pass on character issues and an unoriginal narrative with me and other movies don’t?”. I think I have an idea of why.
When I’m in the theatre watching this movie as intended, some of these shortcomings surprisingly become assets to the experience. It’s no secret, that Avatar in this format is an audio/visual overload. In a technical sense, this 2009 blockbuster is doing SO many things that are new, and bold, in the biggest way imaginable. The breakthrough CG, the hyper detailed world building, the thoughtfully designed creatures, the seamless use of 3d, the rich and powerful sound; This is all ALOT to experience on its own. So much in fact, that the simplistic, familiar nature of the story and the archetypal characters are almost grounding in a way, acting as a predictable tether, pulling you from one immersive set piece to the other. Who knows what a “better” story would’ve looked like, but I could totally see a more complex story, with more complex characters quickly becoming overwhelming when it’s added to all of these other crazy elements.
So… I don’t know, that’s my best guess 🤷♂️ . I fully understand the criticisms of this movie, but I would implore you to give this experience a chance in this format if you haven’t already. I really think it will surprise you.