Which fares better: the theatrical or Blu-ray 3D version?
Upon exiting the film, I immediately became one of those evangelizers singing the praises of James Cameron's use of 3D. "It's not so much about the cheap pop out moments," I would tell anyone who was listening. "It's about creating depth." And I still stand by that description as high praise for the technology. However, the 3D experience I had with Panasonic's home theater equipment was far superior to what I witnessed in theater.
Perhaps it was the smaller screen or the fact that I was standing much closer to it, but I truly did feel immersed in the film's setting -- almost getting dizzy at times because of fast cuts and movements. What follows is a breakdown of some of the more memorable 3D moments in the trailer (time code from the IGN video is included for your reference).
00:26: The wheelchair bound Jake Sully exits the troop transport and sees the planet Pandora for the first time. The soldiers exiting behind him and the mech-suits patrolling on security detail are displayed with varying degrees of depth within the frame.
00:32: Colonel Miles Quaritch is conducting his "welcome to Pandora" briefing for the new arrivals. Again, as the camera pans around the room, the various groups of soldiers/scientists are clearly staggered within the visual framework.
00:34: As the Scorpion Gunship flies through the Hallelujah Mountains... well, you get it.
00:45: As Neytiri pulls back on her bow, I found myself ducking to dodge the arrow that looked as if it were pointed right at me.
01:40: Ever watch one of those IMAX movies shot from the perspective of a passenger on a rollercoaster? The ones that make you feel as if you yourself were actually on the ride? That's the feeling I got while watching this human to avatar body transition scene in 3D.
01:55: As the camera panned through the foliage to reveal Neytiri crouched on the tree branch, I again found myself ducking and dodging as if those leaves were really going to hit me.
02:27: Another great example of the varying depth levels in the 3D field of vision -- both swimmers as well as the lily pads floating atop the water looked incredible.
03:18: While all of the quick cuts of battle footage looked great, what really popped were the shots of rapid gunfire -- like this clip of a Dragon Gunship firing various weapons at the flying dragons around it.
Hands down the home theater 3D experience was much more immersive than what I saw in-theater. Perhaps Avatar's eventual Blu-ray release will be reason enough to invest in the new technology?