First impressions: 15 minutes with Avatar 3D

3-Different TechRadar writers give their view

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TechRadar has just got back from the screening of 15 minutes of James Cameron's Avatar – the movie that has been tipped to take 3D into the mainstream.

With 3D TVs the talk of the town (and probably the forthcoming IFA), Sky announcing a 3D channel in 2010 and digital IMAX arriving in cinemas around the nation, Cameron's next film is still being seen as a rallying point for the industry.

To spark even more interest in the film, a quarter of an hour of Avatar was shown off to people across the globe, and three of the TechRadar team were there to take a look.

Editor - Patrick Goss

I wasn't sat in the ideal place to be honest; my heart sank when I saw the words Row B on the ticket, and after seeing the Avatar film trailer yesterday and the game trailer today I couldn't help but think of Dances with Wolves and the Night Elves' homeland in World of Warcraft.

But, the moment the giant 3D James Cameron disappeared after introducing his film, I felt the excitement rising. The clips from the first half of the film – which made up the lion's share of the 15 minutes – varied in pacing, and to be completely honest the faster stuff still suffered badly in 3D.

As much as I wanted to be thrilled by the chases through trees, the really quick stuff was confusing and difficult to follow, making me wish I could watch it in more straightforward 2D.

However, the moment things slowed down, the reasoning behind the 3D was obvious. The early jarring glimpses of the aliens quickly faded to acceptance of the characters and little details shone through, like the glimmering eyes, and the vertiginous drops from the cliffs.

I certainly feel excited about seeing Avatar in 3D, although I'm still not convinced that this will burst through the notion that 3D is a neat trick rather than the future of cinema.

James cameron on the set of avatar

Gareth Beavis – News Writer

I'm not a movie buff by any stretch of the imagination, and my 3D experiences so far have been mainly made up by the recent slew of 3D Disney films. I've taken almost zero interest in the build up to Avatar, but was intrigued to see what all the fuss is about.

And after seeing 15 minutes of it, I'm torn. On the one hand, there were times when you could see how Cameron has taken the 3D/CG boat out so far you thought about calling the virtual coastguard - it was utterly mesmerising and so beautiful and engaging in the quieter, slower scenes.

On the other hand, it's not a lot more than an average fantasy film (think the product of Lord of the Rings mating with Ferngully in a fit of celluloid passion - in 3D) and while the physicality of the Blue Cat Things was excellent - you're still constantly aware you're watching CG-created Blue Cat Things, which ruins the immersive illusion at times.

For me, 3D is still just 'a bit cool' and a long, long way away from 'I'm going to pay £4 more to watch this in 3D'. Avatar looked very impressive, but from what I've gathered it looks massively over-hyped. Come on Cameron, next time spend the 3D budget on 'Titanic 2: This time we'll turn a bit earlier'.

Marc Chacksfield – AV specialist

After following the internet build-up surrounding Avatar for what feels like eons, seeing the film in all its 3D glory for the first time is something of a let-down.

Yes, it's mesmerising and the 3D does look a touch better than what's been seen in the past but it all feels, well, too much. The action scenes are stunning but your eyes just don't register everything that is happening.

Couple this with a disparate script that seems to mesh childlike videogame fantasy with Aliens-style space marine fighting and what you have is something that's stylistically a mess. When things calmed down, however, there was much sparkle in the 3D – facial gestures were jaw-dropping and the CGI faultless.

What we saw today were unrelated scenes and the faith that I have in James Cameron as a filmmaker should, and most probably will, mean that Avatar will be a success. Let's just hope that he hasn't spent too much time in making things look pretty and forgotten to take care of little things, like, er, the script.

TotalFilm is all over Avatar at the moment - so check out their 10 things you didn't know about Avatar