Rating = B+

Initially we saw Avitar in 2D. The story is pretty basic. But the creation of the Pandora world, beings, and creatures is spectacular.

Differences between 2D and 3D:
1. The senior 2D price in Sandwich was $7, and the senior 3D price in Boston was $13.
2. In 3D one can see some of what's happening better, perhaps because the 3D focuses the eye on what the makers wanted viewers focused on, and these clues were not there in 2D.
3. In 3D the film looks more artificial, almost cartoon like, while the 2D version seemed more realistic. The 3D version has the problem that only parts of each frame are in 3D. For instance, the painted background is more obviously flat in 3D than in 2D. When I took off my glasses, parts of the frame were clear (i.e., not 3D) and parts had a double image (i.e., in 3D). In a two person scene, often one person's was in 2D and the other person was in 3D. This 2D-3D difference is part of what made the 3D look artificial, like looking into one of those old stereopticons. In 3D, the beautiful Na'vi woman Neytiri is even more narrow-wasted looking than in 2D, another aspect of the more cartoon-like effect.
4. The screen looked narrow in 3D. It seemed to me that the greater the depth that was shown in 3D the narrower the frame looked. Somehow the available depth made the whole frame look more cubical. Perhaps the people who say the film is best in IMAX are correct: maybe an extra-size screen is needed. Or maybe the lesson is that one needs to sit relatively closer to the screen for 3D.
In any case, the film is an impressive achievement, all the more so now that I see that part of the work must have been to make two versions of the film — one that looked good in 2D and one that looked good in 3D (and I guess the IMAX version also took some extra processing).

[2010-03-04, Heritage Cinema, Sandwich, MA; 2010-03-11, AMC Loews Boston Common 19: We saw Avitar again, this time in 3D]