Now that Avatar has raised the standard for visual effects in movies, I have to wonder what this means for DVD viewing at home. I've seen only a handful of movies that have captivated me so much that I can't sleep that night. Avatar's intense three-dimensional visual experience made me realize that there are simply some things home theater is a long ways from achieving, and that it may never be able to accomplish.
In fact, I want to see Avatar again on the big screen, this time on the IMAX, which was sold out the night I went (I should mention, the last time I saw the same movie twice in the theater was probably back in the 80s when my parents were paying). I'm sure that even with a Blu-ray player, 3D glasses, and a living room with lights all off, I won't be able to get the same experience on DVD as I got from seeing Avatar in the theater.
I'm reminded of what a let-down it was to see the made-for-TV version of Titanic in 2000, two years after having seen it in the theater. Even if there had been no commercial interruptions between every drowning vignette, Titanic on the small screen was not as compelling as on the big screen.
In addition, because Avatar must be seen in 3D to get the full experience, I wonder if flatscreen TVs can deliver the story as convincingly. Another recent 3D movie, Up, I saw at home a few weeks ago, and it didn't win me over like Disney's brilliant non-3D Wall-E released a year earlier.
So DVD viewing may end up demonstrating more than ever that storytelling can't rely on visual effects alone.