Christmas is once more upon us, and as if the prospect of the world’s highest grossing blockbuster movie extravaganza ever, James Cameron’s “Avatar”, getting yet another cash-raking DVD and Blu-ray outing (this time in extended cut form) weren’t enough to get all geeky film memorabilia collectors’ juices flowing at this spend-happy time of year, the folks at Titan Books, in conjunction with Whitman Publishing, have come up with something equally special in book form to try and tempt the consumer of all things connected to this most immoderately spectacular of fantasy science fiction epics.
This large sized commemorative 3D book isn’t the kind of product to be found skulking discreetly in the bottom of anyone’s Xmas stocking, though: it’s far too big, brassy and bold for that. Contained within a mega-thick slipcase that actually weights as much as the book it houses does by itself, this collector’s vault book devoted to the imagery of “Avatar” is a strikingly lavish product, and is possibly as visually arresting an artefact as it is possible for such merchandise to get. The case is also home to a sturdy pair of plastic red-blue 3D specs (none of your flimsy cardboard rubbish, here!) which slot into a compartment on the front. Slide out the long, photo album-sized hardback within the casing, pop on those free specs, and be cast into the interactive equivalent of a pop-up book to end all pop-up books!
Thick and weighty though it is, the content of this tome is designed mainly to please the eye rather than the brain, with stunning reproductions of the film’s most memorable moments cast in 3D form and combined with a light text describing the characters, the flora and fauna of Pandora, a breakdown of the beliefs and structure of the Na’vi people’s society, and a detailing of the futuristic machinery and craft utilised by the colonising Resource Development Corporation from Earth – all in four easy-reading chapters and 96 thick, large format pages. Along the way, a general outline of the plot of the film (such as it is) is related to the reader.
In other words -- this isn’t the place to look for behind the scenes info on the making of the film or any kind of analysis of the film-making process. This is primarily a visual experience, aimed at the committed fan, out to collect as much film-related memorabilia as he/she can -- and will probably be enjoyed the most by a younger readership. The book’s photographic 3D imagery is generally very pleasing and a great deal more effective than it tends to look on film (this is your normal bog standard 3D effect of course, and not in the least comparable to the unique process used in the actual Avatar film). The illusion of depth is immediately apparent upon opening the book up, particularly in the bigger photographs and double-page spreads, whereupon characters, spacecraft or monsters spring from the covers and appear to the viewer to shimmer several inches above the page backgrounds. To add to the feeling that this is a treasure trove of artefacts and trivia designed to appeal exclusively to the collector, almost every page contains a special pocket or compartment of some kind, all of which host a selection of general film-related freebies: either tag cards, illustrated decals or fold-out leaflets (also in 3D). This is truly one lavishly adorned, luxury item of memorabilia; it doesn’t have much in the way of real content, but it looks stunning, has an agreeably pungent inky smell and generally makes you feel as though you’re privileged to be the possessor of such an immensely elaborate, thick-set catalogue of colour and outrageous spectacle. It’s the perfect Christmas present, in fact, for young fans of Cameron’s cinematic ode to Wow Factor cinema, or anyone who loves to collect and consume movie merchandise. It won’t fit in a stocking but it should be propping up a few Christmas trees this winter.