Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Getting Avatarded: Post-Movie Thoughts

NOTE: Part Two of my somewhat-belated coverage of the movie Avatar. For Part One, check the post below this one (too lazy to link!)

Let me get the hard part over with first; I was dead wrong about Avatar. It was WAY better than I thought it was going to be. James Cameron came up to me as the credits were rolling and kicked me in the balls, and I said, "Thank you, sir... thank you."

Now, was it a perfect movie? No. It was pretty damn great, but let's not get crazy. We will, however, break this fucker down like a side beef. Shall we...

The Good

-Hands down, Avatar is the most visually impressive movie I have ever seen. There's no debate there; the things he does with the 3D technology are mind-blowing, across this board. This isn't cheesy "comin' at ya!" effects. It's an immersive experience that makes it feel like a crashing space ship is going to land right on your nuts. The visuals make the movie immense; there's been a lot of talk about how Cameron has created a new, fully rich world in Avatar and, as silly as that sounds... after having seen the damn thing... they're right. The tiniest details are accounted for and it is a pleasure to behold. However, hear me on this... ONLY SEE AVATAR IN 3D. Watching it on a regular screen in plain jane two dimensions is missing the point in a spectacular fashion. I actually feel sorry for people that saw it 2D. I want to give them a hug and bring them warm soup.

No joke, the visuals alone are reason enough to go see Avatar. Even if you hate the movie, you'll still enjoy going "wow" every five minutes.

-The acting in the movie wasn't bad; no "George Lucas, people are just props for my techno-wizardry to shine around" bullshit here. Sigourney Weaver is always great, Giovanni Ribisi... despite playing the exact same character as Paul Reiser in Aliens... is a fun villain, and the guy that plays the crazy head Marine is just hammy enough to make it rooting against him exciting. The real props, though, should go to Zoe Saldana, who plays the lead chick alien. Her performance is entirely digitally enhanced (much like Andy Serkis as Gollum in the LOTR series) and she absolutely fucking nails it. All the sympathy we feel for the plight of the alien race is directly tied to her skill at portraying real emotions under a thick veil of 1's and 0's.

The Not-So-Good

-The plot is essentially the same as Dances With Wolves. No way around it... Military man joins up with the opposition to learn their ways as a means to manipulate them, yet he instead falls in love with their culture... and one of their more shapely women. Thus, he leads the insurrection against what was once his own side. Calvary and Indians, Marines and an alien race... different planets, same world.

-Avatar gets a little heavy handed at times with the whole "this is an allegory for this" thing. Genocide, the way American has treated and still currently treats other countries, our love of military might over heartfelt emotional connections. It's all there and it's all handled with the subtly of a really, really, really, really obvious atom bomb. Also, there's a heavy streak of Earth Mother mysticism running through Avatar that made me feel like I was back working at Whole Foods again. Just try to ignore all the bits about the "energy of the forest" and the "Tree of Souls," or you might accidentally roll your eyes hard enough to give yourself an aneurysm.

-James Cameron knows his way around an action scene better than just about anybody (the final 30 minutes of the flick may be one of the best, most epic battles ever captured on film). HOWEVER, what he totally sucks at? Dialogue. He can build cameras from scratch, but he can't technically write the way people talk. It's just not his bag. All can be forgiven because OOOH, PRETTY, but still.

-The lead actor, Sam Worthington, is a grade-A hunk of Australian beef. Apparently, that's all you need to get super-famous in Hollywood these days, because he really lacks any other appreciable qualities. He's not HORRIBLE or anything, don't get me wrong. He's just kind of the place where charisma goes to lie down for a nap. The story would have been a lot more involving had he been a more energetic, interesting presence.

Wrap-Up, + Candy

So yeah... go see Avatar if you want to get your eyeballs exploded (in a good way). Be warned, though... this is some next-level shit. Movies won't seem the same afterwards.

As for the real important stuff... what candy I ate in the theater... I went for Skittles, which I think I'm finally done with. They were fine as candies go, but I think I'm just burnt out on them. Time to switch back over to Twizzlers for a little while. You heard it here first!


Blogger Erratic said...

LOVED this movie, but I agree. If you are going to see it for the plot and amazing acting, prepare for disappointment. I did not see it in 3D because it was sold out and I suck at planning ahead and I was still completely mesmerized by that world.

Now I have to go see it in 3D.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Hex said...

I was really worried it would be too much Titanic and not nearly enough Aliens -- but I was happily proven wrong. Even though I (like you) found myself nitpicking at the transparent plot fairly quickly after getting home, during the film I was enthralled.

all that being said -- as much as I loved watching it, they could have probably shaved 45 minutes to an hours off of the running time and still made the billion.

11:01 AM  

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