Avatar 3DMikey 17 comments
I have to say that I have a lot of respect for James Cameron for pushing the envelope when it comes to advancing cinema technology. Although he is famous for directing some really good movies, most don't know that he's also an explorer. This movie business actually gets in the way of his preferred passion of discovery. If you haven't seen his documentary, I enthusiastically recommend it.
Having just watched Avatar 3D though, it seems JC is getting lazy in his story telling. The CGI was undoubtedly fantastic - I mean it was jaw dropping - and nothing can rival those visuals. But I think there were too many times where I felt the director was insulting the audience. I'll get to that later.
Avatar is a very simple story at its heart with a slathering of CGI and overly long scripting to drag it out. You can plot the story in a handful of bullet points:
- Big evil corporation wants substance on peace loving planet
- Soldier sent in by evil corporation to infiltrate
- Soldier sees his own conscious, realises corporation is evil
- Soldier fights to protect planet and inhabitants
- Soldier and planet inhabitants are victorious
- Evil is punished, Good prevails
- Gazzilions of box office dollars FTW
Ok so it's not very original, but this movie isn't meant to have a ground breaking story line, it's really a technology showcase first and a story second so it can be forgiven for being in that order. If you go in with that mind set you wont be disappointed.
The main protagonist is pathetically sympathetic, as are the tree loving hippy aliens on the planet who are all CGI by the way, and designed to be as approachable as possible without actually being human. They have gorgeous big eyes and other feline qualities (everyone likes cats!), and are as pure as snow in their beliefs and care towards nature. They are essentially as far opposite to the evil corporation as you could imagine. So oppositely matched in fact I could just picture JC and crew having custom software written that automatically generates extreme opposing character sets. Anyone want to put money on that?
This corporation is made up of your your typical cliché stereotypes. The evil general who is 'just following orders' when he sips from his coffee mug while blasting the natives into oblivion, and the corporate douchebag only concerned with financial goals, in this case to obtain a rare mineral called - wait for it - Unobtainium. I kid you not. That's JC's way of saying "just in case you didn't get it, this mineral is supposed to be unobtainable". Thanks JC, my puny peanut brain couldn't have figured it out otherwise.
So JC has set us up to easily love the aliens and hate the corporation. It's a safe bet for a director to go down this path, so no points for originality there.
But the one thing that struck me as totally out of place in this movie, is that despite the obvious advances humans have made in this distant future, somehow there are still people with the same disregard towards other races that would have made them fit right in at any KKK meeting. There are even a few times when the aliens are referred to as monkeys and cockroaches.
This is even blatantly pointed out momentarily during a scene where the general is giving his pep talk to the soldiers, there is an obvious redneck complete with scruffy long hair and mustache sitting in the front row. Why is he there? This is JC's way of saying to the audience "Just in case you hadn't realised by now, nearly 2 hours into the movie, these are the bad guys and I'll make that obvious by throwing in a random close minded redneck". Thanks again JC. I was really confused with who I was supposed to side with, but that random redneck sure cleared things up for me.
I felt that JC went way overboard placing too much emphasis on character flaws. I mean c'mon. It's plainly obvious who we're supposed to be rooting for, we don't need to have our intelligence insulted by throwing in mind numbing clichés to boot.
When all is said and done, it wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't a particularly memorable one either. I won't be reserving a place for Avatar in my Blueray collection unless by some miracle I change my opinion of it.
What about the 3D? Well let's just say I would rather have watched it in 2D. JC is certainly advancing cinema tech, but I find it funny that he's leveraging off an idea that's been around since the 50's. I saw my first 3D movie about 20 years ago and wasn't impressed back then. But today the glasses were awkward, the 3D effects so prevalent that it was an actual distraction, the picture was significantly duller and less sharp when viewed through the specs, and the gimmick got tiring very quickly and I just wanted to view it the normal way. Essentially the effect hasn't changed at all, but the technology used to create the 3D effect is just different. That of course means nothing to the viewer.
Do I recommend it? I guess it's one of those flicks you just have to get out of your system, kind of like The Dark Knight (what was all the fuss? It wasn't that good). I've heard people say it's the best movie in the history of movies (that always makes me instantly sceptical), and others say it was a yawn-fest. I lean towards the latter, but I don't want a refund because I got to witness some mind-blowing special effects.