Monday, January 4, 2010

At the Movies: Avatar

Red and I became the last two nerds on earth to see Avatar over the weekend, and as a friend of ours put it, it was shiny.

That’s really the best way to describe a movie that’s at once visibly stunning, and at the same time as wooden and predictable as most action movies.

A snarkier person might say something like, “In other words, it’s a James Cameron film!” but I don’t want to dog on the King of the World today. The world he’s created in Avatar is a revelation. I’ve never seen CGI effects blend so beautifully with actors and tangible sets before. We saw the 3-D version, and it was worth the extra few dollars.

(There are a few great non-CGI visuals as well. Leading man Sam Worthingto is dreamy - even if he can’t quite master an American accent - and Sigourney Weaver is a stone cold fox as usual).

But this is also part of the conundrum of Avatar. Usually, I tell people to wait for the DVD with "meh" movies. But the astounding visuals probably wouldn't translate to the small screen. It really boils down to how you weigh good special effects vs. story, writing and acting, and also how strong your need is to be up to date with popular culture. If you want to get jokes about Elwa and Unobtanium, go see it. If you’re OK being in the dark, it’s probably not worth it.

Besides, it already looks like this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Pandora and the Na’vi. Elwa help us all.


red said...

I love in that article you linked that he said he's thinking about Avatar 2, but "I haven't put any serious work into writing a script."

Hahahahahahaha. Good one, James! Like you ever put serious work into your scripts.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Dave H said...

This movie in IMAX 3D is the real deal...I was seriously captivated the whole time.

Gotta love the mineral "Unobtainium." Even more precious then "Veryrare-anite."

Dave H said...


(ps but make another movie equally as awesome...)

Dr Zibbs said...

Just saw it for the 2nd time.

words...words...words... said...

I just saw it today. I was so blown away by the physical experience of watching it that I can't really comment yet on how it worked as a nuts and bolts story - all I know is that it largely worked for me.

It's almost like it was a new didn't feel like a movie so much as some kind of cross between a movie and a Disney ride (and that's a compliment.) The two problems that crop up with visual effects movies are that the CGI is unconvincing or there isn't anything creative and original enough to exploit the potential of the effects. Avatar has neither of these problems. This is the most ambitious visual effects movie ever, and it is UTTERLY convincing. The universe of the movie was also worth the effort and took every creative advantage of the technology.

I really cannot fathom the work it took to make this movie at the level of quality it displays. I don't think it's overstating the matter to say that it's a landmark technical achievement on par with The Jazz Singer, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It's just that significant and that accomplished.

Dave H said...

Damn son, they don't call you wordsx3 for nothing

words...words...words... said...

I was on a roll. There's no "off" position on the genius switch!