Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Ave you seen Avatar? You should

Today I saw Avatar. I will admit that I went in with almost no expectations. I have heard and read a lot about this movie - not because I was dying to see it, but because information is everywhere and cannot be avoided. I knew it would be visually interesting, and I knew that the story line and acting would not be great (a lot of flat cliches for characters, and a story line with no surprises). But I also wanted to keep an open mind - it's not making so much money for no reason, and besides, whenever there is something amazing added to the pop culture arena, there is always criticism.

I was blown away. I was engrossed the entire time. I didn't look at my watch. I didn't finish my popcorn until way into the second half (I usually finish in the first 15 minutes). I didn't mind when kids behind me were talking or when a little kid in our row had to go potty and had to step on all of our toes on his way out. The theater was still packed - weeks and weeks after the movie first came out.

We saw it in 3D at the IMAX theater in Irvine. (Go big or go home, baby). It was more than visually interesting - it was constantly visually stimulating. The colors were great, the battle scenes were captivating, and the 3D effects gave an interesting depth even to the simple, conversational scenes. Combining the surround sound with the 3D effects, I felt like I was there. I could feel the explosions and I could imagine the feeling of soaring on the back of whatever that creature was.

The complaint offered by mose criticisms I've read has been about the story line of this film. It is said that the story is too obvious - we know what's going to happen the whole movie; there are no surprises or twists. While this is true, I think it makes the movie better. The point of a movie like this is to give the viewer a new type of movie-viewing experience - not to wow us with superb writing or fantastic acting. The point is to provide a canvas on which to create the artist's masterpiece.

I have also read complaints about the characters and the acting, and I'm not going to argue with them too much. Sigourney Weaver was actually pretty terrible, and her character was self-righteous and annoying. The dude from "Grandma's Boy" (Joel Moore) was good, but nothing out of the common way. The Colnel was typically two-dimensional (in acting only - duh, this was a 3D movie), and the playing out of the love story was good, but not steamy.

There is also a lot of talk about this movie and its metaphors and messages - the war! environmental disaster ahead! cultural and racial acceptance! You can make those suggestions, and maybe there's some merit in it, but I think the movie is so much better if you don't attach social implications. Just enjoy a classic story, well told and presented!

This movie should definitely be viewed in a theater and preferably in an IMAX theater - it's worth the extra money. It should be seen by everyone. It's not going away - it will be part of pop culture forever - get in on the conversation!

Having said all that, this is not a movie that I will see again. It won't have the same impact on me a second time, and it's not the type of movie I would put on at home while I clean the house. I'm really glad I saw it, I'll always remember it, and I'll be thinking about it for days. But that's the end of it for me.

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