Friday, December 25, 2009
(This is a spoiler-free review)
So I went to see Avatar in 3D last night at the late showing. I went in with very low expectations, mostly because of the tall Smurfs from the trailer. Let's just say James Cameron does shock and awe as well as George W. did.
The story has been done before. My initial thoughts as the show began were Fern Gully meets Starship Troopers. (And I've seen it compared to Pocahontas and other similar films.) That didn't bother me so much, because really a film is all about doing it first or best, and Cameron certainly executed this story better than it's ever been done before. I was pleased that he took full use of his extensive budget to make it a three-hour movie. I doubt he could have told as compelling a story without a second less.
While the 3D aspect of the show (the entire show is 3D, even the preceding movie trailers!) was fantastic, the most impressive achievement of this film is how REAL the CGI characters feel. There wasn't a moment throughout the whole movie that the CGI characters came off as wooden or stodgy--their facial expressions, voice-lip syncing, motor skills, and skin/hair/eye tones all testified to bona-fide characters. The verisimilitude didn't stop with the physical aspects of the characters. Their personalities shone through despite the fact that they were CGI. This, for example, is one thing that Lucas missed with the new Star Wars shows, and why everyone wishes they could erase Jar Jar Bincks from our collective racial memory. Cameron's animators and team pulled the CGI off brilliantly.
I would have liked to see more of Sigourney Weaver; she took a limited minor role only. The other characters in the show, though, were interesting if archetypal. The archetypes worked well for this allegorical story, anyway, and strengthend its overall effect. For example, the head of security for the humans, while extremely archetypal zealous military, came across as an interesting character.
The romance in the story is good to a point--the endgame romance isn't so great, but the buildup is subtle and superb.
The colors and jungle wildlife are amazing! Creative CGI but also brilliant set and artistic design.
This movie appears to be Hollywood fluff at first glance, and many people have reviewed it as such already, but no matter what your interests or take on the film, it is a thinking movie. It takes a while to sort out thoughts about each aspect of it, and for that reason I enjoyed it.