Monday, January 04, 2010


By now, no doubt, you've heard about this movie, or you know someone who has seen it  It was projected to be this huge extravaganza of special effects, CGI and this new technology via James Cameron, who is such an influential and powerful director in Hollywood that he creates ideas for films, then shelves them until technology can handle what he wants to do... a la, this movie was begun in the mid-90s, but was put away since he wasn't ready to make it.

There are 2 aspects to this film to discuss, one being the visual, and the other being everything else... here's the visual...

First, let me just say that I don't always dig on 3-D films.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't... we saw "Bolt" in 2008 in 3-D, and though the movie was great, the 3-D did nothing for me.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I made the decision to NOT see "Up" in 3-D, if only because "Up" is full of color, its bright, its lively, and 3-D glasses tends to dim the color more than I'd like.   We saw "A Christmas Carol" in 3-D in December as well, and actually forgot it was in 3-D until the Rave Motion Picture cashier said, "$24.50" right as he swiped the card.  I looked at The Lovely Steph Leann and said, "Oh yeah, its in 3-D."  She looked back and said, "Yep, I guess so."

The movie was good, and the 3-D helped, but I could have taken it or left it.  Was it worth the extra?  I dunno, maybe.  We even saw "Toy Story 1 & 2" double feature in 3-D in November, and it was great... but 2D probably would have been just fine.

However comma

"Avatar" was the absolute best use of 3-D I've ever seen in my complete, whole, entire life.  The spectacle, the color and the use of 3-D was marvelous, the depth of the picture was unlike anything I'd ever seen.  The movie simply comes alive as the picture goes on, and while you forget you are even watching it in 3-D, somehow you know it wouldn't be the same in 2-D. 

The planet Pandora, where the majority of the movie is set, blooms and explodes with every nuance of color you can imagine.  The blues are somehow bluer, the reds are redder, the ground that lights up when the Na'vi walk somehow lights up a little more.  The sweeping shots of the sky and the flying are breathtaking.  If this entire movie was nothing but the main characters reading War & Peace aloud, yet were doing it while walking this majestic wonder that James Cameron and his CGI 3-D technology has created, it wouldn't take much to convince me it might be worth another $12.00 or so. 

The technology is so new and incredible that I even read reports that fellow directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were coming by the sets to watch and check everything out.  This is a movie that you go see, and take recognition that you are witnessing some big for the first time... like seeing "Star Wars" for the first time... or "Jurassic Park" for the first time... heck, even like seeing "Titanic" for the first time. 

Remember, there are two parts to this movie... that was the visual... now, let's get to everything else. 

The story was average.  I mean, it was a good story, it wasn't boring, a few people died that you didn't expect to die, but you kinda knew how the ending would end.  The acting is average, no one really jumps out, though I will admit that both Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana do a stellar job all dressed in the blue of the Na'vi.

Simply put, the story is a tribe of 10 foot tall blue people named The Na'vi live on the planet Pandora.  The Earth's military (re: Americans) are there, mining a precious mineral that is worth around $20 million per gram... and naturally, The Na'vi live primarily atop the biggest deposit of this mineral, and the military need to get at it.  To infultrate and coerce The Na'vi to move, they used "Avatars", which are... well, they are... the Avatars are... okay, so like, the Earth guy goes to sleep, and there is an Avatar, which looks just like a Na'vi guy, nearby, and when the Earth guy gets hooked up to this Avatar Na'vi guy, then goes to sleep, the Avatar Na'vi guy comes to life and the Earth guy sees and feels what the Avatar Na'vi guy sees and feels for as long as the Earth guy is asleep, but when the Earth guy wakes up, or is rudely awakened, the Avatar Na'vi guy just falls and passes out, while the Earth guy wakes up unharmed.

Get it?  Got it?  Good.

So, Jake Sully, a paraplegic, arrives on Pandora, is given an Avatar and is dropped among the Na'vi to help this sadistic Marine Colonel get among the Na'vi and learn their secrets, especially the best way to destroy them.  Then this whole morality thing kicks in for Jake, he gets the hots for his fellow Na'vi named Neytiri and calamity ensues.  And when its James Cameron, its big, epic calamity.

Here's my only issue with the movie, and really, what you have to look forward to when it comes to many Hollywood films... its got a green message--don't destroy what Mother Earth as created, and on this planet, it truly is a Mother of a planet.  And its got a very obvious anti-war message... the bad, mean Americans think they can come in, take what they want, wreak havoc on everyone and anyone without a care in the world, and boom!  They gotz told.   Such is life when it comes to films of this generation.

By and large, "Avatar" is a magnificent film, if only for what your eyes will feast upon in every second.  And to see it, do it justice and see it in 3-D. Don't wait for the dollar theater or do the "I'll see it on DVD" or catch a 2D show... this is a movie you just simply need to see in 3-D to understand.  And to fully appreciate.

Just remember... ignore the anti-military stance.  It will help your enjoyment of the film. 


  1. Thanks for the notes on Avatar. Still undecided about whether I'll get to see it or not, but good to hear your perspective.

  2. Put it this way... I usually take story over style... hence "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was a visually great film, but a piece of crap story wise, so I don't have it anywhere near my Top 100 of the Year... this one, I can give the edge to style, which I rarely, rarely do.

    And its good to hear from you, Mindy D'A.

  3. Thanks man.

    I saw this op-ed piece today. I wanted to share because it included a phrase that made me smile: The Gospel According to James (Cameron).

  4. Couldn't agree more with your take on it. The plot was predictable and there were several holes in the storyline, but my goodness, it was such a spectacle. I can't imagine a movie will EVER top the visual depth and splendor of this.


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