Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reflecting on James Cameron's Avatar.

This Wednesday (ironically after tweeting/facebooking about my lack of understanding of Avatar's appeal) I saw Avatar. It wasn't a movie that was on my "must see list" which is surprising when you consider how many of my friends and respected media types have been raving about the film. Luckily for me my friend Brad called me up that night while I had no plans. So him, Danny French, and I went off to see Avatar. Brad had seen it the night before and like everyone was caught up in the buzz. It should be noted that two days prior we had gone Christmas shopping together and neither of us understood the buzz.

So anyway, long story short, I saw Avatar. Now let me say it was good, not great, not incredible, definitely not best picture worthy. I didn't see it in IMAX 3D but I did see it in 3D.

3D is something I have yet to be sold on. Avatar did it well, probably the best I've seen so far, but I still think it's a fad that will pass. To be honest I hardly noticed the 3D, which is a compliment to its quality. However, it's one of the movies that weren't made with 3D in mind, and then had 3D tacked onto it later... like Up. It'll look great whether you bust out an extra $4 for the glasses. By the way, if I save my glasses can I get into 3D specific movies for the price of a normal one? You'd think so but I'm not totally sure.

Visually the movie was impressive but to me it just didn't seem as astounding as everyone made it out to be. Sure the whole world was fake, 80% of the movie was done on a green screen. So to the filmmakers credit it all looked real, so it's not that I didn't believe it, it's that I just wasn't impressed since we've all seen the line between what's real and fake blurred together so well before. I guess I'm just a tough sell, I'm more impressed by more surreal or cartoon imagery. In retrospect I probably should be more astounded by the visuals, but for some reason I'm just not.

The story was alright, not the best. It's clear much more time was spent making visually a good than focusing on creating a truly compelling story. You know what's going to happen for the most part, and there are a few moments that took me by surprise but at the same moment I'd realize "of course that would happen."

My biggest quarrel with the film isn't really a big problem, just something that bugged me. In the film the evil human corporation is trying to mine a metal that they can't get to because it's under the sacred Na'vi tree. The problem here is that the seemingly unobtainable metal is called unobtainium. Really James Camron!?! You can create a whole alien language but you can't come up with a good name for this futuristic, highly valued, space rock!?!

Also the film contains a sex scene between the blue people, which brought up a few questions between Brad and I and I would like to ask John Waters if he had the same questions (ex. do their magical pony-tails get incorporated in anyway? Do blue people get blue balls? The list goes on).

To me, Avatar is a movie with a lot of hype, some good visuals, but at its core it is nothing more than a summer blockbuster released during awards season.

To be honest this summer didn't really see many good movies, at least nothing I was too excited about. Sure Transformers 2 did well financially but lets face it, my dog could make a better movie. On that note, I'll do my top movies of 09 once new years officially hits, I'm not doing a best of the decade list since I hardly remember the earlier films of this decade and half my list would be based off what I remember seeing when I was 14 or younger.

Until then a be-lated christmas/holiday season for everyone, I hope it was swell.


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