Friday, January 1, 2010

Avatar: A Blue Handful of Further Observations

Just saw Avatar - Unlike Skot, I wanted to wait a couple of weeks until the crowd died down. Ha! Still a crowd. But at least they were calmer. In the spirit of the movie, I'm writing this blog on a virtual laptop from within Second Life. It occurs to me that James Cameron missed a great opportunity by not making it so one of the avatars was forced to climb into one of those exoskeletons and operate it. Or am I complicating the concept? When I say I, I mean me, not the Second Life me. Or do I?

As I say, the theatre was sold out, which is to be expected because I saw it in the IMAX theatre. Though it's not the good IMAX. Of course like pizza, even bad IMAX is still pretty good. Still as others have commented, the 3D is splendid, better than you've seen before. I did get a tiny bit of motion sickness but it wasn't like the miasma I experienced during Blair Witch Project, so again, still pretty good.

So, is it worth seeing in 2D on a normal screen? Can't say. I can't imagine getting the same enjoyment out of it that way, but I felt the same way about Beowulf and people tell me it was just fine in 2D. Strangely the movie this most reminds me of is Dial M For Murder which I don't believe I've even seen. The thinking goes like this - Skot remarked about the lack of real surprises in the screenplay. And indeed, Avatar does seem like a parade of James Cameron's best ideas, brought out again but refined and perfected. It's Cameron doing what he knows he can do as a storyteller. Dial M was an Alfred Hitchcock movie that came out during the first big 3D scare rollout in the fifties. It was big at the box office but it hasn't captured anyone's imagination, because Hitch was applying all his big creative thinking to the gimmick, putting the rest on autopilot.

But like a good bedtime story, you can know what's going to happen and still enjoy it. In Avatar the predictability leaves you free to concentrate on the details of his virtual world, which are just phenomenal. It's the work of a guy who had fifteen years to do pre-production, and he used it. So I can't say the movie will endure but like Dial M For Murder it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.


This bothered me - when they first lose touch with Sully's Avatar a search party is sent out but they have to stop looking as night falls. You're telling me that a guy has a machine-enabled telepathic link with this Avatar and yet there's no way to triangulate its position?

Also Skot says he was tipped off to the ending by a line of dialog near the end of the second act; I think the ending is prefigured long before then. Did you notice that the material they are seeking to mine on Pandora is called Unobtanium? Yeah, that's right. The Company is doomed from the get-go.

1 comment:

  1. A belated commentary on AVATAR I wanted to cement into the internet for safekeeping:

    Yeah, the story is a fair placeholder, a pastiche of ideas James Cameron is fond of. But as long as we're ***Spoiling*** things, consider way the story ends. It's fridge logic, designed (or underdesigned) to get you into your car and halfway home before you realize it's not an ending, but a stopping point. Sure The big smurfs won, and send the evil corporation guys packing, but as this "Unobtanium" stuff has been identified as so bloody valuable we're willing to kill for it. So the end is actually a brief pause in the action until humans come back to Pandora in larger numbers and pave it flat. After all, allegedly the biggest deposit of Unobtanium was under the big Keebler tree, which is now unoccupied and ripe for picking.