Thursday, January 28, 2010
Sometimes on this blog, I tend to review rather obscure (sometimes because they're not very good, but often because they're just really, uh…foreign). "Avatar," suffice it to say, is not one of those movies. James Cameron's massively expensive, massively succesful sci-fi adventure has already been watched by basically everyone in North America and it will likely end up breaking every box office record ever set (without adjusting for inflation, of course. I see you, "Gone with the Wind!") After finally getting with the program and going to see it in 3D last night, I can see why this jaw-dropping, eye popping spectacle will continue to rake in the cash for months, even years, to come.
Sam Worthington plays a paraplegic ex-marine (somewhat unconvincingly, I must say...) named Jake Sully who takes over his deceased brother's place in a scientific program on a distant planet called Pandora. The program aims to help Sully and others infiltrate the local indegenous population, a race of semi-giant, vauely human bluish creatures through the help of avatars, or bodies that resemble those of the natives but are controlled remotely by humans. At the same time, the multinational corporation that is mining Pandora's rich energy reserves plans to use Sully as a pawn in it's efforts to drive the natives from their land.
"Avatar" cost over $300 million to produce and it certainly looks like a film that cost that much to make. The graphics…are…awesome. This can't be stressed enough. They're awesome. I watched "Avatar" in 3D because the IMAX showing was booked soild and even in 3D, without the wraparound IMAX screen and the 45 degree angled seating, the film was still a physical experience leaving me clutching by seat a few times as I followed Jake as he darted across tree branches and ahng off of cliffs hundreds of feet in the air. I can only imagine how much better the experience would have been on IMAX which makes me particularly bummed that it was sold out. Nevertheless, the visual spectacle of "Avatar" remains potent no matter how you watch it because the animation is just that good.
The other aspects of "Avatar" are a bit disappointing, to be sure. The dialogue is woefully bad at some points and the film's environmental message is hamfisted on all fronts. I laud filmmakers who find intelligent or engaging ways to grapple with the planet's continued over reliance on fossil fuels,deforestation, and our general willingness to continue treating nature like it will spontaneously regrow after completely ravaged it but a little bit of nuance would have certainly helped "Avatar" gets its message across with a bit more credibility. The underlying message is certainly worthwhile, but I don't know if audiences need to be reminded for three hours how badly we've managed the ressources of our planet.
Nevertheless, harping on a film like "Avatar" for anything other than its visual appeal is missing the point completely since everything else in "Avatar" is simply there to butress its visual brilliance. As blockbusters go, this one is certainly worth watching and on the biggest screen you can see it on at that.