So, I was bored this afternoon, chores done (except for a haircut), presents rapped, house clean. Movie time! I decided “what the heck, I’ll give Avatar a whirl.” Matinee rate of $9.25 for a 3-D movie. $10 for some darned good popcorn and a coke (I went to a different theater than usual. Screen was a bit smaller than my normal spot, but, sound was fantastic.) My overall grade would have to be an A/D. Why the two grades?
Visually, this was a completely stunning movie. I caught myself not thinking that this was a mostly computer animated movie, and just fell into the scenes, especially with the 3D, which was done extremely well, and drags you right in. It was a cornucopia of delight for the visual cortex. Avatar gave you time to process the majesty of the scenes, and enjoy and revel in them. The details are simply stunning. All the animated creatures, from the tiniest to the largest, went light years beyond previous animation. They had facial expression, incredible movement, and emotion. And, it was a good thing they showed emotion, because the rest of the movie inspired very little emotion from myself or the 60% or so filled theater.
The overall plot was not bad, if kinda done before. A former Marine, who is paralyzed from the waist down during combat, is transported to a far off planet to work as an avatar which looks like one of the native people. Mean mercanaries working for a company want to move native people away from their home to get at the precious materials. Man goes native, rallies native people, beats company. It can be worked. The only problem, James Cameron didn’t. It wasn’t that the dialogue was bad. It was basic, but, OK. The acting from the live actors was fine. Even the “acting” from the computer animation was just fine. But, it just didn’t inspire an emotional response.
When Sully (the Marine) is falling in love with one of the natives, and she reciprocates that love, you barely feel it. When the tree is destroyed (trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum), you barely feel it. When the natives are fighting to defeat the corporation, and win (well, you knew they would, right?), you barely feel it. When the bad guy is killed, you barely feel it. When Sully becomes…….well, you get the drift.
Through the entire visual feast, there is little to inspire an emotional response. Has anyone seen “Marley and Me”? You just felt the joy, the sorrow, the love, the heartbreak. Something as simple as a puppy running loose on the beach brought a smile. When Marley had trouble getting up the stairs to the front door, you felt sad. Avatar brought almost no emotion. The audience was silent and still. You know what it is like to sit in a theater and pick up the emotions from everyone else. During Terminator: Salvation, I had the feeling that everyone wanted to walk out. Here, everyone just wanted to sit and relax like they would while watching one of those Sunrise Earth programs, or the ones where they fly over the countryside in some locale.
As far as being anti-war, anti-military, massive kumbaya with nature? Eh. There were some elements of the first two, but, it didn’t make me want to flip the screen off. Nature? A couple scenes were perhaps a little overdone, but, it was just a nice bit. Perhaps if there was any frickin’ emotion in the movie, I might have been like “whatever. Envirowackos.” The “green” stuff actually worked, most of the time. Ant-corporate? Just didn’t see it, though, it is amusing that some feel that that was a message, considering how much corporate money Cameron would have had to take to make the movie. I’m not sure what Roger Ebert was seeing, but, one thing he doesn’t talk about is how it affects the viewer. Because it doesn’t. If you read so many reviews by pro’s and viewers, they talk about how stunning it was visually, but, very little about being emotionally involved and how great the story was.It wasn’t racist, as one liberal contends. It didn’t suck, as a conservative contended. It just was.
That is why I gave it the dual ratings. Visually, a solid A. For the lack of emotional content, a D. The story itself would deserve a C+. Is it worth seeing in the theaters? I have to say “yes.” You just will not get the full scope of the stunning visuals on your TV, even if they give away the same type of 3D glasses as are used in the theaters (unfortunately, movie studios give you the red/green ones when you buy them for home viewing, which just isn’t the same.) But, go to a matinee, and save a few bucks.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove