I finally got to see Avatar last night and man, was it an interesting experience. James Cameron’s long awaited (and heavily derided by overly angry nerds) film was actually pretty great. The biggest complaints I’ve heard revolve around the story and while I admit that it is a rather simple Fern Gully like tale, it worked for me. The thing is that I didn’t go in expecting some sort of cinematic masterpiece like Citizen Kane. I expected The Abyss or hell, even Aliens level story and got it. I understand I might anger some nerds out there, but the story of Aliens is pretty god damned paint by numbers storytelling. Hell, the unkillable head bad guy was straight out of almost all of Cameron’s other works and it made me watch to watch the crazed Michael Biehn in Abyss once again. Shit, now I’m hoping for an Abyss 3D re-release, though that will never happen.
I will say that I don’t ever want to watch this film in non-3D. There were a bunch of scenes that were way too long, but were only made tolerable by the fact that they were eye candy. I took my 3D glasses off a couple of times just to see what the film might be like in 2D and my immediate sense was “boring as fuck”. If Avatar was strictly a 2D film, it would have to be an hour and a half. Nearly three hours was pushing it in glorious three dimensions, it must be torture in 2D. As it was, it made me ready to watch even more flicks in 3D. I’d even someday spend the cash for a new TV with the new 3D tech that got approved for home use not that long ago, if this is the kind of 3D we can expect in the future.
Going back to the story for a minute, I must note that I went to see it with Babette. She wasn’t really into it, but at a certain point she lost it. The reason being that she can be sensitive sometimes and the fact that EVERYONE starts god damned dying at a certain point didn’t help. Whether it was due to masterful storytelling or a cheap series of overly emotional scenes designed purely to make you sad is up for debate.
There weren’t very moments that awoke the evil, angry nerd inside me except for one. Early in Avatar the head company douche bag (unfortunately not played by Paul Riser) is explaining to the level headed woman that nobody is listening to (amazingly enough played by Sigourney Weaver) that the thing they are mining is worth millions upon millions of dollars and that the natives are in their way. By Crom, of course she knows that! She’s been there for years and she knows all about that shit, because she’s been there for years working with the natives. They might as well have directly addressed the audience at that point with the story telling being that clumsily handled.
Other than that I didn’t have that many problems with Avatar and I ended up really enjoying it. I did wonder part way through the film whether George Lucas was pissed when he saw the film when he realized that not only was Cameron ripping off the idea of a native people defeating a technologically superior foe like in Return of the Jedi, but he was doing it better with far cooler special effects.* That had to whip beardy up into a frenzy.
Oh yeah, before I forget. The fucking robot suits ruled. MOAR ROBOT SUITS… in 3D!!!!!111
* I was hoping for an Ewok military adviser like they had in Vietnam.