...if I had missed this one....
Avatar.James Cameron has become King of the Universe (of movies, anyway) with this sci-fi action epic. I finally saw it yesterday afternoon in 3-D (which is the minimum requirement, I think. More below.) It was worth the extra cost and the time.
- Time was irrelevant. It was engaging.
- It would have been only fair in 2-D. It therefore does set new standards and directions for movie making. It is the 3-D that does that. I found myself pulled into the world of Pandora and at one point I thought, "Hey, this is like a National Geographic special on a newly discovered world." My daughter (who saw it on Imax 3-D) thought the 2-D sections weren't as good technically. She said they looked like 2-D characters pasted on 3-D. That wasn't quite as noticeable to me on a normal big screen. But the 3-D sections weren't as alive and suffered from the contrast with the 3-D. But then again, James Cameron doesn't leave anything to chance. I have a hunch that was on purpose. The 3-D realness had me more on the edge of my seat during the final third of the movie than it might otherwise. It also had one really interesting moment when an explosion (I think) sent an object hurtling out of the screen- and I ducked. Or when I went to swat away an insect. Very effective.
- The story is weak, but not for a sci-fi fan. Sure, it's not Lord of the Rings. Not many movies (or books) are. I found myself wondering how Cameron was going to pull this off. When it became clear, it fit. Sure it was a deus ex machina but isn't that the whole point of movies like this?
- Spirituality is basic to the movie. Some of put it down as New Age mumbo-jumbo or the like. "Tree-huggers." That kind of thing. Sci-fi has always dealt with significant spirituality issues, like, say A Canticle for Leibowitz. Or the Speaker series by Orson Scott Card. Sometimes human Sometimes the spirituality was a stand-in for our historic human religions and sometimes they stood in contrast. But...
- It is a cautionary tale. Some more conservative types have been arguing with the supposedly anti-military, anti-human approach. But, hey, it's a parable. It is right where sci-fi has always been. I remember reading an anthology of the great science-fiction short stories. Following WW II and the atomic age starting all the great sci-fi stories began to deal with those issues. Alien worlds have always stood for what we fear- or those we have to face. They have shown our best sides and our worst sides.
- If it isn't nominated for an Academy Award, it will be a shame. It is not a great film, it is great film making in a new day and age. It is like the first talking picture or the first in Technicolor or the first record in stereo or surround-sound. It is a new world. As a great movie- no. But it could get an award for The Movie of the Year. In the old days (like last year) when only 5 movies were nominated it would be more difficult to nominate it. But this year... it should be a shoo-in for one of the ten.