Thursday, December 24, 2009

Out there is the true world


Sure, Avatar looked pretty cool when the previews first showed up, and James Cameron has a good track record. But then there was so much hype, and I did not really think the story (what little the previews revealed) looked very interesting. But then the reviews came out, and really, what can one expect from a film when reviewers are saying things like "You will never look at movies the same way again," "This forever changes the way movies are made," and "James Cameron is once again King of the World"?

So last weekend I saw Avatar in IMAX 3D, and I can say without hesitation that this film does indeed change everything. Never before have I been so totally immersed in an onscreen world. I was utterly blown away.

So first, I must address the obvious: the technology. James Cameron has quite simply raised the bar by miles, and the CGI and 3D effects go so far beyond anything anyone has ever experienced before. After a few minutes of looking at the 10 foot tall blue humanoid Na'vi, I forgot they were computer animation. They came alive, with life-like facial features, eyes, personalities, everything. More impressive is the world Cameron created on Pandora, a place overflowing with life, colors, bioluminescence, and freaky creatures. Pandora is a feast for the eyes, and Cameron's 3D technology literally made me want to reach out and grab things. With floating seeds, flowers, bubbles, insects, tendrils, and everything else a forest could have, the animation truly surrounded my senses. I sat awe-struck.

But Avatar does not stop at visual effects. The story and characters drew me in as well. I won't go into a plot summary here, but I rooted for the Na'vi, I cared about what happened to them, and I was moved by the plight of these fictional blue creatures. The film brings in issues of environmentalism, touches on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and condemns heartless corporate greed, but none of this happens in a heavy-handed way. Messages exist in Avatar, but they don't take over. Instead, Avatar is an adventure story, a love story, a war story, and a human story. With a kick-ass 40 minute battle climax.

The cast in Avatar does a wonderful job, and I have seen interviews that discussed the making-of process. Avatar is not just animation but motion-capture, which means the actors were all on the set, acting out the scenes in real life rather than in a booth reading lines. Such technology brings an organic realness to the characters. Sam Worthington plays the main character, Jake, whose avatar interacts with the Na'vi people in order to learn from them. He does an excellent job as both human and Na'vi. Zoe Saldana plays the Na'vi princess Neytiri, and she infuses such soul into this character. Sigourney Weaver plays another human who has spent her life trying to help the Na'vi, and her character brings some edginess to the film.

No summary of the plot or description of the characters can do justice to the experience of watching Avatar. Nothing compares. James Cameron, inventor and visionary, stands in a world of his own. I cannot wait to see Avatar again, and to see where movies are heading next.


At 7:09 PM, Blogger scott w posited...

During the film, there were a few times I almost cried. This film was both visually stunning and emotionally captivating. I loved every second of it. Happy Holidays Mr. W.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

I agree. I was moved several times throughout the film.

And Happy Holidays to you too, Scott!

At 7:20 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

I wasn't planning on seeing this movie until everyone I personally know - you included Dub - seemed to love it.

I saw Avatar today, and I was really impressed. Obviously the effects were just superb, but the story far surpassed my expectations. I supposed that's the residual result of exposure to effects showcases like Transformers 2 that pretty much forget about the story.

I was bothered that the character named Parker was such a jerk. I felt it was an unfortunate coincidence. Especially because the first seen he's in is where he's putting a golf ball. Bleh.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

I think Parker began to show a little remorse at the end, but was unable to do anything about the snowball he had started.


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