Wednesday, February 10, 2010
As I mentioned in my Golden Globes recap, I didn't want to see Avatar, it looked like a glorified Disney Pixar film, not that I don't enjoy Disney Pixar, but I wouldn't dream of spending $14 on an animated feature.
Still, I try to see as many Oscar nominated films as I can before The Academy Awards. In 2005 I saw all the Best Picture nominated films without even trying (Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways) I loved all these films. Since then, there's always a few films nominated that my friend and I call "Spinach Movies". These are films that are highly intelligent and well-crafted, but it's like eating spinach when you really want ice cream. (Munich, The Last King of Scotland, Babel, No Country for Old Men, and this year, The Hurt Locker). For 2010 the Academy nominated 10 films instead of 5, So I have my work cut out for me to see them all before March 7th. I'm playing catch up all next week, planing to do a double feature of An Education and Up in the Air . Inglorious Basterds is on back order on Netflix, so I'll rent that, and have queue up A Serious Man , bringing me to a total of 7 of the 10.
Back to Avatar, I resigned myself to don the detested 3D glasses. I know everyone else thinks this whole 3D thing is a gas, but I have trouble keeping sunglasses on for longer than 10 min at a time, so for me, until they can figure out how to do it without the glasses, I say just stick to 2D. However, just as I always say I'd rather not do subtitles, and then I get so engrossed in the film I forget I'm reading; same thing, once I was taken into the world of Pandora, I forgot all about the spectacles (and no motion sickness either!).
In it's simplicity, I found the mythology of Avatar to be more complete for me than Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and more thoughtful than, X-men movies; although, I truly am a fan of all of these films. True, the film does not have a terribly innovative paradigm as far as the storyline goes; the moment you see Jake (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic, you know the end result will be him staying on Pandora with his Avatar body. An outsider trying to fit into another world, rivaling with the best and the brightest and falling for the daughter of the "King", is all standard stuff. The trick is taking universal stories and making them fresh and vibrant. I feel this was accomplished and depicted in a very innovative way.
The effect of the motion capture headgear with camera attachment, capturing the performance of the actors, rather than leaving it all up to animators or costuming, is truly fascinating. I viewed clips of Director James Cameron discussing the making of Avatar and was amazed to find out how long it took for this film to come to fruition. He wrote the screenplay 10 years ago. Then he waited for and contributed to, the advancement of 3D camera technology. In between, he and partner, Jon Landau set about developing the world of Pandora, combining science, nature and imagination. Every inch of the forest and it's creatures were well planned out 2 years in advance of shooting the film. I think the effort of these details really paid off in spades!
I also admire the fact that as a white male, Cameron feels comfortable vilifying the military, headed up by white, greedy, unenlightened warmongers. And in turn, creating the Avatars as ethnic beings of light, in tune with nature as God intended.
Upon leaving the theater (30 min from home) the snow had really started sticking and the blizzard conditions had begun. But I was unafraid, I've had my little Mazda Protege for 20 years, I've "bonded" with it, like Na'vi (Zoe Saldana) flying with abandon on her Lavi bird, and in moments I was home safe and sound.
Rating: 4 Tines
(* Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished)