Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar did not Suck.

I have a secret to confess. Actually I have two. I will start with the one you will likely find rather shocking. I have never seen the movie Titanic. This is a conscious decision on my part. I will admit - I have seen bits and pieces of it when it has been on TV, but I have never watched it from start to finish. My justification for this pretty ridiculous, but I am confident in my decision to never see this movie. You see, in case you have been living under a rock since 1997 and were not aware - James Cameron’s Titanic is the “highest grossing movie of all time.” This is what irritates me. Yes, Titanic has made more money than any other movie ever made. And for some reason I find this irritating. If you take into account the difference in price of films over the years, the highest grossing movie of all time is actually 1939’s Gone With The Wind. More people paid to see Gone With The Wind than Titanic. But people never ever mention that when discussing movies. And this is the petty, slightly insane and completely ridiculous reason why I will never sit down and watch Titanic from start to finish. Seriously. For reals.

But today, I ventured out and saw James Cameron’s latest movie Avatar – in 3D. And let me just say, that it was pretty fricking cool. This is a phenomenal movie – visually spectacular, with effects and technology that I really do not have words for. The story itself is a little ho-hum, but the ride is totally worth it. According to a number of professional reviewer type people, our movie going world will now be divided in two – “Before Avatar” and “After Avatar”. This film has apparently changed the way we will watch movies.

“A paraplegic ex-marine finds a new life on the distant planet of Pandora, only to find himself battling humankind alongside the planet's indigenous Na'vi race in this ambitious digital 3D sci-fi epic from Academy Award-winning Titanic director James Cameron. The film, which marks Cameron's first dramatic feature since 1997's Titanic, follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a war veteran who gets called to the depths of space to pick up the job of his slain twin brother for the scientific arm of a megacorporation looking to mine the planet of Pandora for a valued ore. Unfortunately the biggest deposit of the prized substance lies underneath the home of the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tall, blue-skinned native tribe who have been at war with the security arm of the company, lead by Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). Because of the planet's hostile atmosphere, humans have genetically grown half-alien/half-human bodies which they can jack their consciousnesses into and explore the world in. Since Jake's brother already had an incredibly expensive Avatar grown for him, he's able to connect with it using the same DNA code and experience first-hand the joys of Pandora while giving the scientific team, led by Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore), some well-needed protection against the planet's more hostile forces.

On a chance meeting after getting separated from his team, Jake's Avatar is rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a Na'vi princess, who brings him into her tribe in order to give the humans a second chance at relating to this new environment. When word gets out of his increasing time with the alien species, Quaritch enlists Jake to do some reconnaissance for the company, as they'd like to persuade the tribe to move their home before taking more drastic measures to harness the treasure hidden below. Yet as Jake becomes one with the tribe and begins to understand the secrets of Pandora, his conscience is torn between his new adopted world and the wheelchair-bound one awaiting him when the psychic connection to his Avatar is broken. Soon battle lines are drawn and Jake needs to decide which side he will fight on when the time comes. The film was shot on the proprietary FUSION digital 3D cameras developed by Cameron in collaboration with Vince Pace, and offers a groundbreaking mix of live-action dramatic performances and computer-generated effects. The revolutionary motion-capture system created for the film allows the facial expressions of actors to be captured as a virtual camera system enables them to see what their computer-generated counterparts will be seeing in the film, and Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning Weta Digital visual-effects house supervises Avatar's complex special effects. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

I don’t understand the whole technology side of things. I just know that the world that Cameron created for this movie is beyond words. It is full of bright vivid colours, fantastical foliage and terrifyingly real creatures. Spectacular mountains, stunning waterfalls, vast forests. You become totally and completely immersed in this world that Cameron created.

I was especially entranced by the night scenes. Every step taken by the characters lit up the ground. Even when they were running through the trees after dark, their steps would light up the ground beneath them. So pretty. There were crazy dog like creatures that scared the crap out of me, flying dragon like creatures that were a multitude of colours and trees that the Na’vi connected to and communicated with. Hell, Cameron even had someone create an entire language that was phonetically easy for the cast to learn, but was unlike any language that exists anywhere in the world.

The story itself is pretty pedestrian and if it weren’t for the amazing effects, the film would be pretty mundane. A few things that specifically irritated me about the plot: the first two thirds of the movie are spent basically explaining how the earth is an amazing creature and everything and everyone is connected to the earth. Then Cameron proceeds to blow the shit out of it. The land the Na’vi are so desperately trying to save – the reason they battle the human interlopers - is pretty much decimated by the end of the film. Yes, they prevailed over the evil humans, but what do they have left? And in 2154, you would think technology would have advanced enough that manual wheelchairs would be totally obsolete.

Thankfully however, this film is not really about the plot – or lack there of. It is about the experience. And the experience is mind blowing. Will it take over from Titanic as the highest grossing movie ever made? I don’t know. But if it does, maybe I will give up my insane vendetta and see Titanic. Maybe.

Oh, and my other secret of the day. One that I am planning on remedying sooner rather than later. I have never seen the Shawshank Redemption. I just never got around to it. I know. I know. It is amazing and fantastic and life changing. Which I why I keep the fact I have never seen it a secret. Don’t tell anyone. Okay.


1 comment:

  1. Stephen and I saw it yesterday... The special effects were pretty cool... definitely worth seeing...

    PS I can't believe the amount of people that rate Shawshank Redemption as there favourite movie. It was worth seeing, but surely there are better movies!