Dec 25 2009

Article VIII – In Which I Revolutionize Film Reviews…Forever

I really really hate this poster.

WTF, this isn't the nickelodeon show I googled.

Alright, you ungrateful swine.  Here I am on Christmas Eve – slaving away, all for you.  I hope you appreciate all my sacrifices for you.  Well, I’m going to be the winner this week.  THAT’S RIGHT, this week I break the mold and review something…wait for it…SOMETHING NEW.  What is it?  HAH I’ll never tell the likes of you!

So it’s Thursday, and I’ve already seen Avatar three times (research, you see).  A little excessive – possibly.  But how else can I discuss a 2 hour and 40 minute movie that’s being shown in three different formats?  Avatar has been released in regular format, 3D, and IMAX 3D.  Should I write this article in three different formats?  I THINK SO.

Okay, for the plot summary of this film, I could make a lot of snarky jokes about how the plot is a mashup of Dances With Wolves, Fern Gully, and The Matrix.  But I could never be snarky in this column; I’m a serious journalist after all.

Avatar follows Jake Sully – an ex-marine – to the wondrous world of Pandora.  When his twin brother dies, he is inducted into the Avatar program, which allows him to inhabit an alien body in order to interact with the native people.  Push comes to shove, and his allegiances are drawn both to his Marine superiors and his newfound native friends.

Eventually, he decides to side with the natives – a bold move, because they’re BLUE.  There are a lot of (somewhat predictable) plot twists, and he ends up fighting the hoo-mans in a spectacular fight sequence for the freedom of the planet from the evil Skynet Weyland Yutani Unnamed Mining Corporation.

Surely, that was the shortest plot summary I’ve ever done?  Loyal Filbots – can someone verify this?

Whatever, on to the “review.”

Let me start by saying that if you are going to see the film – please for the love of Eywa, see it in IMAX 3D.  Also – make sure that you are, indeed, seeing it in IMAX.  A lot of movie theatres are advertising their IMAX films, claiming that they somehow converted their existing screens into an amazing IMAX experience.  Well – let me tell you, a TRUE IMAX screen is 76×97 feet.  What screen did I see it on?  28×58 ft.  Indeed, a lot of theatres are passing off their digital screen size as IMAX.  Whatever – do your own research.

Okay – the obvious thing.  The effects on this were amazing.  This is pretty much the next step in photorealistic Special Effects.  There are times in the film where you completely forget that everything, EVERYTHING you see on screen is completely fabricated (this is true with every movie, if you want to get nitpicky).  Blue monkey people running around doesn’t make you roll your eyes and say “What the hell am I looking at blue monkey people for” – rather – it puts the idea in your head: “Man, people sure are evil, and I feel kind of bad pushing these blue monkey people off their own planet.”

Evil: he drinks coffee while committing genocide.

Evil: drinking coffee while committing genocide.

Yes, the plot of this movie, like most of Cameron’s films, makes you feel absolutely terrible for being a human (except for in Terminator – I’d rather be a corporate ass than a dirty backstabbing Eastern-European robot).  There are a lot of people who say that the plot is the weakest part of this movie.  That the story is predictable.  You know what I say?  Procrastination is the best way to avoid doing quality work (like this article).  But I also sometimes say that the story behind 90% of movies everyone likes is predictable.  Welcome to Hollywood.

What else is there to say about the technical aspects of this film?  Cameron remains the master of science-fiction storytelling, as will be demonstrated every single time we look at one of his films (trust me, I’m going to find a way to review Titanic as sci-fi).  I really can’t get enough of this guy.  I…I feel a little flutter in my tummy when I think about him.  In a totally masculine YEAH LET’S BLOW SOME FUTURISTIC SHIT UP kind of way.

Okay, so the question everyone wants me to answer – will this movie change filmmaking forever?  I clearly know the answer, but I’m not going to give you the facts.  Just my opinions (which you may take as fact).  The technology to make this kind of film definitely exists now.  There is no question about that.  Now, who has access to that kind of technology?  Fil?  Of course I do.  You?  No.  Unless you are James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, or George Lucas (ugh, keep him away from it please) – you are not being handed 350 million dollars to make your weird little fantasies come true.  As a result – this kind of filmmaking will be limited to the people who are already established in Hollywood.  And let’s face it – a lot of those people are running out of ideas.

(As a side note – if any of you cool Hollywood types are reading this – give me a job, you guys totally have all the best ideas.)

My views on the film?  I loved it.  Do I really need to say more?  This film is pretty much everything I wanted out of the Phantom Menace but didn’t get.  Why bring up Star Wars, you ask?  Because everything is relatable to Star Wars.  Try it.  Ask me anything.  Anyway, back to the point: Avatar was awesome.  I wasn’t even buying into the hype either.  Avatar Day?  Pfffff, That’s no Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, amirite?  This film legitimately delivers.

This image has nothing to do with the previous and subsequent paragraphs

This image has nothing to do with the previous and subsequent paragraphs

One more thing I forgot to mention – the actual ecosystem and set up of the Pandora world.  My god, this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on screen.  An entire world that acts as a symbiotic organism is one of those ideas that’s been around for a while in science fiction – but to see it up on the big screen…priceless (I could totally write for Mastercard).  Every little detail about the world is fantastic, even after having seen it three times, I’m sure there are details I’m still missing.  The only ecosystem I’ve seen that even comes close to it is the wildlife on Skull Island in King Kong.  And even then, it pales in comparison.

By no means is it the greatest film of the year – but it’s definitely better than a lot of the crap coming out of Hollywood nowadays.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get some more rum and coke.  NO NOT THE SODA, I’M HARDCORE LIKE THAT.

Happy Whatever-the-Blue-People-celebrate-for-the-holidays!

3 Responses to “Article VIII – In Which I Revolutionize Film Reviews…Forever”

  • Mitzi Says:

    Damn you for talking me into seeing this. Now I wan to. It’s still low on my list, but that’s not stopping me from shaking my fist at you.

  • Rosser Garrison Says:

    Although YOU took me to see this one (in regular mode…we couldn’t get 3-D tickets, remember??), I agree with all you say here. This is one of the most enticing films VISUALLY to see. You’re right about the plot, but…who cares? Why do folks go to see movies , anyway? TO BE ENTERTAINED!

    This is a great film not to be missed! Enough said?

  • James’ Top 10 Favorite Movies of the Second Half of 2009 | Lock, Stock, and Two Film Geeks Says:

    […] Some people will be surprised at this not be better ranked than I have it, but when I compare it to the movies below, it just doesn’t have as good a story, characters, dialogue, or even emotional punch.  Certainly the visuals are fantastic and enthralling, and I was never bored, and the IMAX 3D experience was nothing short of incredible.  It’s also a good distillation of a lot of the sci-fi films we’ve grown up loving.  As much as people make fun of the played out themes in the film, at least there’s a lot of them layered in here.  But still, I’m seeing a lot of people overrate this film (including our own writers). […]

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