since the avatar dvd came out recently, i’ll post my impressions from when it first came out:
i went and saw avatar shortly after it was released in 2d, which is said to not be the full experience. but to me, if you need to see it in 3d to be a good film, i just call bullshit on that.
since many of you know my nature when it comes to stuff like this, you may expect me to say some nit picky, horrible things about the movie. however, it just happens that it is a good movie. it accomplishes its goals and doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t. i can’t bash it for having almost no art house qualities, because that wouldn’t really help it in any way, it’s made to be accessible to teenagers.
i’ll just say it straight up, there are two reasons why everyone’s flipping out over avatar. one, it got hyped aggressively ($150,000,000 was spent on marketing), no one hasn’t heard of it. two, 2009 was a total drag for hollywood films. the only two other movies that come to my mind as not being crap, are district 9 and up (which was somewhat below pixar standard).
as for the actual movie, not much can be said. the plot is solid, the acting is good, the graphics are clearly superior, but that’s almost the reason that it’s so hyped up. it’s also the first movie james cameron had full control of since titanic 15 years ago.
it’s clear who the good guys and bad guys are, the plot has no glaring holes or paradoxes (like the time travel bullshit in the terminator series, also directed by cameron). all of the acting is good. the appearance of the universe (planets, organizations, ships, creatures, etc) is very original for the most part, it’s nice to see some aliens that are humanoid without being little green men or funny looking humans like in star trek. the way the avatar concept in the movie was execute was also original, he wasn’t plugging into the internet and he wasn’t lucid dreaming.
though it didn’t need it, some nice philosophical dialogue and musing could have been included in the movie. i mean, isn’t it the shit that they can move conciousness from one body to another? do the avatar pilots feel some existential dread as a result of this? i haven’t thought about it too much, but it would have been nice for it to have been included.
neytiri’s character seemed hauntingly similar to an archetype commonly seen in japanese media, the “tsundere”. she act’s like an asshole to jake sully at the beginning as a way of keeping her feeling at bay from others. this isn’t really a big deal though, it fit the character and zoe saldaña does a good job at playing the part, it made me feel weird when she cried her eyes out when her father died and when she flipped out at sully when he told her that he knew the master plan. you know that feeling when one of your friends starts to cry? that’s how i felt. only the best film acting and good stage acting can do that to me.
the film’s plot also seems very similar to pocahontas (jeff described the movie as “pocahontas in space”). i don’t mind this too much, as completely original movies are completely rare from hollywood cinema these days, everything is either a sequel, prequel, remake or based on a book, old tv show or (sadly) a videogame.
i also have too many questions. what is earth like during the course of the movie? is it roasting from global warming? is the pmc american? how does the avatar setup work? whatever, there will probably be a sequel, doomed to suffer because cameron will feel pressured to make it live up to the first movie.
cameron’s ideology is also painfully obvious, it’s pretty clear that he’s trying to create an allegory of the white man selfishly taking the lands of the indigenous, or even the current war in iraq. also note the environmentalism. on this note, i don’t really like most “war movies” like platoon. i mean, i like them and think highly of them, buy them and watch them later, but i would like it better if they were called “anti-war movies” as in, the ideology is served to you and not interpreted by the viewer. this is why i loved full metal jacket for its ambiguity.
additionally, weaver is one hell of an actor, and her role should have given her more room to do what she does best. her character of augustine almost seemed to trap her. i know that sounds vague, but it’s how i felt.
i hope i didn’t sound like too much of an asshole, but this is a good movie. one of the best hollywood movies of 2009. i’d give it a 7.8/10, would watch again. i just don’t like hype. sorry if this write-up seems half-assed.