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Avatar – January 11, 2010 1:30 PM (edited 1/11/10 8:30 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I haven't really formed a solid enough opinion to actually review Avatar, which I saw yesterday (in non-Imax 3D), but I did have a number of thoughts about it. (My overall feeling was basically "it was enjoyable, but I have no idea why it's such a big deal" - translate that into a letter score as you will, I guess. Wink)

• Did James Cameron hire the monster (and to a lesser extent, world) designers from FFX to make this movie?

• Most interesting thing from my perspective (i.e., a politically charged one) is the dichotomy in how people felt about this movie. So far, people I know in real life have followed in almost the exact same way as the reviews split. My conversations seemed to go like this: "You should see Avatar, it's good" "isn't it kind of an environmentalist diatribe?" "I guess kind of, but not really." Meanwhile, the conversation with my brother and mother (which I might add I did not start) immediately turned to "that was pretty good, but would have been much better if they maybe turned the politics down a few notches." I guess people who buy into all this environmentalist stuff don't notice how intensely suffused with it every moment of this movie is?

• Staying on politics for the moment, biggest criticism from the Dowd family: the blatant politicization of the movie with real-life Bush administration quotes. Yeah, thanks Mr. Cameron, we get it. Except nothing Bush ever did came close to what the (blatantly evil) humans did in this movie. Arguably, nothing humanity has ever done comes close. But you can definitely make a case for the colonization of America... just not the Iraq War.

• Watching the movie, I wondered why it had such good word of mouth. I think I was just unimpressed by the graphics because I, you know, play videogames, and if you take that away, it's an OK (but overly long) movie with a politically charged message. Which doesn't seem like the formula for a mega-hit. Then again, looking back I have no idea why Titanic was a mega-hit either.

• On the other hand, my mom (who hates anything in movies that "isn't real") was very impressed with the CGI. She even said "I think that's the best computer graphics in a movie ever." Which, to me, is all smoke and mirrors - the big problem with CGI is making humans look good (the uncanny valley being most significant with things we deal with every day and all), and Avatar avoided that by having blue aliens in the starring role. I don't know that the CGI here was "better" than other recent CGI-fests (certainly Lord of the Rings's CGI felt just as "real"), though the fact that it was all mo-capped is impressive. It just shouldn't be impressive to my mom. On the other hand, from what I understand some of the humans were CGI at times as well, and as you can tell by the uncertainty in this sentence, I have no idea which, so that's something.

• I found it a bit disturbing that the movie crowd (which was quite full, even a month after release - don't worry people, I've already admitted to Clair that I was completely wrong Wink) actually cheered for the death of humans - their own species - at the hands of aliens. Aliens who I might add never liked us. The movie implies they don't speak with us because they think we're insane, and they are completely taken by surprise when we attack, so apparently in their eyes we are inferior beings even when we're not being blatantly evil.

• It occurred to me (and Kevin) that the whole movie would have been a lot better had the humans also been an alien race. Then the message becomes "look at how the environmentally-conscious race is better off than the one that doesn't care about mother nature!" rather than "humans, and especially Americans, and especially you the audience are killing the planet, because you're evil."

• I want to have a USB connection in my hair that links up to anything on the planet. Honestly I'm shocked that this concept debuted (as far as I know) in a movie and not a video game.

• Speaking of video games, this movie could definitely be the basis of a good one. It's got a last boss fight and everything!

• Love the design of the twin-rotor helicopters, the various flying creatures, and the things that look like displacer beasts. (Most of the other animals, like the elephant-rhino things, I wasn't a fan of but I'm used to from Final Fantasy games so they didn't bother me. Wink)

• Loved the fact that the best way to get the Na'vi to listen to you is to be a super-badass. Torn on whether I'm upset we didn't get to see just how badass, though.

• Why does Sigourney Weavers' Avatar's face look 100% human (except blue) but the other humans' don't?

All in all, an enjoyable movie, but one that is extremely easy to break apart piece by piece. (For a pretty good summary - from a liberal who believes we are killing the planet, no less, read this. And yes, that's an ESPN link. Nonetheless, read it. Wink)

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