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Avatar... - Musings of Unayok

2010 Jan 10

20:59Avatar... 

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... The paint by numbers plot does a creditable job of staying out of the way of some very impressive visuals punctuated only occassionally by some of the problems that still seem to haunt 3D productions(*).

... A reasonable way to spend two hours (hint: it's a three hour movie).

... Implausible geography and improbable ecology provide fertile ground for demonstrating the state of the art in impressive CGI vistas, advanced image composition and motion capture. A demonstration of just how far all this has come, stitched together with bits recycled from classic SFnal stories.

... The paper thin stereotyped characterizations of the human population serve as a counterpoint to the depth of the visual artistry.

... A super-extended climactic battle scene seems de rigeur in modern epic cinema and Avatar honours its commitments here with vigour, ending with a resolution that begs the question: "what happens a week/month/year later when the next batch arrives?"

I am left with the impression that had I seen it in a 2D theatre I might have found it rather flat. (crickets)

As it was, it was an enjoyable ride that leaves few lasting impressions. Not bad for $300 million.


* - to wit: parallax problems on the periphery of the screen, a few eye-watering pans (mostly those involving on-screen computer displays), and all of the usual eyestrain problems you have when you play with depth of field in a 3D movie and have semi-interesting things in the background that people may want to (try to) focus on. Plus (of course) the seemingly irresistible temptation to continually make the point that THIS IS BIG, and HERE'S A(NOTHER) SWEEPING VISTA. That they seem to (mostly) hold their fascination through the extended period does Mr. Cameron credit.

(The first 3D movie I saw was Treasure of the Four Crowns. Things have come a fair ways since then.)

(And yes, I saw it in IMAX 3D)

Comments:

From:sfmarty
Date:2010 Jan 11 - 06:32 (UTC)
I saw it in 2D and now know I missed a whole lot. I knew the plot (such as it was) about 3 minutes into the film, or however long it was before our hero showed up. I felt it was a real waste of Weaver.

If I get the gumption up I will see it again in 3D, but...
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From:unayok
Date:2010 Jan 11 - 10:57 (UTC)
I agree, Weaver was underutilized. I'm not too disappointed about that, however. If she'd been more central, there is the risk of her trying to vy with the production. She wouldn't win that battle and it would have been jarring.

I would encourage anyone who's going to see it to try it in 3D. The use of the gimmick of 3D in the storytelling is much better than most 3D movies. With a better plot and some better writing, this could have been such an amazing movie. However, if you've already seen it as 2D, I can't say that spending more money on it is warranted. Maybe with some good company (which is what I had along with me) or you can just shut off the brain and enjoy the production.

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From:theobviousname
Date:2010 Jan 18 - 23:34 (UTC)
I wish I could recall the name of the artist whose look so clearly anticipated/influenced the geographic imagery. The names that came to mind were Whelan and Rodney Matthews, but neither seems to be right.

A very minor thought I had (that doesn't negate anything you said): I'm not sure the next ship out would have the means to do anything "constructive." The "turtle" was large compared to the apparent capacity of the star ship we see at the beginning (using the shuttle for comparison), so most arriving star ships (now that the base is up and running and the status quo appears stable) would only be carrying spare parts, consumables, etc. No need to be in process of shipping out equipment for another airborne regiment when you've already got one in place... (Especially not for a bottom-line-focused corporation.)

Which means that a full response (short of a kamikaze run in a shuttle) to the natives is basically round-trip to Earth away. IIRC, Jake notes that he's been asleep for 6 years, so a response won't arrive for at least 12 (or more if the trip is relativistic).

One of the nice things about the HUGE SWEEPING VISTAS was that at least everything was in focus, so my eyes had a chance to relax. :)