Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I saw Avatar (in 3D Imax) over the holidays and I went in with little expectations because first off, I HATED Titanic sooooo much that I couldn't watch the movie, leaving well before the Titanic kissed the iceberg. Second, the general aesthetic and designs of Avatar seemed really airy-fairy; like something from an early 80's prog-rock album art by Asia or Yes--which have always been tacky and gaudy in my opinion. I wouldn't be surprised if James pulled these LPs out of his record collection and gave them to his art director and conceptual artists as a spring-board.

Ironically, I came out of the theatre really impressed; dazzled by its technical ju-ju. I was in a real state of "wow" for a few hours but slowly that veil started to slip and all the things I was able to forgive while viewing the movie started to overthrow that magical visual imprint. EVERY character in the movie was a complete stereotype and generally, I felt that although everything I was seeing was something I have seen before, only rendered and realized in such a technically advanced way that it was something I hadn't seen before (in some sense). Story wise too, the film was basically something I had seen many of only again, in a whole new way. Below, a guy named Matt Bateman explains my point:

There it is! There's Avatar's story in a nut-shell. I'd recommend seeing the film on a big screen in 3D as there was so many times where I had to give my head a shake and say to myself, "None of this exists! Nothing is real, it's all digital voodoo!" Working in 3D animation for 13 years or so made me look at the movie with a bit of technical eye and it was absolutely stunning and nearly flawless in its execution. Don't go in expecting an epic story with amazing characters as it's extremely flat and dull. I wish James Cameron could have taken that world and presented us with a less safe story. I wish he took some risks and pushed the complexity of each of the characters so they weren't so cookie-cut (ie, the first time we see our corporate villain, he's, yes, putting a golf ball and exclaiming how much he loves his new club. The military villain is a typical marine sergeant, complete with massive facial battle scars--meaning, this guy's seen some shit!). If Cameron had taken a route similar to Princess Mononoke, where there was complexity in everyone's role, that their objectives, no matter what "side" they were on were valid and just, then I'd have appreciated the movie more. But here, the corporation is "bad" and the natives are "good" and there's no in-between. The story and characters are black and white void of anything deep, but the visuals are rich and immersive like nobody's business.

1 comment:

Heisenberg said...

hey half,

ok we kinda went through the same process. Absolutely stunned by the world and the experience, but as reality set in so did some disappointment.

But even with the lame stereotypes, in his middle-aged, middle-class middling-mind way, Cameron tried to find some narrative way to show a world where everything is "connected" literally. Something the other lame middle-aged, middle-class middling-mind types can see actualized in front of their eyes - like a super-gaia, if you will. Perhaps it will get into their dreams.

Simple perhaps, but an expensive commercial for "mother earth".