Saturday, December 19, 2009

POPped Review: 'Avatar'

**Spoilery Alert?**

Leading up to this weekend there has been much talk, much hype and much speculation about 'Avatar'. And in my mind.. it was all true. 'Avatar' is one of the
best movie experiences I've had in a long time. Over the weekend much debate will be had. There will be those that love it, those that hate it, and those that need to see it again to figure out what they just saw. Let me start off by saying that when you see it, you NEED to see it in IMAX 3D. Once the 3D immerses you in the world of Pandora, there is no other way to experience it. As the main character of Sully learns about this world, we learn along with him. We experience it for the first time with him. And we truly are experiencing it for the first time. But we'll get into the look and technology of the movie in a bit. Let's explore the story a little shall we?

**I'm not going to warn you again..**

We meet Sully right off the bat as he is convinced to take his twin brothers place in an experiment on the planet of Pandora. As we land on the planet we find out that Sully was a Marine who had been injured and is now paralyzed from the waist down. After meeting others that arrived with him we get right into the heart of the matter. They are there to mine a rock that's worth a lot of money and the company running the show makes it known that they don't care about anything more than that. However they are also a part of a science project where humans are put in a very small pod and are given mental control of an alien that has been created just for them. It's their avatar. (Get it? It's not just a clever name.) They are 10 foot tall creatures known as the Na'vi. By occupying this body, Sully can now walk again, and do much more. While the head scientist, played by Sigourney Weaver, wants him to truly learn about the Na'vi..almost like a missionary; the military and corporate heads want him to gain their trust and provide information about their way of life and how they can defeat them. While it comes as no surprise, Sully gains a respect and bond with them that of course means he is conflicted with doing his mission. While everyone in charge is using him for their own gain, he is also using them to gain a new life.

The story themes are nothing new here. We've all seen a movie where it comes down to one's own self-discovery to stand up for what's right. But that isn't an issue here. While the themes are the same, it is told in a way that draws you in. By being in a world that we've never seen before we are also on a journey of self-discovery. As Sully runs and leaps through Pandora in his Avatar body, there is a child-like sense of wonder as he is amazed at his surroundings. I felt the same thing. I've already heard some critics think that because most people keep talking about the look of the movie that must mean that it's a bad movie. This isn't it at all. The look of this planet is central to the plot. In order for the story to succeed we need to also be upset about the planets destruction, and it works. Pandora is an amazing creation. It is one of the most original creations since Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings films. But it goes beyond that in some aspects because Peter Jackson had Tolkien's works to reference, but this is a world that had to be made from the ground up.

Again, some of you may think that talking up the look rather than the story is a way of saying the movie sucks. Au contraire, mon frère. They need each other to exist. The characters of the Na'vi and some of the best CG work that has been done since Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Which makes sense, because Peter Jackson's effects studio (WETA) is responsible for this. From looking at the subtle expressions on their faces, to the exhaust pouring out of the armed walkers the Marines use; the attention to detail is astounding. But it goes beyond that in this movie. These details are even more vivid because of the 3D element. And the 3D technology used for this movie is the best feature film 3D...ever. I say this because it wasn't used as a gimmick. It was used as a tool for not only telling the story, but immersing you in it. In what are "simple" scenes of Sully talking to the camera while making his daily video journals, it feels like you are seeing a hologram from the future. And when he is in the world of Pandora, you want to walk around explore even more. It's a world of beauty (where the ground lights up at night like the 'Billie Jean' video) and danger (some big ass animals with an attitude). And with the Na'vi there are shades of how Cameron has been influenced by Native American, Aborigine and African culture. It translates by not only their love and connection with the planet, but through their traditions and even the music score. James Horner helps bring the universe to life with his music. But, I do have to honestly say that song in the end credit felt totally out of place. But for that really being my only complaint, that's not a whole lot to keep me away from seeing it again. And see it again I am will definitely do.

I cannot recommend enough that you see Avatar, and see it soon. But you have to see it in IMAX 3D and sit in the center of the theater. Seeing it any other way is just a rip off for your senses.

1 comment:

  1. They call me Mister TubbyDecember 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    I've already seen it twice!