Friday, January 22, 2010

'Twas my birthday and AVATAR

Yesterday, amongst dumping rain and a slight cause of the blues, it was my birthday.

Celebration was had. I turned a year older and the world just kept churning on by. Birthdays are strange and I could write a novel on my internal monologue each and every year, but, I won't 'cause I've got better things to talk about.

As my good friend and roommate JM took me, as a swell birthday treat, to a sold-out 3-D, IMAX screening of James Cameron's Avatar.

Not surprisingly, I had a few thoughts.

The Film: Avatar
The Director: James Cameron (The Abyss, Terminator 1 & 2, Titanic)

The Experience: Yon Marcum, myself, and a packed house of hilarious 3-D glasses wearing film dorks, mouths agape as flying dragons, ash, and soul flowers blew past our incredulous eyes. Quite honestly, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else as the first day of my 28th year ticked on by.

Something Interesting: You've heard it all. This film is a beast of hype and word-of-mouth and I can't say anything else interesting except for the fact that it only took 17 days for it to break a billion dollars and it's already being speculated that the film will break the 2 billion mark. It surely was strange to be sitting in a sold out theatre on a Thursday afternoon. James Cameron, you are a rich rich man.

Quick Notes:

1. 3-D makes us all film dorks.

There's something to say about this film and the entire immersive quality of this film's 3-D experience that a theatre full of all ages, races, creeds, and whatnot, all placed enormous 3-D glasses over their eyes and stared, mouths agape at a screen filled with blue-skinned warriors and plane eating dragons. In the arms of James Cameron and this amazing world he's created, we're all film dorks.

2. Call me an Avatar convert.

Everyone has told me how great this film is. Everyone has told me how amazing the world Cameron's created is. Every reviewer is creaming their short pants over the film. And all this hype, it made me wary. Perhaps the PR folk at Lightstorm had out done themselves in persuading the audience to look past Cameron's inability to be brief, to craft dialogue, to step outside the enormous trappings of the sci-fi genre. Was this a gut bomb in the same way Lord of the Rings were? Was I going to leave the theater disappointed as I was after both Two Towers and Return of the King?

Nope. Not at all. This is everything I wanted in a 500 million dollar movie. Epic landscapes, expansive battle scenes, an entire fucking world crafted from the excessively talented minds Cameron culled to bring this thing to life. It's a roaring lion of filmmaking excess in the best way possible. The kind of film that hasn't been brought to life in such an epic manor since Cameron dropped Titanic. And before that since the truly amazing epics of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Cameron, you big pompous asshole, I salute you. Now just give one third of the money you've made to Haiti and I'll love you even more.

3. Stop hating haters.

If I hear the comparison between Last of the Mohicans and Dance With Wolves one more time I'm going to fletch myself an arrow and take some revenge. If I hear one more time that this film has a shitty script, similar things will happen. If James Cameron had spent a single extra second on making a big, over-complicated script with deep characters and original ideas, more time would've had to be spent focusing on these characters. We wouldn't have had the luxury, yes luxury, of just sinking back in to the comfortable archetypes Cameron hands over here and enjoying the sheer all-encompassing world laid out before us. And yes, this story line is old and played out, but in a way that feels embracing not irritating. I'm was entertained by the characters, not repelled, and even with such simplistic stories bouncing about I still felt as if I missed out on so much going on in the background. I'm not giving Cameron a pass as a fantastic writer, I'm just saying that the script he created was exactly what the Na'vi and the world of Pandora demanded.

4. Sam Worthington?

I'm confused about Sam Worthington. I assumed he was another Russell Crowe, a big, jockish brute of an actor, but one graced with a certain sort of weight, a gravitas even. Yet, Worthington is a particular sort of blandness suited more for underwear modeling than leading a film. Surrounded by actors such as Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi, Worthington comes off as a ball of bland puff. At times, when he was swathed in CGI, I felt almost as if his words had been muffled, or dampened by James Cameron, knowing full well that this actor was bringing nothing but a certain physical presence to the roll. I'm curious in the months to come, what with Clash of the Titans rolling out if Worthington's star will fade.

Final Thoughts: Put your reservations about big, cheesy sci-fi on the shelf and go see this film. You will be blown away.

1 comment:

David said...

When people bring this up as being anything more than gorgeous spectacle, then I bring up the shitty script. And ferngully. That said, I was surprisingly affected it by it's overall theme, but that's cuz I'm a pussy.