Monday, December 21, 2009

Yeah, we saw Avatar.

Yes, yes, we surrendered to popular culture and went to see Avatar yesterday. Let's talk about it for a minute.

First, the obvious stuff. Visually, it's pretty much unlike anything you've ever seen. Incidentally, if you don't see it in 3-D, don't bother. I can't imagine it looking right without the 3-D. There are some black plastic Buddy Holly glasses you get. The 3-D looks pretty amazing.

Now, having said that, it doesn't look real. I mean, you're not going to forget you're watching a movie. The alien characters, who are all done with CGI, don't look like they really exist in a real way. But that doesn't mean they're not cool to look at. Anyway, I think Tom Maurstad from the Dallas Morning News pretty much nailed it:
At more than 2 ½ hours, Avatar is full of overlong sequences of flying and fighting in which Cameron just can't resist showcasing all the cool things he can do with his computers and cameras. And it is cool. But all this "change the way you look at films" hype is just that. While Avatar is impressively seamless, you're never fooled. This doesn't look like a documentary film; it looks like a video game.
Since this is a James Cameron movie, the dialogue is terrible, sometimes cringingly bad. You know, if Cameron would let somebody talented write the dialogue for his films, he would really have something. He's got the visual part down, but if you could watch "Titanic," for example, without groaning repeatedly at the ridiculous dialogue, you're a stronger person than I.

Does this look like a real person to you? Me neither.

So yeah, it's a spectacle and it's going to make a ton of money (so far, $232 million, if you count foreign and domestic, and it's only been out FOUR DAYS) and if I keep trying to judge it on its merits as a film, rather than as an event, I guess I'm not going to get anywhere. So, by all means, go see it.

Also, it should be about a half-hour shorter, but I guess once you develop all new 3-D technology, you want to use it.

[UPDATE: IRONY ALERT!!!!! - I just saw this interview with Cameron and Peter Jackson, and Cameron says: "People often ask us about the future of filmmaking because we've both been innovators in the last few years, creating cutting-edge stuff that gets widely or narrowly adopted. I think the simple answer is that filmmaking is not going to ever fundamentally change. It's about storytelling. It's about humans playing humans. It's about close-ups of actors." No additional comment from me needed, right? L O L.]

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