Avatar 3D

 Posted by on January 2, 2010  Add comments
Jan 022010
 

I went to see Avatar tonight with the Bullet and neither of us had a whole heap of expectations for it.  He’s even fussier than I am, though I don’t know where he got that characteristic from.  We expected to see some pretty good 3D effects,  and probably some fairly convincing computer-generated imagery, all wrapped around a convenient, if vacuous, plot-vehicle to justify the tech-trickery and to keep the value-for-money lobby quiet.

Instead, along with another four hundred Michael Caine impersonators, we got —

a cracking yarn, a completely-formed imaginary world, utterly convincing aliens, action, suspense, drama, taut interaction between the characters and a love story thrown in for good measure.  We got a very bad baddie, an evil corporation, a gigantic battle, and the best 3-dimensional effects I have ever seen.

About twelve years ago I saw the early versions of Disney’s 3D technology during a family holiday in Florida, so I was curious to know how it had evolved.

Here’s the answer: it’s evolved beyond recognition.

In this movie, you’re right there in the middle of the action and I have no idea how they do it.  Obviously, we both stole our glasses after the show, and therefore, tomorrow, I’ll conduct an experiment by rotating Bullet’s lens against mine to see if they’re polarised or if they have an interference grid etched on them.  If not, I’m stumped.  Out of ideas.  Any clever people here know how it’s done?

The special effects are staggering.  From the early publicity about this movie, you’d think the planet was populated by a race of Jar-Jar Binks lookalikes which in itself would be enough to nuke the whole place forthwith, but no.  It isn’t.  The characters are so  well-realised, and their movement is so well-rendered, that you forget you’re looking at a glorified cartoon.  For the duration of the film, you believe them.  You get to like them.  You identify with them.

The cyphers are real, and the human actors become empty  props.  It’s Roger Rabbbit in reverse.

I’m not going to pretend that the plot isn’t a little schmaltzy in places, but Cameron’s touch is light enough, and whenever he’s in danger of straying into the lake of syrup, he steps back just in time.

Stephen Lang’s ludicrous Duke Nukem-style Colonel Quaritch evokes every US military stereotype in cinematic history, but you don’t mind because that’s what he’s there for.  Sigourney Weaver’s sub-Ripley character screams Alien but you understand and accept the allusion.

Occasionally,  the Iraq / Afghanistan / Vietnam /Emerald Forest parallel is laid on a bit too thick.  You want to tell Cameron, OK James, we get it.  Thanks, but apart from that I have no serious gripes.  I’m a sucker for action movies and a strongish plot is a bonus.  I don’t mind, for the sake of the story, suspending disbelief and accepting some of the more outlandish notions of oneness with the planet.  That’s what SF fans do all the time, unless they happen to be literal-minded, obese nerds who speak  fluent Klingon.  Throw in the best special effects you’ve ever seen and stunning 3D, and really, you know, what’s to complain about?

I’ve read sniffy reviews that don’t like the similarity in theme to Dances With  Wolves.  Other people have spoken of Pocahontas or the Last of the Mohicans.and I can only presume that they’re looking for a brand new story.  Unfortunately, the last original story was written in ancient Greece.

I know Avatar nods to the rest of the canon, but so what?  Yes, Sigourney Weaver is there — looking great, by  the way — and there are many echoes of Aliens motifs, including the stasis and the drops, just as there are hints at a hundred other movies, but guess what — this picture was made by a movie guy.  Where did people think he took his references from – cave paintings?

If you haven’t seen it already, do yourself a favour and watch it in  the cinema.  This one won’t measure up on a home entertainment system, so whatever you do, get out and see it.  Check your critical faculties at the door.  Forget all the condescending, cerebral, sniffy old bores.  Instead, get a bucket of popcorn or a tray of nachos and just enjoy the spectacle.

You  won’t regret your decision.

_______________

Elsewhere

Gizmodo

Empire

Wired

Den of Geek

  21 Responses to “Avatar 3D”

Comments (21)
  1.  

    Well, after a mf review like that, I have no choice but to go see it!

    Ta boss.

  2.  

    ‘for the sake of the story, suspending disbelief and accepting some of the more outlandish notions of oneness with the planet. ‘.. now that’s hardly suspending disbelief is it?! :)

  3.  

    Spot on review. A big family group of us went to the 3d Odeon in Belfast on New Years Eve. I had been thinking of the 3 hour length and of finding an excuse to get out of going but just got carried along by the festive spirit. Didn’t have a clue what this Avatar film was about but got on the 3d specs and sat back and…..was absolutely stunned. It was awesome. The time passed too quickly. It could probably have been 6 hours long and you wouldn’t have noticed. It was beautiful and seemless and afterwards we all walked out of the theatre with big smiles and looks of amazement on our faces. All of us, children and adults, loved it. Do as Bock says and go see it in 3d, I am afraid it might loose impact in 2d and on DVD although you never know. One thing about that Odeon and in fact the whole Victoria centre in Belfast though. It feels as if it was carved into the permafrost of the Siberian Tundra and the cinema air conditioning was set to try and cool it even more.

  4.  

    Stew — Go off and enjoy it.

    Audrey — Have you seen the film?

    Parallaxco — I think the 3D adds something to it, though I think they probably need to work a bit on the foicus at times.

  5.  

    Saw this in 3D IMAX. It was pretty much what I expected, a conventional SF soap opera with very good CGI. I thought the 3D was no more than a gimmick, but at least Cameron had the decency not to have things squirting into the camera. After Jaws 3D, one of the worst movies I ever saw, one review I read said 3D had a future in porn. I hope 3D fails to catch on, if it succeeds there’s going to be a lot of dreadful film-making. Avatar avoided the obvious mistakes, but who needs 3D depth in a scene? It’s a gimmick. (Do I sound like one of the characters in Singing in the Rain? But sound caught on immediately, whereas 3D has been around for decades.)

    I thought the film was interesting politically. After spending $0.5B, you don’t want to cause any controversy that gives rise to boycotts, but the parallels with Iraq are unmistakable (notice that the “soldiers” had seen previous action in Venezuala and Nigeria) and frankly better done than anything else that Hollywood has offered for the last 8 years. In Aliens you rooted for the jarheads, warts and all. In this film, the jarheads are unmistakably the agents of a brutal colonialist power, you’re rooting for them to be killed. Someone said that all great artists steal; in this case, the film that was most obviously stolen from was Fern Gully, I’ve heard it described as Fern Gully With Guns.

    And let’s get one thing clear, at sixty years old, Sigourney Weaver is HOT.

  6.  

    Thanks, Bock.
    We have made a couple of attempts to go and see this one, but the weather got us (nearest cinema is 18 miles away, and doesn’t have the 3D version, so we’ll have to journey 30ish miles to see the real thing).
    We’re hoping to go this evening, especially now having read your positive critique.

  7.  

    thanks for the tip, sugar! seriously, i had no idea avatar was in 3d. i thought it was just the latest in cgi spectaculars. i’ll have to see if i can round up a group and head off to the flicks! (just so you know, i wasn’t even planning on seeing this movie!) xoxoxoxox

  8.  

    Haven’t seen it yet Bock, but on your recommendatoion I’ll give it a go.. thanks.

  9.  

    Once you see it, you’ll understand what I mean about oneness with the planet.

  10.  

    Great review Bock,went to see it in Storm before Christmas.What a brilliant evenings entertainment.This has to be seen in 3D in the cinema,I don’t think even Blu-ray would do it justice on a home set up.

  11.  

    Great film with some jaw-dropping effects. I particularly liked the hard-ass Colonel. As you mentioned, he’s every American military stereotype rolled into one. I give the film 9.5 out of ten. I deduct the half point as a result of Sigourney Weaver’s character smoking in the presence of her work colleagues.

  12.  

    Some times “less is more”, strip away the novelty 3D and your left with a script lifted from “DANCES WITH WOLVES”,, 300 million dollars and 12 years in preperation… Like GUNS N ROSES long awaited album CHINESE DEMOCRACY, was it really worth waiting for, I think not… Perhaps its just me being fussy, but i want to see a film that has as much care and attention to detail on the script and story as it does on the look… Case in point.. “DISTRICT 9”, ( 30 million dollars ) not a wasted line of dialogue in a smart thought provoking script, and guess what, along with a timely message of human tolerance this film manages to entertain and still look fantastic for less than the cost of “AVATARS” advertising budget… JIM CAMERON is a great action director, I do however wonder if this film is’nt his “HEAVENS GATE”, creatively speaking…Will time judge “AVATAR” the visual feast a success, yes, will it change the way we see movies in the cinema, yes.. will it sit along side the classic sci fi ( of which JC is a significant contributor ) movies of all time…. Not a hope in hell…..

  13.  

    Bock, one of the twins insists on making a comment about your article. Here he comes. Its the greatest film that ever was shown on the big screen XD, greetings from Noah!!( one of the twins).

  14.  

    Well, hello Noah!! My son agrees with you.

  15.  

    My name is Johannes and and I am the other twin. We are 12 years old and have the same DNA. We are Avatrs. Thank you Bock.

  16.  

    Johannes — You are avatars of each other. Wonderful.

  17.  

    i thought avatar was awesome, you can check out my review here… http://www.mrlocspoc.com/530/james-cameron-releases-avatar-3d-7-years-too-late/

  18.  

    adelaide, sorry but afraid my kids and I read your review and one said in Ali G speak “is it cos i’m blue?”, they and I liked Bocks and this review better http://www.strike-the-root.com/node/25929 but we are in agreement Avatar is awesome.

  19.  

    Adelaide dj is a bit of a spammer.

  20.  

    Finally got to see Avatar yesterday.
    We loved it and the Na’vi.
    I don’t understand people who say the story was poor – there were lots of layers to this film.
    We’re too used too instant gratification and stating the obvious.

  21.  

    Bock, the twins insist on makeing further comments. Here they come. Noah says” I wish to protest about the Pope (The old man with a big hat) saying that Avatar is evil and bad. He said the same thing about Harry Potter which I love. Dumbledor for Pope. Thank you Bock. Here comes Twin no 2 Johannes. “Den där dönick fattar ingenting. Det är vi som är framtiden fattar han väl. Han kan väl göra egna filmer och ger fan i våran. Tack Bock. Here comes a translation. That old codger understands nothing, we are the future or does he not understand that. He can make his own films and leave ours alone. That ends the messages from the twins.

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