The Avatar Experience

Hey Guys,

So it’s been a while since my last post. I hope everybody had a great holiday season, and is ready to get back into the full swing of things.

This winter break, the idea of technology has come full circle for me. Let me first start off with the low, a distant dead technology that has suddenly creeped up onto me. Dial-up internet. Yes, you read correct, and this is the reason I haven’t been able to post anything. But moving on to the high point of technology, let’s discuss James Cameron’s sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, romance, action block-buster “Avatar”.

The day I left to go home, I decided with a group of friends to watch this “Avatar” movie everybody was talking about. We got a couple of vehicles together and carpooled while some us bussed it up to Mississauga, expecting to catch the Wednesday mid-afternoon IMAX screening. When we got there, much to my surprise, I read on the screen “Sold Out”. It was a Wednesday, and all the shows for the day were sold out. That was the first time I have ever experiences not being able to watch a movie because it was sold out. OUTCOME: It sort of confirmed and amplified all the hype coming in to the theatres.

Ahh well, what can you do? We decided to make the most of the day. We came to watch “Avatar” and we were going to watch it today. So we decided to watch the next non-IMAX show. We bought our tickets, and headed for the line towards the silver screen. This was perhaps the most chaotic line I’ve ever seen. You didn’t really know which direction the line was supposed to go, but we sort of all just jumbled into the area nonetheless. Now we enter the theatre, and within 2 minutes, most of the good seats are taken. Coming to the theatres with a group of 12 people, you might understand how difficult it is to secure seats that are remotely decent. We scavenge for as many seats as possible, and the trailers begin.

I have never seen a 3D pic and I don’t wear glasses, so putting on the Real3D googles made my eyes cross and kind of gave me a headache, but I managed to sit through the trailers. Funny thing though, as I would constantly lift the glasses to see what was 3D and what wasn’t, and it kind of confused me at first, but when the signal for “FEATURE PRESENTATION” came onto the screen, my worries and confusion was put on the shelf, and I became focused.

Then the film began.

Wow.

The very first scene blew my mind. It really wasn’t anything I was expecting. I had heard that James Cameron had put an enormous amount of detail into the film, and understanding that I had never seen a 3D film before, I really did not know what to expect, but what I saw, in literally the first 3 seconds of the film, is what will stick with me about this film.

You actually feel as if you are a part of the world Cameron created, and if that’s the point of 3D, then I suggest all major studios incorporate it into their films. It might go down as the most expensive film in history, the greatest risk in modern day cinema, but for what its worth, it works.

The next 30 minutes or so are used for character development, and as interesting as the characters are, they are not what made the movie for me. Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, all act decently well, but none of their preformances for the first 30 minutes really stand out. The story that is generated is set up very nicely though.

When the characters, namely Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) along with Norm Spellman (Joel Moore) enter the lush green and natural wonder that is Pandora, the adventure begins.

I can’t really explain what I felt while watching the movie because it was a very long one, but I do remember that I wanted the scenes in Pandora to continue. As Sully says in one of his video blogs, the film really blurs the lines between the two very different realities.

Its philosophical premises incorporates such themes as the Environment, Knowledge, and brings a physical incarnation of the world of forms and ideas, while also reflecting on the internet.

As many critics have pointed out, the film really does remind me of Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves”, but it also reminded me of Disney’s “Pocahontas”. The story is not original, however the way it is executed is as creative as it gets in terms of cinematography.

They say James Cameron dreamed the planet of Pandora into fruition. They say he thought of all the organisms many many years ago, and only recently had the opportunity to put those ideas onto the the screen. The technology that the film required was apparently invented and evolved as the picture came to be, which means that another movie like this will require film-makers to learn the technology all over again, and will thus take a long time. This film has been in the works for about a decade now according to Cameron so no wonder why there’s so much detail.

Many movies nowadays use CGI to display eye-numbing action sequences. Recent films like “Transformers-Revenge of the Fallen”, “District 9” and “Star Trek” use CGI for raising the bar in terms of action sequences, but this movie is different. My favourite use of CGI in “Avatar” was its implementation into the romantic sequence between the two main protagonists. This isn’t really a spoiler because any movie goer, or any person who has the slightest sense of expectation would assume Saldana’s Neytiri, and Worthington’s Sully to become romantically involved. It’s a given, but the way they show the bond between the two is actually quite sweet.

I’ll admit it. I like watching movies like “Love Actually” and “The Notebook”. They are fun, and you really don’t have to think, just watch it to enjoy it. They are not brash and head hurting, and you know you’ll get an ending out of it that won’t be terrifying, so watching how the bond between Sully and Neytiri was a good break from the usual action sequences after action sequences common in today’s movies.

Soaking up the planet is a daunting task especially when you consider that each scene is different, they don’t really recycle the organisms from one shot to another, and they sort of created everything from scratch. This just shows there was an enormous amount of work put into the film.

I won’t reveal mush more about the plot. Just what I thought of it as a whole.

I thought the movie was short. There wasn’t anything wrong with how long the movie was, it was 2 hours 40 minutes in length, but I honestly could have sat for another 20 minutes of so, just to make it an even 3 hours. I enjoyed the scenes on Pandora more than the ones on the spacecraft or base station, but understand they were for plot developments and for showing the duality in the lives of the characters, and that is no fault to the director (maybe the producers aiming for a time limit). My favorite scenes far outweighed those that lacked. I especially didn’t like Stephen Lang for the first 30 min, and felt he was overacting a bit much.

I thought the film was a visual delight, and will hold up very well into the future as the future of 3D film. Its box-office power is already something to behold, generating $1 Billion in 17 days and counting, and it looks like I will move into 2nd place behind Titanic (another James Cameron international blockbuster). Avatar’s foreign haul is something to behold. It might give Titanic a run for its money, but when adjusted for inflation, perhaps not. Still though, if you were to adjust for inflation, it’s have to duke it out with the likes of Gone With The Wind and Star Wars. Its number1 three weeks in a row, and that’s something to note too. Another thing to realize is that James Cameron is now the only director to hold two movies with $1 billion plus gross. Neigh-sayers can say neigh no more to Mr. Money and it should once again crown him as the champion of the box office.

In terms of a rating: I’d give it:

9.2/10

I choose this because it really was a great movie, its something I think everybody should see, not once, but multiple times as there’s so much to absorb and the story telling is brilliant, and the themes are very relevant to today’s times and will be relevant into the future. Also I’d like everyone to appreciate the movie for what it is, a great movie that entertains you to your core.

Its not the most original film, but it does a great job nonetheless.

Watch it and you will enjoy it.

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