Friday, January 29, 2010

Avatar, More or Less

Today, I saw Avatar in IMAX 3D. Before the movie even started, I was blown away by the 3D previews. Watching a clip from a documentary about the Hubble Telescope, I almost felt as if I were walking in space. So, I had high hopes for Avatar. This 3D thing, I thought, is going to be even more amazing than I expected.

Actually, it turned out to be less than amazing. At first, I felt keenly aware of the extra dimension. The images seemed more immediate, more enveloping. But gradually, I stopped noticing the 3D-ness. The action seemed perhaps a bit closer to me, but other than that, I stopped being aware of anything different from a regular film. It's a phenomenon I've encountered before—the first time I saw a color television; the first time I watched a large-screen tv; the first time I saw a program in HDTV. All those technological advances were astounding until I got used to them, which took about fifteen minutes, the same amount of time it took me to acclimate to the 3D experience of Avatar.

Still, Avatar's special effects are spectacular. The mind-boggling detail and beauty of the fictional world, Pandora, is more than worth the price of admission. And some of the attributes of the Na'vi, the humanoid inhabitants  of Pandora, are delightfully creative— I particularly liked the tendrils that emanate from the long Na'vi braids and link to similar tendrils in horse- and bird-like creatures, enabling the Na'vi to tame and ride them. The Na'vi themselves are gorgeous, with golden feline eyes, blue skin, and the sleekest of physiques. All in all, I found the depiction of the sci fi world more wonderful than I expected.

The story, however, is less than original and the script makes even Sigourney Weaver (the iconic Ellen Ripley in the Alien films) seem pretty lame. As critics have said, if you've seen Dances With Wolves, you basically know the story, although setting the action among an alien race in a fictional world allows for a different twist on the ending. Given that Dances With Wolves came out twenty years ago, perhaps Avatar's creator, James Cameron, can be forgiven for re-telling an age-old story to a new generation.

While this may not seem like a rave review, I urge you to see Avatar, in 3D IMAX if possible. I trust you'll find it a dazzling adventure for your senses, if not the most thought-provoking experience for your mind.

1 comment:

  1. I too thought the 3D good and easy to get accustomed to. The story is green: nature vs. armed capatilists. A bit of cowboys and Indians.