Thursday, December 31, 2009

Drama Review: Avatar (2009)

First, I must say I am stunned. Not necessarily by James Cameron's Avatar, but by the fact that I managed to find any time to see a 160 minute-long movie! I got to finish 2009 by partaking in a bit of "film history." Sort of. I'm still reeling. And, yes, I will say that Avatar was visually stunning, if not a whole lot else. The plot was functional enough, better than average sci-fi, but the dialogue was mostly cookie-cutter, dotted with tough-guy one-liners.

To his credit, James Cameron does have a good director's sense of human emotion in the characters, and fortunately the CGI (or "CG") technology has caught up to his sci-fi vision. Did I say "human emotion?" Why, yes I did. But the creatures I am referring to, of course, are the distinctly non-human blue Na'vi aliens, all of whom are 10-foot tall, part ape, part tiger, and part Krishna.

I often hate CGI. I put up with it in some movies, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those movies did very well with CGI and the trick-camera effects so that it wasn't too fake-looking. But a lot of CGI is irritatingly insubstantial. The animated characters generally don't appear as if they're actually interacting with anyone or anything in three-dimensional space.

Avatar avoids that. The blue aliens are enjoyable to watch. They emote convincingly. My favorite parts of the film, however, were the depictions of the alien flora and fauna of the distant moon Pandora. Everything was phosphorescent and seemed primeval, like psychedelic matte paintings out of a dinosaur book. And the fact that the movie was in 3D demonstrates Cameron's confidence that the film would not look fake. Of course, my friend and I opted out of seeing it in IMAX 3D. That might have been just too much.

No comments: