31 October 2010

An Open Love Letter to Australia, or What I Thought About "Avatar" 3D

ARCHIVE from 12/24/09

Dear Australia,
I would like to thank you for what ever genetic operation you have going on down there. I understand that many attractive actors I consider Australian were in fact born elsewhere, usually England (hola Sam Worthington), I assume the air or the water in Perth or Brisbane or Melbourne is the cause of their good fortune. So, keep up the good work and keep sending them stateside.

Last night, a bunch of buddies and I went to see "Avatar" in 3D (not IMAX, I just can't spend $15 on a movie just yet. Sorry). I wasn't expecting much. Depending on who you read/trust, it was either cheesy/juvenile dialog/boring waste of 3 hours (reviewers) or the greatest thing since sliced bread (entertainers). I've gotta lean more towards "awesome", let me explain.

Was the dialog sometimes a bit over the top, cheesy even? Sure. Was the movie, and the creators of the movie, totally aware that was what they were doing? Absolutely. Show me a war movie that doesn't cash in on one cliche and I'll give you a nickle. On the same note, what SciFi movie isn't rife with absurd one-liners and winking glances? Not a one.

"Avatar" is a message film you don't mind, even if you don't agree with it's message (which would make you a war-mongering, anti-environment, racist). So... If you have been living in a cave, or simply hate movies (and therefore are probably not reading this entry), "Avatar" is about a joint military-science mission to Pandora, a plant rich with a fuel source we desperately need on Earth as we've used all of ours up. The problem is, Pandora is home to the Na'vi, a tribal culture who is not keen on the "skywalkers" making a muck of their planet. The whole thing is underlined with thoughts on god, life, religion, race. Humans can't breath the air on Pandora, so they've designed these Avatar's that look, move, are, just like the indigenous people. Through a bio-link, humans upload themselves into these creature shells and try to interact with the Na'vi.

Pretty standard story, you can imagine what happens, but you get sucked into the beauty of the world, the decent to great acting, and the overall joyful spirit of the movie.

Cameron has spent years trying to develop the technology needed to bring this story to life. He finally succeeded in what is the most brilliant 3D images I've ever seen. this new tech brings the whole picture to multi-dimensional life with out the bells and whistles usually reserved for 3D. rarely does anything leap out at you or go running right for you. It happens, but very organically, not for wow factor. It takes about 15-20 minutes for your eyes to totally adjust to the glasses (which is fine as the movie is 3 hours- side note: even I couldn't find where to make cuts. 3 hrs probably IS the edited time). The tech isn't perfect yet, objects moving faster than a walk tend to blur unnaturally and other objects that move too close to the camera get lost and actually take you out of the 3D experience, but that's not much of a criticism.

The way the trailer looked online/TV/2D lead to the bummed feeling I had going in. However, and there's a lovely quote from Worthington about this somewhere, the movie was meant to be seen in 3D, in IMAX, it doesn't translate well to your computer. I thought, like my friend Phillip, that the animated portions would look like an extended video game trailer. They don't. Period. However, this 3D only thing will become a big problem when DVD sales roll around, though we are supposed to have 3D HD televisions come spring (but I'm sure I won't be able to afford one). They'll have to sell the movie with multiple glasses and make spares available for purchase as well.
A big congrats to Stephen Lang for his Golden Globe nomination. I guess this proves you can be in an FX latent movie and get recognized. He did a great job, and it's only a shame some of the other actors weren't as well. It must be hard if your performance is entirely motion capture (Zoe Saldana) or at least majority (everyone else). Oh well... baby steps.

With that, I'm off. I hope you all enjoy your free day/holiday tomorrow. May I suggest you see Avatar 3D during the boredom that is Christmas afternoon? I will be at Sherlock Holmes. Here's hoping it isn't as rubbish as the reviews are making it out to be.

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