Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The last person on earth to see Avatar

It sometimes feels like I'm the penultimate person on earth to see the movie Avatar. I've certainly left it late, so anything to be said about it has been said before. Won't stop me, though. You may not want to read this if you are the last person not to have seen Avatar.

Yes, there are *SPOILERS*.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. Storyline? Full of holes and derivative. It's not an original observation, but this was Pocohontas in Space. Boring. To be fair, the way the indigenous people defeated the hi tech invaders wasn't as preposterous as it seems at first sight. We've plenty of real life examples of temporary setbacks when a big powerful hi tech nation takes on the locals. But the chances are high their victory would be short-lived. And there were far too many opportunities for the baddies to interrupt the avatar controlling process that weren't taken. Etc, etc. Oh, and where was this Pandora? Six years away in a sub-light ship? Not many options, and none that would fill the bill.

Of course, you don't need a great storyline if you've wonderful characters to carry the audience along. But no. For a 3D movie, the characters here were predictably cardboard. Everyone did exactly what was expected of them. Everyone was a stock figure from cartoon characters 101. There was chance after chance for development, and all were missed. There were also irritatingly plot hooks that weren't picked up. Firing up the equipment at the remote station, Sigourney Weaver's character says 'this is the least glitchy of them.' Ooh, glitches. Opportunity for interesting developments. Nope. Glitches never arrived.

However. Big, however. As a visual spectacle it was stunning. I gather in 2D it's nowhere near as good, but the 3D was excellent - never tiring on the eyes, usually quite understated, yet very effective. (Admittedly I did long for a few eye-poking bits of 3D exploitation, but we never got any. The only time the 3D surprised was when ash was falling, and seemed to fall in the auditorium.) The graphics were remarkable. When you consider that about 90% of this movie is a sophisticated cartoon - no live action - it came across as startlingly real. The graphics were good enough to sustain this long film. It was interesting that the only time I dropped out of being absorbed by it (as did a fair proportion of the audience from the shuffling noises) was during one of the live action sequences.

So Mr Carpenter should have got a decent writer to give him a better plot and richer characters - but you can't fault the technology (anyone spot the irony in a film in which touchy-feely oneness with nature triumphs over technology?) Remarkable.
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