Monday, January 4, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - Avatar

A special Friday afternoon edition of Thursday Night at the Movies.

We've been trying to get out to see this since it opened. Finally, my wife, daughter and I saw it last Friday, on New Year's Day. It is absolutely fabulous. You should go and see it. There is nothing new to the story. The primitive underdogs, against great odds, overcome the ruthless colonial power with the help of several of the oppressors who have "gone native". The off-worlders are after a mineral only available on Pandora, called unobtainium, a nice little throw away joke. But the story made sense, even if you've seen it before, and the cliches were kept to the minimum.You've probably read all about the astonishing special effects. And astonishing they are. Weta and IML were heavily involved in making this movie. Every dollar they spent (and they spent a lot of them) is shown on the screen. But Hellboy II had a lot of great special effects as well, and it stunk. A good story, well told, with the effects, makes this one great movie.
I would guess that at least 80% of the running time (and it's a long movie, almost 3 hours), is effects shots. It must have been very hard on the actors. The forest world that director Cameron creates here is stunningly beautiful, even if the biology doesn't always hold together (it bothered me that some of the large land animals had 6 legs, but others didn't, a pretty minor quibble).
But it all looked so real. The main characters are 8 foot tall aliens with blue skin with phosphorescent dots. They have long tails and long pig tails which enable them to mind meld with the "horses" and flying dragon things. But it was so natural that you just accept it and get on with the story and the action (lots of great action set pieces).

We didn't see it in 3D because my wife gets motion sickness in 3D movies. If you've got that problem, stick with the 2D. There are some scenes which, even in 2D, were motion sickness inducing.

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