I saw Avatar in Imax 3D in the front row last night. I figured that if I was gonna go into Little Jimmy Cameron’s magical world, I was gonna go all in. Hooo-hah!
Besides, I had heard from friends that the story was stupid, so if I was only gonna see it once, I was gonna go for the optimum visual impact. I only saw Titanic once as well, but I’ll never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go. I am grateful that Avatar doesn’t have a dumbass ballad sung by Celine Dion. It’s sung by someone else.
Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a slam of Little Jimmy because I really like his Aliens movie. In fact, Avatar is like Aliens in many ways. They both have one word titles that start with the letter A (The Abyss has a The). Both Aliens and Avatar have Sigourney Weaver (okay, that’s obvious).
Both movies require the humans to go into a cryogenic sleep for their long journey to a distant planet where they will meet strange creatures. Both movies have a big mean corporation interested only in making a profit and a spineless middle manager (Paul Reiser in Aliens and Giovanni Ribisi in Avatar) calling the shots. Both movies have a grunt hero (Michael Biehn and Sam Worthington) who might not know a lot but has a natural leadership ability that kicks in at just the right moment. Both movies have a geeky science guy who helps out when necessary. Both movies have a big mechanical suit. In Aliens, it’s the loader Ripley uses to fight the alien. In Avatar, it’s a bad ass military body armor and gun ship.
Oh, and space marines! I almost forgot the space marines. Both movies have space marines. In the space marines, there is one kick ass female who will die in the third act. However, this kick ass female is not the heroine who also kicks ass and does not die. Cameron’s heroines are usually still standing at the end of his movies. I was worried about Rose nearly succumbing to hypothermia in the North Atlantic, but she blew that whistle. Oh how she blew. She’s a survivor, our Rose is.
Finally, in true Little Jimmy style, like in Aliens, a lot of shit gets blown up in Avatar. It’s not enough to have a beautiful forest filled with strange plants and animals and an indigenous population with some kick ass ritual. No, Cameron needs to bring in the great balls of fire, ash raining down from the sky, and lots of BOOM in super stereo. This ain’t no Disney ride---although some of the glowing trees reminded me of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. However, the trees do not move and attack like the Ents did, and that was a little disappointing.
But what did I really think of it all? About a third of the way in, I realized I was watching the Kevin Costner movie, Dances with Wolves. Instead of the Sioux, there were the Nah-vee (Na-Vi? The blue people). Instead of dancing with a wolf to show the connection of the hero to the natural world, the hero in Avatar becomes friendly with a swarm of illuminated flying jellyfish. I didn’t mind that I was watching Dances with Wolves. At least it wasn’t Waterworld or The Postman. Okay, that was a cheap shot. Maybe Little Jimmy’s follow-up to Avatar could be about an aging catcher who must mentor a hot young pitcher on a minor league baseball team called the Pandora Bulls.
However, I could not ponder Kevin Costner’s filmography for long while watching Avatar because dirt and leaves and stuff kept flying into my face. Then, Little Jimmy kept doing these shots that I had never seen before. At one point, instead of following his characters under a branch, the camera went over it and through a small opening. Whoah. That’s. . .okay. . .whoah. Trippy. Okay, I’m impressed. All this visual stuff and he’s still playing with the camera. Hot damn, Little Jimmy.
As I watched and watched, my eyes were filled with colors and shapes and images. However, the film wasn’t giving me much more than what I was seeing. It wasn’t going into the unseen. Everything was shown, and very little was taken on faith. Then again, the invisible is not as pretty or as expensive. When I walked out of the theatre, I knew I had been to just another cinematic thrill with a climatic battle chuck full of shell casings and explosions.
When I got home last night, the corneas in my eyes were still burning. Okay, maybe not exactly, but you get the idea. I turned on a DVD of Dr. Who with David Tennant and Catherine Tate. I have been enjoying the episodes especially after the overhyped exit episode for David Tennant. I sat and relaxed my eyes while listening to the hyperdrive banter between the Doctor and his companion. Ah, the great Catherine Tate. If she was in Avatar, that movie would have really kicked ass. Oy! Blue Boy!
Here’s a clip of a skit she did for Comic Relief two years ago. Yes, I'm ending my Avatar review with a bang.