Avatar – thoughts from a latecomer


I went to see Avatar at Birmingham’s IMAX last night, in fancy 3D with the big glasses and everything. It was… okay. Visually, very impressive, but overall, not wonderful.

Or to quote Sigourney Weaver quite early on in the film:

“What’s wrong with this picture?”
Well, the first 30 minutes feels like being hit repeatedly over the head with a stick – a stick that looks like an elaborately carved wooden totem but is actually just some stagehand waving a broom in front of a green screen. Every shot, almost every frame!) seems like it was designed to shock and awe with its 3D cleverness. Even if you’re not watching it in 3D, I’m sure it would have a similar effect but it did feel like Cameron was constantly looking for ways to film a very deep, long room with lots of perspective, or make an arrow ‘leap’ out of the screen in your eye. After the first 40 minutes or so, this wore off and I became slightly less aware of the visual impact, which is probably a good thing. The occassional shot would bring on a sense of vertigo that was quite powerful, but otherwise, the film trundled on, making way for the pedestrian plotline and terrible script.

Also, the idea of Giovani Ribisi’s head in 20 foot 3D glory is slightly preposterous.

Patronising, transparent devices
Without giving anything away the main character is basically thrown into a situation where he’s visiting a new place, and also experiencing something very new to do with his body. As he goes through all this his jaw slackens, his eyes widen and it’s pretty obvious we are supposed to be experiencing the 3D through his eyes. We too are being exposed to something new and amazing that will change the face of cinema forever, etc. The camera pans across a dense jungle forest – he gasps, we gasp. One person did walk out near the end but I think she was just bored, rather than terrified of the 3D in the same way that people responded to the Lumiere Brothers’ train.

“We’re going to take this to another level!”
Yes, this is the quality of the script, someone actually said this. In a multi-million pound film mind, not Eastenders. Avatar is full of cheesy lines like this. The plot is pretty standard action movie fare, with an eco spin of course, and a thinly veiled criticism of the war on terror.

I could probably say lots more that others have said before me, so I won’t. In short, it is actually not the worst way to spend 2hrs 40 of your time, but I wouldn’t bother unless you’re interested in the visual effects.

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One Response to Avatar – thoughts from a latecomer

  1. Anonymous says:

    Completely agree. The plot is very predictable and the effects? well i think Timeouts review also sums it up quite well: http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/87977/avatar.html?cpage=14&ccat=11

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