Entertainment Today and Beyond

Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

Avatar is The King of the World

By: Contributing Editor Michael Cooper

When Avatar first hit screens at a Comic-Con sneak preview this past summer it took the wind out of my sails. I had been hearing about it for years and now it was considered just okay by most and disappointing by some. I thought WOW, James Cameron’s first movie in 14 years was just okay!!!!

When the first trailer hit the Internet, I finally had to admit it was a bit under-whelming after years of anticipation. The so-called critics then proclaimed this would be the last of the big budget movies because the nearly 400 million-dollar behemoth would never recover its costs. I began to resign myself to the fact that it would never live up to my great expectation and maybe I would wait on the DVD release.

Then it hit I-Max Theaters in all of its Cameron 3-D glory and the criticism disappeared with nearly 100 percent positive reviews pouring in. Getting a ticket to Avatar rivaled the most cherished sporting events. 

Sold out theaters spelled big box office and, all of a sudden, the entertainment industry started discussing whether it could topple Dark Knight and The Return of the King but, of course, nobody would consider Titanic, sitting at the top with the ladder pulled up. Not until now anyway, as only James Cameron could topple himself at the box office making Avatar his new King of the World and the #1 biggest moneymaker in movie history. 

Finally my sails were restored and I began my first of three attempts to see this movie.  After avoiding yet another sold out line I purchased pre-paid tickets on the Internet. Now would it be worth the wait. I was among a party of four in a crowded no reserve screening room and, despite arriving 25 minutes early, we were still forced to sit on the second row and I began to think…No…I’ll never be able to take this movie in from these seats. Boy was I wrong – there are no bad seats. I was transported to Pandora as soon as the movie began and didn’t regain consciousness until the army of credits began rolling nearly 3 hours later. I felt I had experienced the actual Avatar transference and was now back in my box with my brain racing.

This experience immediately took me back 33 years to my first viewing of Star Wars. It was an event that changed everything I had ever seen at the movies. Cameron had given me a slight taste with both Aliens and Terminator 2, but Avatar was the complete 3-course meal. 

This movie masterpiece has changed everything about movies and industry copycat productions are already underway. Sony announced a Spiderman reboot in glorious 3-D and I will always wonder if Spiderman would have been Avatar if the deal with Cameron hadn’t fallen through. Well I sure hope they use Cameron’s technology because this was 3-D as it has never been filmed before. Why? Because I never once thought about it.
3-D was just another character in the movie.

Cameron has given the motion picture industry the secret to overcoming DVD pirates and even the most sophisticated home theater systems – at least for now.

I couldn’t even imagine watching Avatar in 2-D at a theater, let alone a bootleg DVD or Internet copy. I can only surmise that  the handful of critics who gave this a negative review saw it that way, because it would be a different movie.

The plot certainly borrows from Cameron’s own Aliens film, Giovanni Ribisi’s Parker Selfridge might as well have been Paul Reiser’s Carter Burke.  Sigourney Weaver’s Grace Augustine is Ellen Ripley. Also think back to the climatic battle at the end of the film with Ripley in her Robot loader battling the Queen. 

Cameron had to be thinking about a few of his other classic characters when developing this story, with Stephen Lang’s portrayal of Colonel Miles Quaritch having some real Terminator type qualities. As for Sam Worthington, he reminded me of  Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson from Titanic undergoing a transformation of character from the beginning to the end of the film.

Cameron’s plot relies heavily on our actual history as a brutal people that will do anything to get what we want. The symbolism of the white European coming to the New World to destroy a two thousand year old civilization who believed they were one with the land isn’t missed by me or, I hope, anyone else.

I was actually nodding my head in agreement when the references were made about humans already depleting Earth’s resources in just 150 years from now. Look what we have already done to our planet since the discovery of oil as a fuel at the turn of the 20th century.

Placing precious metals above our own humanity is an age-old story but Cameron gave it his own unique perspective. I loved this movie for transporting me to a place I have never been in films. This is the Star Wars of its generation and I’m sure millions of people will watch this film over and over again and I can’t wait for the sequel. I only hope Cameron doesn’t take another decade and a half to make it, even though it might just take that long if he’s going to try and top it. See this movie and revel in telling the next generation you witnessed the dawn of a new age of filmmaking.

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January 17, 2010 - Posted by | Reviews | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Glad you had a better experience than I did, Chuck. I saw the film in the best seat of a top-of-the line 3D theater, and liked the LOOK of the film, but got irritated at the trite dialogue and predictable plot. And even though Pandora was all woo-woo indigloish, the Na’vi didn’t look “real” to me. They were just very detailed 3D cartoons. Their movements, footsteps, limb impacts all SOUNDED right, but didn’t LOOK as if their bodies had weight. This was disconcerting in scenes like Blue Jake’s first run outdoors. The toes curl into dirt as if the Na’vi have no bones at all, even though previous scenes supplied the info about “carbon-fiber bones, hard to kill” etc. Same unconvincing finger movements too, and the eye expressions were also too smooth-moving to look real. I know it’s supposed to be low gravity, but that should have been countered by the size and weight of the 9’tall Na’vi.
    With the addition of fake-tribal music and gaps in taste like having the natives all do “jazz hands” in the final scene, I was glad I had seen it but wouldn’t consider going again. (BTW, why does a Robot Suit need a robot KNIFE?)

    Comment by Invisible Mikey | January 17, 2010 | Reply


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