March 4, 2010

Full Movie Review: Avatar IMAX 3D

Starring: Lots of blue people, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi.

Director: James Cameron

Score on the umHY! (ugh, meh, Hmm..., Yeah!) Scale: Visuals: "Yeah!", Story: "Hmm..." out of 4

Review: In honor of the biggest movie of all time ending its run on the world's largest screens, I'm going to ditch my usual 21 word format and attempt a proper review. Here in Raleigh, Avatar holds it's final screenings today at the IMAX theater at Marbles Kids Museum. Starting tomorrow, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland takes over.

Full disclosure: Coming into this, my expectations of this film were muted at best. I'm not opposed to science fiction flicks or blockbusters, and I'd of course seen the previews of this movie. But I had a hard time believing that I could suspend reality enough to be pulled into a world where giant CGI blue people mingled with real actors in a completely digital environment (basically, I thought the blue people looked stupid). Plus, I felt like I had seen this story before; Advanced race callously forces primitive natives off their land in order to satisfy their own greed. Dances With Wolves? Pocahontas? Independence Day?

And, to some extent, my fears were justified. The overarching storyline of Avatar is pretty stale, and the unsubtle environmentalist undertones wore thin quickly. What saves the plot, however, is the way that the story unfolds. We are introduced to the world of Pandora right along with Sam Worthington's character, Jake Sully. But, instead of making us tromp through an arduous lead-up to the payoff, Cameron fills in the back-story with voice-overs recorded by Sully as journal entries. That way we, as the audience, are dropped right into the visual marvel that the director has created.

Let's be honest, the draw of Avatar is really the visuals. And, if the movie takes home best picture at this weekend's Oscars, it's Cameron's imagining of Pandora and it's inhabitants that gets it there. Lots of summer blockbusters are best suited for the big screen. Usually, that's because the story is so weak that the excitement of the explosions and action scenes is the only redeeming quality, and those are always more dramatic in a theater. Well, the scope of Avatar is bigger than the biggest blockbuster. Therefore, I really think that the only screen that does this movie justice is the IMAX screen. This film simply won't transfer well to DVD for anyone but the die-hard geeks and fanboys.

The point of Avatar is to be transported to another world. The story is just a means to get you there. What holds you there, beyond the size and scope of the big screen, is the final piece of the puzzle; the film's use of 3D. I've seen a few films using the "new" generation 3D lately and they all have the same problem for me; the 3D effects are more of a gimmick than a tool. Most of the time, I even find it's use distracting. Well, with Avatar, James Cameron has changed that. 3D effects consume this film. There's so much going on, that you stop noticing the effects themselves and simply enter the movie in a way you've never done before. It's truly a new experience.

This movie will undoubtedly make millions when it finally leaves theaters and moves on to DVD, but for anyone left who didn't see it in the theater,
in 3D, on the IMAX screen, the question will probably arise, "What's the big deal?". So, for those of you still waiting, if you have any desire to see this movie, you've got 1 day left. You're welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure that I can squeeze that in tonight, and really really not sure that I could sit through a three hour movie, but sign me up for Alice in Wonderland!