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December 31, 2009 / Andrea Capp

Avatar 3D | My Quick and Simple Observations

  • Beautiful film with fantastic creativity and amazing visual effects
  • 3D slightly distracting with humans in the mix but easy enough to get used to
  • Dialogue – 10 years of work for that? Could have been better, leeway given due to PG-13 rating & beauty of movie
  • Sequence of events/story, predictable
  • Noticeably strange effort given to covering up breasts
  • Anyone else notice the Pentagon base on Pandora???
  • Loved the realistic characterization of the greedy & self-righteous but District 9 did it better
  • PAPYRUS? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. I almost didn’t see it just because of that.

Overall it was a beautiful beautiful movie and I recommend seeing it. 3D was great too!

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4 Comments

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  1. bDave / Jan 2 2010 4:28 pm

    Truthfully, everyone I have discussed this movie with has had the urge to point something negative out. The majority of the commentary was directed towards the contrived dialogue but that the visual effects were stunning. Another was that the movie was too long and a simple exhibition of technological advances or that the plot didn’t merit the 3 hour commitment.

    I thought this movie did everything it was supposed to do. It followed all the bullet points that makes a block buster hit. A plot line and dialogue that a 5 year old can comprehend, Graphics that made a twenty seven year old duck (the tear gas canister, that flew right at the screen), and an immense marketing budget. Were you looking for a philosophical bombshell? A more realistic or insightful romantic plot? (http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/12/navi-sex-scene/) An unpredictable 90 roller coaster ride? Too bad. Explosions, almost-boobs, buckets of foreshadowing? Yes, please.

    I am not going to compare it to my hands-down favorite movie of all time (2001: A Space Odyssey). Similarly, 2001 tops out at 3 hours, is visually stunning, contains about 4% of mainly uninteresting human dialogue, but has reconnected me with my thoughts on Humanism, our technological advancements, spirituality, art – all the heavy stuff. I don’t comment much on blogs, but since you created this playground for commentary and that we saw the movie at the same time, then I am obliged to take 10 minutes out of my day and respond!

  2. Andrea Arbuckle / Jan 2 2010 4:41 pm

    Well said bDave.

    I wouldn’t have minded a philosophical bombshell or even something I’d like to see again, ahem, District 9. But you’re right, it is was it is…entertainment shooting for a blockbuster hit. It seems they’ve successfully achieved that.

  3. Andrea Arbuckle / Jan 3 2010 2:17 pm

    I’m not the only one who hated the Papyrus…

    From twitter: “@colinmeloy Really, Avatar? Papyrus font, in puke yellow with a drop shadow? For all the subtitles? Kind of killed the movie for me.”

    Google search full of Avatar Papyrus rants : http://bit.ly/4XSNVl

    (HT : Nate Capp)

  4. ncapp24 / Jan 3 2010 3:08 pm

    I’m not in the habit of rebutting the thoughts of people I don’t really know on the internet, but because I’m a big film nerd, some of bDave’s comments stirred up my mind. With some encouragement from the site’s host, I decided to share my thoughts, which are all in good humor and intended as non-confrontational discussion starters. I’m sorry if this gets lengthy.

    To start, I haven’t seen Avatar and have little desire to do so, so I’ll try to hold off on any uniformed opinion’s about the film. I do enjoy several of James Cameron’s films: Aliens is amazing, T2 and True Lies are a lot of fun, The Abyss is very interesting (if slightly flawed), so I’m not predisposed to hate on the man. I’ve only seen snippets of Titanic, but they told me all I needed to know.

    Anyway, as far as the pointing out something negative like bad dialogue, a cliched story, or the length (which, even though most movies don’t need to be as long as they are, is on the lower end of the Critical Merit Scale [trademark pending]). I think Andrea’s point of having 10 years to refine the dialogue and iron out the more cliched elements is completely valid. Screenwriting is the cheapest part of a project and since Cameron does it himself, is free. Certainly, there was a lot of time for rewrites and punch-ups. In my mind, the screenplay is the most important aspect of a film. If that is lacking, a film can only rise so high in terms of quality. Plus, good dialogue can elevate a good movie to a great movie.

    To say a film did “everything it was supposed to do” sounds to me like the film is just good enough, which is fine. Not everything has to be great. But it should be treated as just a good movie. They way bDave describes the film doesn’t inspire me to run out to the theater to see it. In fact, it sounds like support for the idea that the Avatar is only an “exhibition of technological advances” and “that the plot didn’t merit the 3 hour commitment.”

    For all of the questions bDave poses, my question is, what is the harm of having those? Again, ten years is a long time to convincingly weave in philosophical bombshells, a realistic/insightful romantic plot, etc. It’s the layers of a story that make it great. It seems to me that there is some sort of social/ecological message to the story, so I won’t claim that it doesn’t try, but no film has ever been hurt because it had an ambitious story.

    I know bDave didn’t expect someone to come along a pick apart his comment, so there is probably a great deal of simplification and natural online misinterpretation on my part, so that must be considered. It actually sounds like he is saying it is just a good movie with great visuals and my reaction is more suited for those calling it anything more than good.

    However, my stronger reaction was to the mentioning of 2001 (even though bDave acknowledges that he doesn’t intend to draw comparisons). First, to be a nitpicky little weevil, 2001 is only 148 minutes compared to Avatar’s 162. Pretty negligible difference at those lengths, so I guess it’s more to say both films fall short of 3 hours by a good margin.

    Anyway, it’s true that 2001 features little interesting human dialogue (and most of the interesting dialogue is delivered by a machine, HAL), but that hardly matters. It’s tough to create dynamic characterizations when Keir Dullea is your star. But, as bDave knows, the film is about more than plot. 2001 isn’t really telling a story in the traditional sense like Avatar is. The construction of 2001 is unlike anything up to the point it was made and even unlike anything now. bDave is right to say the film is about “Humanism, our technological advancements, spirituality, art – all the heavy stuff,” and that’s what makes it interesting and to most, great. It’s notable that 2001 was the #2 film of 1968 in terms of box office receipts. If you give people something intelligent, it won’t scare them off. Cameron had the opportunity to really show the world something. It’s his first big film since Titanic. His market was already there. On top of the visuals, he could have done amazingly interesting things story-wise and not lost anyone. Instead, he decided to pull up short and appeal to as many as possible.

    It may not be fair of me to ask that since 2001 had probably the most intelligent man to ever work in film and one of the greatest science fiction writers ever working on the film.

    As a final note to this already too long screed, I’m not a huge fan of computer generated landscapes. I like the feeling of tangible images and no matter how good CG gets, it never looks as good as the real thing (exception to this opinion is fully CGI films). If you look at things like this (low quality) trailer for Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuqBKiKycbA) or this (somewhat graphic) scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nVRDksE29c), they just feel more real and organic that say much of the stuff in Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus trailer, which I can’t wait to see, incidentally (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jU3AimFaz0).

    That is all. Sorry if I wasted your time.

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