It’s not that it’s a bad film. It’s just that they spent so much money on special effects and CGI (which are spectacular) that they apparently didn’t have any left over for a decent writer…or director…or actors… The story is so full of cliches I thought the ghost of James Fenimore Cooper was going to turn up and sue us just for watching it. It’s not a stretch to say this is simply Disney’s Pocahontas in Space (and a little less singing).
That said, it really is an amazing piece of work. Until now, the best 3D movie I’d seen (one where the 3D was used to enhance the story rather than as a bunch of cheap “comin’ atcha!” tricks) was Coraline. But Avatar took it to a whole new level. It actually envelops you inside the world and makes the surround sound even more effective. With very few exceptions, it’s hard to see the blue-skinned alien Na’vi as completely CG and not actors whose blue body paint might rub off. They were the best CG creatures since Gollum (not surprising, since WETA was involved in their creation).
I don’t think this is going to be a movie that people will return to again and again. The characters were not compelling enough to care about…even the Na’vi, who are supposed to be the sympathetic natives don’t bring many tears as they are ruthlessly slaughtered by the money-grubbing (or in this case “unobtanium”-grubbing) humans. There are zero (and I mean zero) surprises.
The three best things about the movie (for me) were:
- excitement at the prospect that someone would take this technology and use it for a really awesome science fiction story someday
- the realization that the South Park episode Dances with Smurfs was even more awesome than I thought it was
- increasing the humor quotient of the Bones episode The Gamer in the Grease, since I now know that the guy that plays Fischer is in Avatar (if you watch Bones, you get it, otherwise never mind)
So, as far as Avatar goes, I guess I’m glad I saw it, but it’s not going on my Blockbuster list.