Sunday, 14 March 2010

Have you ever had it blue?

Well, you probably ARE blue, if you come from the planet Pandora.

Last night I went to see Avatar. Yes, it's only taken me about two months to get round to seeing it (as someone has already said to me) but then I find it hard getting the time to do these kind of things sometimes ...

I didn't see the 3D version but it was still pretty impressive in its "flatscreen" version I think ...

The good stuff:

1. Totally lush and mesmerising visuals, particularly the amazing phosphorescent flora and fauna on the planet. I loved all of the alien creatures too - the rhino-like things, the eagle-like birds - some nice, some scarey. The whole look and culture of the planet was very well done - the mark of a good sci-fi movie (it's been several decades since the polysterene rocks of Star Trek).
2. The alien race, the Na'vi, looked amazing too, even if they were obviously digital creations, though having said that, did you know that the facial expressions of the original actors were moulded onto the animations? That was probably why they actually looked very realistic ... and human. I loved their big emotional eyes and there were some wonderful nuances in their facial moements/expressions. The culture of the Na'vi was also very well presented, with their own language (created from a vocabulary of about 1,000 words apparently) and spiritual way of life.
3. The lead guy, Jake Skully (I liked the way the aliens pronounced his name) was convincing and sympathetic, even though I don't really know who Sam Worthington is. I liked the spiritual journey he underwent throughout the movie - by the end he was (literally) a different being.
4. Great to see old sci-fi stalwart Sigourney Weaver back on the scene (well, James Cameron directed her in Aliens) ... and considering it's been 31 years since the original Alien, she still looks pretty good.
5. The allegorical stuff worked well on the whole and wasn't dealt with in too heavy-handed a fashion, considering this was still a Hollywood movie (one race wanting to wipe out another race in the name of gaining something valuable; understanding and learning from other cultures; the destruction of the environment, etc etc). The scene when the Earth security torpedo and destroy Hometree (the home of one of the Na'vi clan) was gripping and horrible to watch - the poor, helpless Na'vi having their dwelling place destroyed and trying to fight back against technology and firepower with mere bows and arrows, and the brutality of the attack, made for very disturbing viewing. It made me think about all other instances of war, when we never consider that the "enemy" we are obliged to destroy are actually living beings. What gives us the right to take away others' lives? Gosh, I'm getting all heavy now.

The not so good stuff:
1. It was very long, clocking in at nearly 3 hours. I didn't realise this until I'd bought the ticket. James Cameron seems to go in for long epics (e.g. Titanic). Fortunately this seemed like quite a well-paced 3 hours, so it could have worse, even if my bum was rather numb by the end.
2. There was some predictable Hollywood stuff - the main villain, Colonel Quaritch, was a real stereotypical meanie, though I did like the face-off between him and Scully at the end, with Quaritch in his giant "robot" body suit (very similar to the one Ripley wore in "Aliens" though and probably loads of other sci-fi stuff that's been on in the interim).
3. During some of the fight/action sequences, the camera moved around too quickly for me, so much so that you couldn't always see what was going on - too blurry and fast to follow!

On balance then, this was imaginative, thought-provoking, visually stunning, well-acted and moving. Maybe not a total masterpiece but very good sci-fi. 4 out of 5.


  1. Funnily enough Karen and I saw it about a month ago had similar reactions to you. We liked it but... a true cinema classic? No. The world is lush as you say, and it's easy to fall in love with it. But the moral of the film is painted in strokes that are far too broad and, dare I say it, infantile. There's not subtlety. In fact all the subtlety is in the effects rather than the story. But... the story isn't a bad one. Just a bit paint by numbers. And I have to say I thought Sigourney Weaver's avatar was hot.

  2. I'm glad you have only just seen it as I haven't got round to it and am keen to go en famille but my teenagers branded me a "loser" and a "saddo" for even suggesting it so long after the event!! Based on what you say though, I may give it a go .....

  3. Haven't seen it but the young Whovian in our household saw it, in 3D and LOVED it. My much older step-son saw it last week and also loved it.
    Maybe it's time i did too...

  4. Steve - I agree with much of what you say, in fact my rating of 4 out of 5 was probably a bit too generous - 3.5 out of 5 then? Mmm I seem to be making a habit of changing my mind when it comes to reveiws!!

    Selina - Thanks for your comments and welcome. How very dare your children brand you like that!! Look adults can go to the cinema, tooooo right?!! Glad I influenced you a bit though!

    Amanda - I'm not surprised the Whovian loved it, well it's the sci-fi link, ain't it? And once again, there's nowt wrong with Mums going to see it, either!!