Yes, Part 1, because I have several things I want to say about this film and breaking it up seems like a good way to do it. This one will be about my reactions and opinion of the film, which I finally saw January 15.
I don’t go to the movies very often. I don’t especially like the environment, less so if it’s pretty full. I have concerns with people talking and making noise during the film, the prices are silly high, the sound is often deafening, which, if you think about it, is not what sound is supposed to be. Somewhere along the line the theater people got it into their heads that walls of sound enhance the experience. They don’t understand that being surrounded by sound is one thing, being blasted with it is another. Plus, I don’t like the smell of popcorn.
Still this is a movie that has to be seen on the biggest screen possible. We went to the IMAX theater to see Avatar in 3-D, which I imagine is the best way to see it. After several weeks, I was surprised to encounter a line, but we shuffled forward until allowed to pay our $30 for two tickets, daytime matinee senior rate. I don’t know how people can afford to see many films in the theater. Once inside we were handed our 3-D glasses. We had brought the ones we got when we saw Up, but these were different. Inside, it was almost full and we had to sit in the lower right area, which meant looking up and to the left for the whole film. This was for an 11:30 a.m. showing!
I was worried about the four guys sitting behind us who said, before the movie began, that they’d seen it a couple of times already. My experience with Star Wars films was that repeat viewers tend to shout out “Yeah!” and “Oh this part is cool” and such comments during the film. I was pleased that the audience was very quiet, and no cell phones went off.
It caught our interest immediately, and unlike some other viewers, I didn’t think it dragged in the second half. I admit my focus was as much – or more – on the created geology, botany and biology as it was on the ongoing plot, which was pretty predictable. So what? I knew I was going to a science fiction film, so there would science fiction-y stuff. The trailers had already given away enough to eliminate most surprises, but there were a few.
This movie looks GOOD. There’s no question that Cameron and all the people who worked on the special effects, cinematography and editing succeeded in their efforts to create a believable world. This is the best world building I’ve ever seen in a film. Still, I have a few quibbles.
We are told, near the beginning of the film, that “everything that flies, walks or squats in the mud wants to kill you”. There were some pretty scary, frightening beasts in the film, but there was a big hole, I thought. Where were the dangerous insects? The snakes? The poisonous plants, thorn-throwing bushes, the leeches? Also, this is a wet, wet world, yet it didn’t seem to rain very much.
Some people have criticized the floating mountains. I’ll address that in Part 2.
And yet, and yet… this is a wonderful film. It does just what I want a SF film to do: catch me up and make me believe, take me for a journey that’s fun and exciting, let me care about what happens, even if I can see it coming, and give me a satisfying ending, whether I believe it or not.
There are plenty of plot holes, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to criticize something someone else has done than to do it yourself, and I’m not writing this so I can find fault, I’m sharing my reaction, and the main one I have is that there is a lot to like about this, it’s a lot of fun and worth seeing, and especially worth seeing on the big screen and I’ll be going to see it again.
Next: Avatar – part 2: sources (probably Thursday)