Take me Back to Pandora Please


I wasn’t planning on going to see Avatar while it was out in theaters. I was going to wait until it came out on dvd. However, Flipmax wanted to go see it and I thought, what the heck. So tonight after dinner, I convinced everyone to go watch the 10:35pm showing.

There must be bad marketing with this film because they failed to convey that it was available in digital 3D in every major theater. I’m so used to those special Imax 3D films where you had to find a special theater to go see shit in 3D. When I pulled up fandango.com, I noticed in all of our major theaters there was an option to watch it in “realD 3D”.

I was like sweet, I haven’t seen a movie in 3D since I went to Disney world many eons ago. I was also warned that 3D films nowadays are really cheesy and gimmicky when it comes to their 3D production, ie..a ball being thrown at you. I also never really buy the hype for movies and honestly the trailer only mildly interested me.

It may be stupid but because I was unaware of the 3D glasses procedures for theaters, I came prepared. I’m used to them handing them out out of these cardboard boxes and when you’re done using them, you throw them back in the box. The last experience I had really grossed me out. SOOO, I brought along disinfectant and tissue just incase.

LOL. When we walked up to the ticket lady, she told us to pick up our glasses at the table next to us. They come packaged in a sealed plastic bag. I guess the theory is that you return them after the movie, they get “sanitized” and then prepackaged. They’re a bit awkward to wear, sort of like slightly too large sunglasses. Maybe I’m just not used to wearing them.

The movie itself is indisputably a milestone in movie history. For me, it was like Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. You just knew, after those films were produced, the bar was raised. You wait for these types of movies for years!

I can’t say the story was all that amazing. If you’ve seen Dances with Wolves, Battle for Terra, and to many degrees, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, you get this plot immediately. Avatar’s story is pretty much: Earth is in peril, humans needs something from a moon named Pandora, the humans conflict with the indigenous humanoid life forms, and the plot ensues. It’s straight forward, a classic story, and relatable. All the bases are covered by "back story explanations" so the movie can quickly get to meat. (example: Language barrier? Easy. There used to be a school set up to teach the aliens English and vise versa. Move along!) It might be a bit basic but it’s enough to keep you entertained for nearly 3 hours.

As for the computer graphics, not all together new. You’ve seen this technology before as well with Golem in Lord of the Rings. It is CGI transference where you’re not just animating but rather translating real actors and acting into CG.

NO, what made this movie revolutionary and amazing was that it is the first film to marry true sc-fi fantasy and reality for the audience. The transition between what is fantastical (ie, CG and creatures) and what is based on the reality we know (the actors and theme) is seamless! You really can not tell in this movie that it was as computer simulated as it was. You just believe that everything is real.

This is the first film where NO details threw me off or out of the context of the movie because of awkward computer graphics or bad renderings. And even more amazing, is the fact that most of this movie boasts an organic world. In the perspective of computer animation, organic simulation is the hardest. Putting solid architecture and elaborate sci-fi city backgrounds behind green screens of actors talking is childsplay compared to this (*cough*lucas*cough*).

The characters flow with and through the environment and because I was watching the 3D version, the perception of depth was even greater. I never felt too overwhelmed by the 3D except for the opening sequences when there were long hallways where the field of view and focused aperture fucks with your mind. I’m sure James Cameron always intended this film to be viewed in 3D but nothing about the movie suggests that it was designed to be 3D. It simply is and that’s what makes the 3D aspect of it so successful.

Holy F-ing details! The reason you hear so many people say “I want to watch this movie again,” is probably the same reason I’m saying the same thing. This move is like the equivalent of the richest, darkest chocolate cake you have ever tasted. There is no way you can take it all in with just one bite. I have to see this movie several times just to absorb the amount of visual elements he packed into it. There is no way you can come out of this movie and not believe Pandora isn’t real! I love directors who do this. That’s what I loved about Lord of the Rings so much, the world was so elaborate and so much care was put into every frame regardless of where the focus of the scene was.

The only reason I probably won’t watch this movie in the theater again is because movies are too damn expensive and like I said before, the story itself is very simple. It’s just translated so well visually and of course it’s the first of its kind. It’s the new milestone marker for animated story telling for sure. I love it when technology rises to meet visionary ideas. Avatar is definitely an example of this. The fact that Cameron pushed the release date of the movie from May to December because not all theaters had 3D projectors speaks volumes to this. Not to mention he pushed the start of production from 1998 to 2006 in order to wait for CG technology to advance.

I spent like an hour and a half talking to Flipmax after the movie about it and few movies ever really awe me any more. And for a movie whose actual story line wasn’t that impressive, I’m still left with a profound impression of the film. It is soooo immersive that I think a lot of people will have a hard time parting with the world movie.

2 comments:

Douglas said...

Yeah, that about says it. To me it seemed like a cross between Halo and Ferngully. Yeah that plot has been done a million times. The Last Samurai, Braveheart, Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully etc. Hollywood has really been running out of ideas this decade. I guess that's okay though, there are thousands of films and only so many things you can write about. Other than that it was a kick ass movie.

Alachia said...

@douglas LOL. omg. Ferngully! You're right. Those gigantic tonka-like bulldozer machines! I loved Ferngully. I heard they made a Ferngully II but I never watched it.

I was also told the human's air machines were ripped out of Unreal Tournament. http://tinyurl.com/5puzhr

borrowing elements wouldn't even matter had not Cameron went on and on about his original concept for the story and film.

He should just cut to the chase and say, "Look, I made one of the first realistic sci-fi fantasy films ever." lol.