I went to the my new favorite mall today, Palisades Center Mall in NY to check out James Cameron’s Avatar 3D on a real iMax Screen, not the fake Max that’s near my house in MD. I walked into the theater ambivalent about what I was about to experience and left the packed theater feeling about the same.
Any movie that takes 15 long minutes to set up its premise via voiceover is in trouble. Especially when the narrator sounds like he’s reading the phone book. There’s no sense of urgency or emotion, just hey, “we’re on this planet with blue people who want to kill us. To survive we created these Avatars made of Human/Na’vi DNA that can walk and survive outside this compound. Oh yeah my brother died, so I have to decide if I’m going to replace him and take over his Avatar, because there’s a lot of money in it and I can’t walk anyway. So what the hell, you know?”
Avatar is being hyped as being this new benchmark in 3D technology. This may have been the case 3 or 4 years ago when no one was releasing 3D films, but in this year of 3D it just isn’t. I thought the 3D work done in Final Destination 3D was better than what was on display here. Yes, there are some nice moments like when we first see the floating mountains of Pandora, but after awhile you realize you are just watching blue people run around in a forest. Wow, my eyeballs are really popping (sarcasm).
Since I really didn’t care about any of the characters or the story the 3D work felt a bit cold and kind of like old school 3D to me, to the point where things looked slightly fuzzy at times and my eyes got a bit tired a few times during the movie. This hasn’t happened to me at any of this year’s other 3D films. So as technologically advanced as this movie supposedly is, it felt like a film that could have been made 5 or 10 years ago, there was nothing on screen that blew my socks off. I would have rather seen this movie without the 3D.
There’s no talk about the Avatars themselves. These things are grown from DNA, walk, breath, have motor functions, etc. but are completely empty shells? There are no brains in them until a human links up with them? It seemed too contrived to me. I never bought into the basic premise and certainly not the love story between Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). We know he’s there to betray the tribe and they know that he’s’ not a “real” person so while the film takes great lengths to establish this love, we all know it can never work. Poor Zoe she gives a heck of a performance here, she’s really good but Worthington, who ruined Terminator: Salvation, is just stiff. He has zero charisma on screen in his human or CGI form. The success of this movie is all on his shoulders and he fails. It seemed like most of the movie was set up just to delay the inevitable final battle which was a better than the Ewoks Vs. Empire, but had about the same impact.
A minute after I purchased my ticket two-bus loads of Teenagers came into the theater. I was expecting a pretty lively audience but you could have heard a pin drop. This movie takes itself way too seriously; there are no cute or funny moments, no pump fisting moments, nothing. This is one blah movie, which makes for a hard review to write. I didn’t love this movie or hate it. It”s one big pile of “meh,” and feels like there’s this 3-hour void in my life.
Final Grade C
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 12.18.09