Yesterday, in an unexpected twist, the in-laws and Em decided they wanted to go see Avatar. Em had been making fun of it for months and her mom kept saying she didn’t want to see a sci-fi movie. I mentioned I’d be down for Avatar or Sherlock Holmes and eventually we ended up at the theater wearing Buddy Holly glasses and watching crazy aliens run around on-screen. I had been cautiously optimistic about the movie. Not because I’m a great big James Cameron fan and not because I’m that big of a sci-fi fan myself, but because I wanted to see the next step in 3D and CGI and I hoped it would be good. We walked out of the theater with all three of them singing the movie’s praises and I just felt kind of eh. I liked it and the special effects were amazing, but the movie didn’t really suck me in. I only ever got really absorbed and lost myself in the movie towards the end in the gigantic final battle scene, which not only looked sick, but had me really wondering how they were going to get themselves out of this one.
Again, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or find it interesting. I actually found the idea of a planet where every living thing was connected basically by synapses to be fascinating and started catching on pretty early as our main character, Jake, was driving around his blue-skinned, genetically altered Avatar (a mix between human and the indigenous alien DNA) and their footprints were glowing. I also really liked how the CGI made the blue alien humanoids look real. There was only one brief moment where I felt like I was watching a Pixar movie instead of a live action one, but after that it felt “real” the whole way. The animals of the jungle and the plant life were all a lot of fun to look at too.
I guess what bugged me was the story. It felt a little been-there, done-that. Maybe it’s because I’ve read thousands of comics and seen hundreds of movies and cartoons, so the idea of humans on an alien planet trying to take what they want from the “savage” aboriginals isn’t all that new. I was also a little disappointed in the portrayal of the army-like dudes. I know they distinguished early on that these were not government military personnel, but hired guns working for a corporation, but they didn’t really nail it home enough in my opinion. Not that I want things completely laid out for me, but it seemed like a fairly big story point that I had to keep reminding myself of and I kept thinking that these Army guys were dicks. And they were, which is another problem. Everyone wearing camouflage with the exception of Michelle Rodriguez (who I generally hate, but liked enough in this) is a jerk. And not just a jerk, but a lame, one-liner spouting jerk. Had those dudes not been in the movie or at least better written, maybe I would have been more absorbed.
Overall, I guess it was the little things that kept popping me out of the story. I tried avoiding all the hype and press and did an okay enough job. Okay enough that I had no idea Uhuru played the main female alien. In fact, I couldn’t nail down exactly who she reminded me of, but it popped into my head at the very end. She looks just like Uma Thurman. It’s crazy. Anyway, I’m in like with the movie, not love and hope to give it another viewing. We did see it in 3D, which I would recommend, because it’s not really gimmicky (though it probably could have been in a few places early on), it just puts you into things a bit more, kind of like the visual equivalent of surround sound. In the end, I would recommend giving it a shot and in 3D whenever possible. Oh, plus, check out this cool YouTube video of the toys which use a new technology called augmented reality to add a bit of awesomeness in each package!