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Avatar Review

I went to Avatar on opening day. I’m still an opening day geek. Of course, the North Country is a little low on entertainment so there was not much competition for my time. I purposely avoided reading reviews and didn’t see many commercials. The reasons I went to see this movie are:
1. the name Avatar -I’m active in virtual reality and I have more than one avatar myself, not counting my digital presence overall
2. Sigourney Weaver (yeah, kick alien behind Sigourney! Love strong woman characters)
3. perhaps James Cameron (whom I don’t resent as much as the world seems to over that whole “I’m king of the world” thing).

So I bundled up against the single digit weather and headed out.

I thought the theater would be mostly empty. The last sci fi movie I saw (Star Trek) was just me and about a hald dozen other sci fi diehards. This time the theater was about 1/3 full– very good for my local area. Standing in line to buy tickets/popcorn/drink, people were buying a lot of food saying “Hey, it’s a Cameron film, we’ll be in there awhile.” Since I didn’t know what to expect, I got popcorn. When I have popcorn at a movie, it’s a signal that I don’t expect to pay full attention. Every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is a popcorn movie in my book– well maybe except True Lies.

The sound in the theater was wincingly bad. This was a ‘regular’ showing, not 3-D. But the popcorn was soon put aside. It took me a few minutes to gather what the prologue was telling, but soon I was catching on: alien planet, hired soldiers, greedy company, passionate scientist, mysterious race.

The science of how a human connects with an avatar (in this case a grown soulless/mindless body) is not explained. It’s given the ‘hand wave’ approach. The viewer is seeing the story from the twin soldier’s perspective who knows about nothing about this effort, so we know little detail too. It’s OK though. Plenty of Star Trek never actually does explain the power conduits in the Enterprise, but I can accept that it speeds through space.

So the soldier – delighted with his avatar body – immediately gets lost and then befriended by the alien race. Intrigue, spying, friendship, and bonding all result. There is some nice ‘respect for the planet’ stuff in there. We were tantalizing close to a “the planet is a mind” idea with the trees, but the writers or editors held back. Humph. Despite a few dips in the story where I was feeling lost as to what this meant, the ending was actually pretty good. I was afraid that the concept of the ‘avatar’ as person or real would essentially ‘lose’ in this story, but it was written in as a win. The near final line of “I see you” is quite nice…a warm hearted coming of full circle for the characters.

Most compelling moment: When Sigourney Weaver screams “You murderer” at the head of the company, my heart lept in my chest.

Loved Sigourney Weaver’ character when, near death, she gets to arrive at a sacred place. She sees it and says “I need to take some samples”. Nice ode to the scientist. Just wish her character didn’t have to smoke. Really, she could have been passionate and smart and tough and just an all around expert without smoking.

A plus for this movie: obvioulsy the creative spirit of the film makers got to have a field day with the alien planet idea. The plants and animals are fairly TOP NOTCH creative. Kudos to that. If you like Fantasia, think of that..but in 2009 style.

All in all, I give the movie a “B“. I bet in 3-D and better sound, it is a feast. I’d say it is worth your $10 to see it in theater, but home theaters wow me now so if you want for home, you might want to only On Demand it, not buy it.

Interestingly, movie WAS set up for a sequel (big, bad company left due to being out numbered…will they be forever gone? Don’t think so.) The question is…will Cameron make enough from this one to pay for the next. Given that it will take years to make, he doesn’t have long to decide. Intially, I heard the opening weekend was more than the Titanic opening week…but then again, Titanic had the buzz of “you know what happened”.

Future conversation: would LOVE to know what the military contributed or thinks about this movie. Conceivably, the military probably would be the first to go this route (aka spies, Cylons, whathaveyou). The concept of a mercenary military engaged in this research seems…interesting.

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