Avatar 3D

Saw it yesterday (regular theater 3D version, not IMAX) and thought it was excellent. Think Dances with Wolves with aliens instead of Indians.

The animation was excellent (astounding, really) except for a couple of scenes where characters are climbing something. I don’t know what it is about CGI effects and climbing. They almost always look totally fake. Usually it seems like the climbing characters suddenly weigh one-tenth of what they normally do. Despite that, it’s worth checking out for the animation alone, IMHO.

The military tech, and there’s a lot of it, is pretty interesting. It’s all got a very ‘real’ feel to it. The tactics the troops use is straight out of Braveheart, but it makes for a good show.

The 3D was pretty good, even for Murdoc and his dodgy left eye which limits his perception of such things. Someday, and it won’t be long, I think people are going to look at movies as they exist today and wonder why we bothered watching such flat-looking stuff.

Story/plot-wise, it’s 100% predictable. Unless you’ve seen Dances with Wolves, in which case it’s 125% predictable. Not bad, though, and there are some really good moments. Just don’t go in expecting a deep, original storyline. This is an animated sci-fi movie about aliens and space soldiers on a different planet. Go in expecting a solid 2:40 of entertainment, and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Unfortunately, Cameron apparently couldn’t resist taking a number of potshots at the invasion of Iraq. While I choose to ignore some of the elements of the basic premise as overt political statements and accept them as storytelling, a few lines of dialogue are there to make sure everyone realizes how wrong “preemptive” and “shock and awe” and a few other things are.

Fortunately, like most times when someone works hard to get those things in, it sounds like someone worked hard to get those things in. It ends up coming off like dialogue written and directed by George Lucas. ([hint] That ain’t exactly a compliment [/hint])

Anyway, go check it out. Ignore the hamfisted attempts at profound political commentary and enjoy it. We don’t go see many movies in the theater, maybe three or four per year, but I’ll be going to check this out at least one more time.


  1. It was the stupidity that bothered me the most.

    Not to be too big of a spoiler, but I think the most outstanding bit of stupidity involves the following items:

    1) What is the only thing we really know about Unobtanium?

    2) Why do the mountains float?

  2. I guess it depends on what you were expecting.

    Though they don’t really explain unobtanium, I guess I don’t have a problem believing that there could be a vitally important/valuable mineral on another planet that would drive some people to extreme measure to obtain it. I’d rather not have an explanation than have some cheesy quasi-science explanation, particularly if that explanation would then be used to damn today’s oil companies and oil consumers.

    As for the mountains, my son told me that Popular Science magazine had an article about the “science” in Avatar and that there was some metal ore with anti-grav properties or something like that. (He didn’t quite remember what the “explanation” was and I don’t quite remember what he told me, so if that’s way way off blame Murdoc and not Murdoc Jr.)

    That said, it’s definitely a movie to LOOK AT and not one to really THINK ABOUT.

  3. Yeah, I saw “Blue Pocahontas Dances With Wolves in Fern Gully” too. Fun movie to watch, the 3-d effects were spectacular. Neytiri was very believable, her face was very emotive. I recognized Cameron’s “subtle” jabs. Why do the military guys always seem like bullies and morons in his movies? The Colonel was off the charts psycho. I think Cameron was also sticking a finger in the eye of Blackwater or Xe, whoever they are now. I like where the Colonel blew the outer door to the control room and put everyone at risk. And why is it, when they have so much high tech gear, the AMP suit restraints are amde out of an ALICE pack frame and straps. Oh, and I like where the avatar is grown in a tank and already has a braided ponytail. One last thing, why weren’t their nerve tendrils in the end of their tails (where it would make more sense) and not at the end of their braids. Rant out. Fun flick, worth a look see.

  4. Dances With Smurfs. Sounds about like what I expected. Plan to see it whenever I get a day off. And the politics are disappointing, but sadly expected with modern day Hollywood.

  5. recognized Cameron’s “subtle” jabs.

    Wow. I missed those. Probably because I was a bit groggy from the non-subtle jabs. (ha ha) I don’t want to harp on it too much, because it doesn’t ruin the movie at all and I don’t want to give the impression that it does.

    think Cameron was also sticking a finger in the eye of Blackwater or Xe
    You’re right. I noticed that at the time but had forgotten. He pretty much rolled out all the whipping boys.

    why weren’t their nerve tendrils in the end of their tails (where it would make more sense) and not at the end of their braids.
    That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought of that. Like the rest, it’s probably just a function of looking cool rather than seeming realistic. I had also missed the braided hair in the tank thing.

    Dances With Smurfs
    LOL. Except the smurfs are ten feet tall.

  6. I will not see this movie because of the anti-American, anti-military and especially the “white guilt” attitude.

    Eff Cameron, and all the Hollyweird treason-mongers like him. They make hundreds of millions of dollars through capitalism, in the one country with the ability and playing field to do it, then turn around and trash everything that makes their work possible.

    Just sayin’… 🙂

  7. AW1 Tim,
    I prolly won’t see it either, for the same reasons. But to be fair it’s hard to keep that attitude without seeing it first then judging.

    Kudos to MO and others who can see past the politics and just enjoy the flick as spectacle. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can’t.

  8. Libertarians are enjoying this movie, since they are non-intervionists. From what I read, only hardcore neocons will have problem with it.

  9. Having seen the previews and read an outline of the story, I’m very disappointed in Avatar.

    In spite of the massive amount of money, work, and acting talent poured into this movie, it has a woefully-overused plot, a corny delivery, and lots of ridiculous Sci-Fi cliches that should have been abandoned for good 20 years ago.

    For a few examples of said cliches;
    – Human-like aliens with tails and/or blue skin.
    – A Eugaian world orbiting around a Gas Giant
    – A world with an all-jungle biosphere.
    – Bipedal vehicles.
    – Unobtainium.
    – Bad, high-tech colonists attacking good, stone-age natives.

    It’s only because of spoiled Billionaire rich kid, James Cameron that Avatar ever even got off the ground.

    Seriously, youre better off spending the extra money to buy a the 2000 remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The acting, special effects, and so on are just as good, and it hasvirtually has the same plot; only, without the corniness,

    That, and Dune doesn’t try to disguise that it’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid like Avatar does.

  10. I might see it, well, mainly cos I’m bored.

    Nothing in the past 2 seasons of Anime has sparked my fancy, and Modern Warfare 2 is kinda -eh- with people sporting akimbo shotguns.

    So yeah, will ignore politcs to look at the pretty monkey-smurfs.

  11. The only Cameron movie I ever liked much was Terminator, and that just barely.

    IMO, every movie he has made has been predictable and bordering on silly. And I thought he absolutely ruined the Rambo and Alien sequels.

    But I’ll give him props for making movies that are wonderful to look at. And his commercial success can’t be argued with.

    Maybe there is something to be said for beautiful things that are predictable and bordering on silly….

  12. Blacktail,

    How can you be “very disappointed” if you haven’t even watched the movie? You can have a bad feeling about it, but saying it sucks before you watch is quite silly.

  13. Seriously, youre better off spending the extra money to buy a the 2000 remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
    Very strongly disagree.

    And I thought he absolutely ruined the Rambo and Alien sequels.
    I don’t know how much of his screenplay actually made it into the final cut of First Blood II, but I think that movie was fine for what it was. As for Aliens, I thought it was great for its time and stands up very well. Alien had been one of my favorites and I knew nothing about the sequel going in. I was prepared to be disappointed, and had argued that Alien should never have had a sequel. My argument was totally right, except I was blown away anyway. Still one of my favorites.

    I’m not going to turn into a big defender of Avatar just because some people are going a little overboard criticizing it, partly because I think that some criticism of some elements is warranted.

    I liked it and will pay to go see it a second time. I think that its strengths overcome its weaknesses, unlike the Star Wars prequels, for example. Those movies had a lot of good in them, but the bad (IMHO) really dragged them down. Avatar has a lot more good than bad.

    Someone who is going to scoff just because the aliens are blue or because the stories been done before or because a Hollywood director gets in some cheap political shots won’t enjoy it. Don’t go.

    As I’ve noted, the film is predictable, the story is slanted, the military is misrepresented, and the political commentary is lame. Those weaknesses were beaten out by the good points. That’s all.

    I was leery going in but am very glad I did. It usually takes me a few viewings and a year or so before I really know how I really feel about a movie, but my initial impression was thumbs up.

    FWIW, I wish Cameron had made the Star Wars prequels. I’ve thought so for a long time. I thought I had written about it here before but I guess not.

  14. You know Murdoc, I’m a libertarian type.

    If you, in your opinion, got your moneys worth, and maybe even more, then I’m a Cameron fan!

  15. Cameron was always a “details” guy. It’s not that his stories are incredibly original, or that he does the best dialog, or takes on the Oscar scripts. What he does do is pretty good action/Sci-fi that is usually internally consistent, minimal plot holes, and has very, very realistically and plausibly represented technology and ambiance (even when that technology or ambiance is ridiculous outside of the movie). I mean, I thought the two Terminator movies he did were great. I loved the Abyss (better the short non-political version than the director’s cut), and even really enjoyed True Lies for what it was. Titanic was a friggin’ love story, and he still managed to bring his painstaking attention to detail to a story we all already knew, and made millions at it.

    So when I go to a Cameron movie, I’m pretty sure of what I’ll get. And it sounds like this movie delivers that.

  16. Saw it tonight in 3D. Was exactly what I expected from Cameron, and didn’t think the political jabs were too overt. The story was simple and obvious, but the star of the movie was the FX, and they come though like I’ve never seen before. And once again Cameron creates a fully realized world for his film, in this case an actual “world.” Will definitely be seeing it again.

    I was surprised that he didn’t get more creative with the weapons though. Like another poster mentioned, why an M-60 look alike? Aliens was almost psychic (and even when absurd very creative) in the imagining of future war technology and how it would look. Avatar falls a little, tiny bit short on that front.

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