Monday, January 4, 2010


So what better way to start off our movie reviews than with the biggest movie of 2009, both in budget and hype. At the time of this post, Avatar has grossed over $350,000,000 in US box office and has only been out for sixteen days! That ludicrous fact is a feat in itself, but add in that it has been boasting superior 3D technology and there is no possible way you can ignore this film. Whether the abundance of previews leading to Avatar’s release annoyed the hell out of you (Gina) or not, you’re most likely going to see it at some point. So let’s get to it.

From the opening scene, you are engaged it the atmosphere of this majestic world James Cameron has created. All three of us agree that it is some of the best CG seen in a movie; you can see the actors’ faces clearly in their alien counterparts. That balance of wide landscapes and details of the futuristic technology is what makes you not even notice the 2 hr 40 min run time.

Chad: I understand the importance of it, but I could have done without the alien love scene. Yes, nerds, there is an alien love scene!

I would summarize the plot but you really see all the set up that you need in the trailers. Gina mentioned that she was curious to see more back story of some of the characters, especially the gung-ho Col. Quaritch who was played quite convincingly. Though, while it perked my curiosity, I found that somehow you’re not left feeling that you are missing something even though nothing much is told about anyone prior to when we are thrown into the present situation. In fact it works to the story’s advantage because we are as much in the dark with them as the human invaders are of the native inhabitants, the Na’vi.

While all the actors do a great job - don’t hold your breath for any awards, though, due to the overpowering special effects and all around visual stimulation – the piquant performances go to Sam Worthington, as Jake Sully the paraplegic marine infiltrating the Na’vi, and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, the native assigned to teaching him their history and culture. The chemistry and nuances of their relationship, paired with superb writing that manages to explain so much with so little, envelop you in their world to the point that you feel for both the Na’vi, as if you were one of them, and Sully’s loyalty to his own.

The rest of the Na’vi are also well developed not only as a whole, but individually as well, and in such a short amount of time again I’m amazed at the writers for accomplishing this. The wild plant life and creatures that inhabit the planet, and the tamed ones that act as carriers for the Na’vi have as little screen time as that guy from ‘Friends’ (you know… the one that played Phoebe’s brother, or cousin, or something) yet still have some of the most breathtaking scenes. When Sully first “connects” with the horse-like creature (which sorry Gina you are still on your own in thinking it was kind of sexual), his taming of the dragon inspired flyer, and the Na’vi connection with the great tree all affirm the story and give reason for the epic battle scenes rather than basing the movie’s plot around the action.

And now to the proclaimed ‘next generation’ 3D… It has got to be the best 3D I have ever seen! It uses an immeasurable depth that makes it like watching real life. However, what I found to be what 3D should be is what both Gina and Chad don’t want 3D to become.

Gina: At times I didn’t even know I was watching a 3D movie, which is a problem I think. It was more like and LED screen only you had these uncomfortable glasses on.

Chad: What I feel was the best use of 3D in a movie was My Bloody Valentine. I know what you are all thinking, “What the hell!!! A horror movie, how stupid is this guy?” Yes, a horror movie, which is where 3D works at its best. It was cocky with its 3D, which is exactly what this needed to be. No doubt, Avatar had the better technology, but it lacked the cajones to show it off. There were only about five scenes that were “WOW” moments in the film and for a nearly 3-hour movie that is marketed for its 3D technology, that’s not nearly enough.

For me, this is what I want the future of 3D movies to be. I don’t need to see something fly at my face every thirty seconds. The way the elements are layered, from the bugs fluttering through the foreground branches to the floating mountains adorning the skyscape, create a subtle realness so carefully done that you can’t help but be amazed.

So I think it’s unanimous for us that Mr. Cameron and his crew have created another cinematic masterpiece on par with Titanic. It will win awards and it will become one of the top ten all time US box office grossing films; considering it’s already at number 15 it’s not exactly risky to say that it might break Titanic’s mark of $600M+. And our ratings…

Kevin: 9 of 10 stars

Gina: 8 of 10 stars

Chad: 4 of 5 beers. Yes, I said beers! That’s how I role, deal with it.

So our combined rating (after converting Chad’s beers to our stars) is

8.5 of 10 stars

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