I promise I'm reading Under the Dome. I'm on about page 550. It's just huge. But the review will come soon.
Yesterday, I saw Avatar. I only saw it in 2D, and only at a middle-of-the-afternoon showing. The theater was only half-full. But you know what? I found the film to be absolutely breathtaking.
When his brother is killed in battle, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch, while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity.
While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri, the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand - and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora. And when I say epic, I mean it takes most of the last hour of film. Yeah, epic.
There are those who criticize the film because of the familiarity of the story. But the familiarity is part of what makes the film work. It helps keep the viewer grounded in a world with infinite strangeness, which is populated on screen only by massive blue Na'vi 75% of the time. So this works for me. In the future, if sequels are made, I think Cameron can go for the more complex story, since we've now adjusted to the world.
The world of Pandora is what absolutely must be addressed next. It's beautiful, it's lush, and there are new wonders around every corner. And they are rendered with computer magnificently, so as not to draw attention to its technological origins. One of the people I was sitting next to said, not "Wow, these are incredible computer graphics," but "Wow, that's absolutely beautiful." And that's the truth. I know, in the back of my mind, a lot of this movie has to be on the computer, but I can't deny the life Pandora exhibits easily. I haven't been so absorbed in an alternate world since STAR WARS. And that should be reason enough to see it.
If not, how about a few more? There's great acting from Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and of course Sigourney Weaver. But remember, a lot of the actors have to project emotion through sophisticated motion capture technology. The performances feel real, even though we can't see the actors' faces most of the time. And the score by James Horner is wonderful, fitting the epic nature of the film beautifully.
What more can I say? Not everyone will like it, but Avatar was my favorite movie of the year. If you're not sure, go watch it. And bring friends.
My rating: 10/10
UPDATE: I've seen it in 3D since this review, and I can say it's groundbreaking in that aspect as well, allowing the viewer to be immersed in the action in a way 2D can't achieve. It's not corny, and there are no Jack-In-The-Box moments where objects fly at you for the sake of flying at you. If you can, see the movie in this format.
Coming Soon: Under the Dome.