Tuesday, December 22, 2009
AVATAR... Last Sunday, I watched James Cameron’s newest film on IMAX 3-D...and not surprisingly, it looked awesome! Cameron did an awesome job portraying an intriguing alien planet and species whose appearance popped right out through the wonders of 3-D. Floating mountains, exotic-looking plants and even an alien language that in real life was completely made up by a linguist who was enlisted from the University of Southern California... Cameron was very thorough in fleshing out the world of Pandora that was locked in his head for the past dozen or so years (as Cameron waited for special effects and camera technology to advance to the point where making Avatar would be possible...and also basking in the glory of making $1 billion at the worldwide box office and winning umpteenth Oscars for Titanic back in 1998).
Of course, some of you are probably wondering why I said that Avatar looked awesome...as opposed to being awesome. That’s because the film—as a couple of folks pointed out online in the months leading up to the movie’s release—had a storyline that wasn’t very original and was indeed derivative from other (Oscar-winning) films. Much as how some people pointed out that Titanic was similar to the 1939 Best Picture winner Gone with the Wind (both films had a love triangle set during a major historical event), Avatar was reminiscent of Dances with Wolves and Braveheart. It was also reminiscent of this year’s earlier well-reviewed sci-fi film District 9...in that the protagonist in that movie, Wikus van de Merwe (unintentionally) sheds his human skin to become just like the alien creatures he reluctantly has to protect in South Africa. In Avatar, Sam Worthington’s character Jake Sully (intentionally and permanently) sheds his human body to become one with the alien natives, the Na’vi, which he’s sworn to protect at the end of the film. If you haven’t seen Avatar yet, then ignore that last sentence (though I'm pretty sure you can guess this by watching the trailers). And yes, I’m 100% sure that the comparison to District 9 was definitely unintentional on Cameron’s part. I myself just found the fate of the main heroes in both flicks to be very similar.
In terms of the music, Avatar had a terrific film score by James Horner. However, I didn’t find the music as memorable as that in Titanic...or Apollo 13. Horner composed the score for those movies as well. Unlike Titanic’s music, which was on a CD album that was the bestselling film score since John Williams’ work on Star Wars in the late 70’s, I doubt Avatar will have any kind of presence on the Billboard music chart anytime soon. Oh well.
Lastly, will I watch Avatar at the movie theaters again? You betcha’! I saw it on a "fake" IMAX screen (which is nearly the same size as a regular movie screen but has an IMAX-quality sound system complementing it in the auditorium, and a digital print that has the same visual quality as an actual IMAX 70mm film reel) at an AMC theater on opening weekend, so I can assure you that I will be driving 20-30 miles to a "real" IMAX theater (specifically the one at the Irvine Spectrum’s Edwards 21 in Orange County) to watch James Cameron’s visionary work on the big screen again. Later.
Images courtesy of Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation