After weeks of mocking the ads, doubting the movie, and marveling at the fanboys, it was time to go see Avatar. So, David, Sonia and I hit the metreon IMAX to see, as David called it, “Ferngully Everquest III: Dancing with Smurfs in 3 Dimensions.”
In an effort to avoid getting there late and having to sit in the neck-breaking front row (which totally happened last time I saw an IMAX movie), I got there 45 minutes early, only to find… that the theater was half-full. Woah! (Side note: when you arrive to find a theater half-full, are you still being optimistic? Like isn’t it more positive to say you saw it as half-empty? What if the expression was “See the theater as half-empty” instead of “See the glass as half-full”?)
We managed to get pretty good seats, high enough up that the entire screen was visible with minimal neck-relocation. There weren’t any ads, which was nice (especially considering that tickets were $17), so we got this awesome world-beat “WELCOME TO IMAAXXXXX” video, where the screen described and showed us all the awesome speakerssss and screenssss and stuff, and then… AVATAR.
I of course won’t spoil anything story-related, but dude. This movie was some freakin’ eye-candy the likes of which I have never seen. I had some pretty serious doubts about it – the ads looked silly, and the story sounded trite, it was basically FernGully… but here’s the thing: all of that is totally true, but when you’re seeing it in action, on that screen the size of a parking lot with the ridiculously beautiful 3-D glowing plants and the sizzling bullets just jumping off and shit, and you just can’t help but be blown away by it.
Every time a groaner line of dialogue would make me roll my eyes, they wouldn’t get to half-roll before some crazy wondrous thing would happen onscreen – these insane-o whirlygig glowing nightcrawlers were my favorite – and I’d be bugging out all over again. Like, there were actually whole scenes of the movie that made my jaw drop, like one of those people in the ads for movies. If you have the option, see it in IMAX – the movie is so impressive-looking that it gives credence to the entire notion of the New Age of 3D Movies.
As Sonia pointed out, several scenes in the film, mostly to do with the Na’avi (those are the huge blue alien people) and their rituals, felt akin to watching the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing Olympic Games. Just total sensory overload, a voice in the back of your head saying “Dude, how in the hell did they even MAKE this?”
Which was a question I actually asked several times. Whether it was the touch-sensitive, glowing flora, the incredible skydives of a huge red flying pterodactylmonster, or the way that embers and bullets would shoot off the screen at you… it was just ridiculous. Whatever you may say about James Cameron, the dude’s still got it. And by “it,” I mean “gigantic balls.”
So, yeah, if it’d been an animated film that came out ten years ago, it would’ve been wholly unremarkable, literally FernGully, the sort of movie where people say “Oh, you know, actually, I really like that movie!” But it’s not that, it’s Avatar, and it is not, (thankfully!), a spectacle of the handheld “you-are-there” variety that so many filmmakers have become enamored of these past five or so years. Nope, Avatar is a real goddamn spectacle, full of the kind of larger-than-anything-you’ve-ever-seen, balls-out impressive stuff that I wish more movies had.
And it bears mentioning that this isn’t some movie about robots from space or a monster invasion or something… it’s a movie about how people suck and destroy nature, and how important it is to be connected to the world around us. Which, sure, it’s not There Will Be Blood or anything, but it’s still nice.
Basically, the movie made me feel like I was 14 again, stoked as hell for a big event film and years away from the bloggy, opinionated internet scrooge I am today. That’s something a movie hasn’t done in a long time, maybe not since The Two Towers. I turned off my brain and let the absurdly pretty pictures overwhelm me, and it felt good.