So I went out to the movies last night for the first time. Saw A SINGLE MAN, more of which in a later post, because before I got a chance to write about that, I took a chance on a cold rainy night (the only weather I don't like is rain when it's in the thirties, or even forties, it should be snowing, I don't mind snow on a cold day or Summer rain or even Spring showers or Fall, anyway) and went with my son and two friends to AVATAR.
I heard it was as seminal a technologically revolutionary leap forward for movies as THE JAZZ SINGER was (the first talkie to wow movie audiences). It's not. More like STAR WARS—derivative, simplistic and even cliched, BUT technologically a very clever leap forward that wowed audiences and influenced the making of movies ever after, at least ones that involved computer technology.
There were computer effects breakthroughs before STAR WARS but nothing as fun or innovative technically as I remember it. Anyway, I was expecting to find the story for AVATAR trite and obvious but to be impressed by the technology. But maybe because I had such low expectations for the traditional qualities of a good movie and nothing but a technology show, I was pleasantly surprised.
I enjoyed it enormously, though I got a little bored toward the end of the second act when a normal length movie would have been ending but we still had almost an hour to go. But the effects were so luscious and extravagant, and the story line, though simple and totally derivative, so actually engaging for me, I found myself thinking that this film maybe should win an Academy Award just for the impact it's obviously having and the movie-going pleasure it's giving to so many.
The acting was good for this kind of action/fantasy flick (I especially dug Stephen Lang who is a terrific villain and Michelle Rodriquiez who livens up the movie in the renegade sidekick role and is the only actor in it who makes her lines resonate with the kind of classic movie wise guy/tough guy attitude I wish she'd been on screen more), but no Oscars should go to anyone here. And the writing is too obvious. But the overall effect of what the technology accomplishes and the ways it is integrated into the familiar story line is undeniably impressive.
It would certainly be a boost to the Oscars and to movies in general if it won.
[Oh yeah, I was also thinking while watching this how silly and racist it is that most movies (maybe all) about the future always have "white" guys (and some women) running everything. The screen is always majority "white"—except for the "natives" etc. (in this case blue). And also wanted to add that watching THE SINGLE MAN was pretty easy in that it's a small cast of characters and mostly confined sets etc., and was expecting AVATAR to present a different challenge for my post-brain surgery sense, but it turned out to be—once I adjusted to the glasses—a successful and satisfying movie experience, and maybe is contributing to my enthusiasm for it.]