Monday, January 11, 2010

I did it- I saw Avatar

8:00 PM, a Wednesday evening.  I sneak out as D finishes up the girls' bath/bed routine.  I am going to see Avatar!

8:15 PM. L and I can get tickets for Avatar (regular), Avatar (3D), Avatar (IMAX), Avatar (3D IMAX). Oops, IMAX is sold out. L's research shows that the IMAX screen isn't great anyway.  We get tix for the 3D show-- and the cool glasses that go with it.

There are not your Captain EO paper 3D glasses.  They're hard black plastic, sort of like those cheesy Raybans featured on stuffwhitepeoplelike right now.

And I have my a-ha moment about why this film has already made over $1 BILLION.  Because people are paying at least twice the normal amount for tons of these shows.  I paid $15.  If you go to see this in 3D or IMAX, you're going to pay a lot more.  And then you're probably going to be wowed and come back and bring ten friends with you.

8:30 PM.  Previews. Yawn!  Why do they assume that I want to see ONLY action movie previews?  Avatar audiences might skew that way, or might have at first, but they have to know with this many people seeing it, it's going to be attracting MORE than just the 13 yr old boy crowd.  Some of whom, including 13 yr old boys, want to see previews that aren't CrazyExplosions 3.

And nobody wants to see Tom Cruise coolly pulling out guns, wisecracking with a yelping Cameron Diaz. Yikes.

8:36.  Wait! Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland preview-- in 3D!  Now this is very cool.  This is trippy and it totally should be trippy.  Alice in Wonderland is such a freaky story, and Johnny Depp is such a great Mad Hatter.

[NOTE- this timeline is probably way off.]

8:40 ish.  Main characters introduced. Main good guy (Jake Sully- yes really) seems to have a Boston-ish accent?  Or is that just an Australian-inflected American accent? Main bad guy seems to have a Southern accent.  Ah, the Mason Dixon line never really vanished.  (Seriously-- anyone living in the DC area right now could attest to this.)

Basic basic story- planet has very valuable mineral humans want. Humans can't live in this atmosphere, so we create 'avatars' -- bodies that look and function like the planet's native population, but are controlled by a human remotely.

Sigourney Weaver is the lead scientist, and though I usually love her, I have to say this performance didn't do much for me.  I didn't get all the cigarette smoking (?! in a place where your created atmosphere is so valuable? And isn't smoking so twentieth century anyway?), and the weird random anger.

8:50 ish. They pull out the cool movie effects early, with gorgeous 3D effects of computer imaging onscreen that we can only imagine now (at least at the home computing level).  I won't give away much, but the best 3D effects are in the forest, where you can practically feel the ferns brush past, see the lovely frail flowers.  Happily, you get to spend a lot of time in the forest.  The very best is nighttime in the forest-- pretty magical even if it weren't in 3D.  Do I sound SO geeky by now?

But the audience literally gasped at the first major nighttime forest scene.

9:00 ish.  L pulls out a lovely bottle of drinky, taking advantage of the theater's policy that you CAN bring your own covered drink to the theater.

9:15 ish.'s Michelle Rodriguez playing a tough girl.  Wha-? You too might be surprised at this.  How can such a sweet, shy type... ok, I can't pull off sarcasm that long.  Yep, she's in law enforcement again.

Also, early introduction to some of the weapons and tools.  Here's where I got my first inkling of a homage-to-plus-besting-of Star Wars.  There's a thing that's like an Imperial Walker, but you can see the person driving it, so it makes the violence more personal (foreshadowing!).  Very easy to compare this thing to the avatars and realize we're talking about brute force versus diplomacy.

Jake gets into a scrape, looks like a boorish fool with a giant gun.  Over the course of the movie, starts to look less boorish.  I have to hand it to James Cameron-- if you're inclined to hate the guy at the beginning, you'll be impressed by his journey by the end.  And if you're inclined to like him from the start, you'll be with him through his epiphanies.


11: 10 PM. Finis!  A bottle clatters on the floor.  Not ours! By the end of the film, Cameron has hit you over the head a couple times with his themes, but it feels satisfying because the whole movie is kind of a battering ram of fun.

If you're thinking about finding out what all the fuss is about, my rec is to go for it in 3D.  If you'd rather not pay for it in 3D, then you might as well just wait for it to come out on video because without the visual effect of 3D, the story/plot isn't quiiiite enough (in my opinion) to make it worth seeing on the big screen.