Avatar Blues

February 12, 2010

OK, I’ve finally seen enough about this film.  I saw it in 3-D at an IMAX theater, and have to warn you that if you’ve ever had vertigo, do NOT see this in 3-D.  Since I do get it, occasionally–full-disclosure here–being nauseous the whole time didn’t predispose me to like the movie.  That said, I’ve still got a lot of OTHER bitches about it, from technical, to techno-cal, to story, to “message”.   I’ll do message at the end.  Trivia bitches first.

First–the techno.  My god man, just because you CAN do 3-D doesn’t mean every single scene must be floating like a drunken sailor on a heaving sea.  Two people stand there talking so, just to make SURE you don’t forget it’s 3-D, the camera is swaying from side to side, moving up and down, in totally meaningless and random motion.  The ONLY reason for such drunken camerawork is to prove it’s 3-D.  It distracts you from the conversation between the characters (perhaps allowing you to forget how inane it is), and takes away from the story.  Actually, the story IS the special effects.  PHOOEY!

Then there was the continuity problem.  Since I had to keep closing my eyes to ward off nausea, I got to see things a bit differently.  At one point, the bad guy, in his huge “Transformers”-like robo-warrior armor, had his shirt sleeve on fire.  He did a bunch of stuff before beating out the fire.  When I opened my eyes again I saw a slashed and torn (NOT charred) shirt-sleeve with pale white skin under it.  Good grief, man.  This was a fire.  My guess is over 10 seconds of full-on flame.  And nothing is charred?

And those robo-warriors:  built to order for over-testosteroned steroid worshippers.  When these 12-foot machines walked, the bass-reverb over-amped sound could have been footsteps from the empire state building walking.   Stupid.    But when the tree of life fell—something that looked a lot bigger than the empire state building–or the world trade buildings, for that matter—sound, dust, hi-amped reverb be damned.  In relative silence, dodge the branches flying through the air and stand there and watch.  It didn’t throw up debris from the forest floor as the ground shook.  The ground hardly seemed to shake.   When, in real life, a block of stone fell off the face of Yosemite, the sonic boom flattened trees for hundreds of yards.  FLATTENED full growth trees, just the shock wave from the sound.  But our dear Na’vi just stood and watched.  I suppose it’s like movie space stations exploding with fire and sound even tho there’s no oxygen to burn or air of any sort to send sound waves, but the demand suspension of disbelief was too erratic for me to switch gears from too-loud robots to too-quiet forest mammoths falling.

My biggest gripe was the war-movie fervor which drove the military side of this movie.  If the message is that the Na’vi culture was wonderful, it was delivered with a military overkill that was prurient in the extreme.  I personally don’t enjoy long war and battle scenes with over-the-top sci-fi overkill machines.  This isn’t fun cinema for me.  The movie was apparently made for people who think this is fun.  What amazes me is how many people are going all gooey over the innocence and holism of Pandoora and saying how fabulous the movie is because of that.  I guess we have to appeal to the violent and sadistic preferences of movie goers to even get them to see an alternative.  That disgusts me, too.   I don’t like appealing to the worst in people in order to “improve” them.  Wrong-headed thinking.

I loved Jon Stewart last nite, when discussing a new film by a different director who said “I think most film-makers underestimate the intelligence of their audience.”  Stewart quipped “You mean you didn’t use 3-D?”


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