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My friend Helly recently remarked to me that I haven't been on here much lately. I do still read everyone daily, I just haven't had a lot to say. The end of the holiday season always makes me sad because I have to leave my family and head back to Texas, where I still really don't know many people. I miss my family and friends.

I refuse to let this devolve into the standard whingeing you see in most Livejournals, though. Instead, I'm going to talk about one of the most GORGEOUS movies I have ever seen (and I'm a film fanatic -- I've seen a lot of 'em).

It's James Cameron's "Avatar".


Right off the bat, I'll say that a lot of the criticisms that've been leveled at "Avatar" are accurate. Yes, it's incredibly derivative as far as story and plot go. The basic story -- gruff disillusioned protagonist visits somewhere new and different, gradually comes to care about the world and people he meets, and eventually winds up fighting for them and falling in love with one of them -- has been done dozens of times. The characters are mostly caricatures or stereotypes -- grizzled cigar-chomping Marine colonel, sharp-tongued doctor who hides her heart of gold behind her sharp words because of her devotion to science and concern for the natives, cocky flyboy (girl, in this case) whose only concern is being in the air, suspicious native who dislikes our protagonist because he suspects him of ulterior motives, blah blah blah. There are some good messages about environmentalism, rampant commercialism, xenophobia, an oppressive military and fearing what we don't understand, but they're delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And it's a LONG film -- while I personally love long movies, my girlfriend [livejournal.com profile] datalopez was squirming in her seat by the end of the film.

And you know what? I don't give a damn about any of that. Because what Cameron and his team have created is the most breathtakingly beautiful film I have seen in years.

The imagery is lush and fantastic. The characters look utterly real; this is the first live-action film to blend with CGI characters and do it in a believable, realistic fashion for me. Every attempt I've seen up till now to create humanoid characters with CGI has only worked if they were basically human in SHAPE, but never form -- see Jar Jar Binks or any of the dozens of alien characters in the Star Wars prequel films. "Avatar", on the other hand, has managed to -- well, maybe not destroy the uncanny valley utterly, but definitely give it a solid filling-in, with the beautifully rendered, compelling Na'vi. For once, I don't look at the characters and think "Wow, impressive CGI", I look at them and think "Wow, that's gorgeous, period".

The scenery, the planet, the surroundings, are just so lovely you want to cry. Colors explode off the screen, vibrant and intense. Find me a planet like this and I'll migrate offworld in a heartbeat. The creatures, the landscape, the floating mountains, the lush forests, the waterfalls -- just beautiful. You really CARE about this world, invented though it is. When Hometree was destroyed, I got all sniffly.


So, to sum up: utterly gorgeous film, lush and real. Caricature characters, recycled plot, and sledgehammer messages matter not one whit. This is a truly impressive visual spectacle and I urge you to see it in theaters -- in 3-D if possible -- because it really needs to be watched on a big screen to be properly appreciated. I can't wait to see how this one will look on Blu-ray so I can watch it at my leisure at home.

-- END OF LINE --

[[The Oracle would like to know what your favorite Christmas present was.]]
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Phil C.

April 2011

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