06 February 2010

Avatar blues

An impromptu annual leave day left Mrsslippy and I with some spare time to do that thing that we do so rarely, a trip to the flicks.

Both sceptical of the hype surrounding Avatar, it wouldn't normally have been my first choice, nor hers, but as it's supposed to be a 'game changer', it seemed only fair to give it a look see on the big screen whilst wearing daft glasses.

And my thoughts on it?


It was ok...

If it hadn't been hyped quite so much, then I may have liked it more, and there's no denying that it was absolutely beautifully rendered. Everything did look real, and the 3D worked so much better than the shonky stuff of my childhood, but was still little more than a distracting gimmick at times.

It's probably due to the way our eyes work. In real life if you're looking at something in the foreground, things in the background are out of focus. You look over to them, and your focus pulls the image sharp. In a 2D film the director tells you where to focus. If the camera is on something in the foreground, all that background action will always remain a fuzzy blur.

What 3D cinema does is fool you into thinking you can actually focus on things that the director doesn't want you to. We get a close up of Sam Worthington, and my eyes dance round the screen looking at stuff that my brain is telling me is further away, but no matter how much I squint and stare, I cannot bring it into focus.

We'd been led to believe that this film would have been unmakeable until now, because the technology didn't exist to make it, and now that it does, the only thing that limits what we can do in films is our imagination.

Someone should tell Jim Cameron that, because that sadly was the thing that the film desperately lacked.

It was just Pochahontas/Dances with Wolves in space, and the redskins are now blue.

We were told that Jim had visualised a whole planet with a diverse ecosystem and hundreds of wondrous beasts.

What we got was a CGI rain forest with some very pretty luminescent plants, and a handful of beasts from the imagination of Cameron, with his imagination limited to such deep thoughts as "Imagine if a rhino fucked a hammerhead shark? How cool would that be?" or "What about a six legged horse with a face like an anteaters"

George Lucas (and his team of designers) have imagined and built a whole Star Wars universe in the films and spin off games. Anyone who's wasted far to much of their life wandering through the realms of Azeroth will have seen all sorts of landscapes and creatures. Even a child with ten minutes in the ceature genertaor in Spore could have come up with a few more interesting indigenous life forms. Glow in the dark plants and a handful of hybrids ain't nothing special Jimbo.

"And imagine those drop ships and heavy loaders that I imagined so well in Aliens," I imagine Jim said "Imagine if we used them again because they were so super cool?"

They were cool Jim, but we've seen them before. So why on Earth (or Pandora) have we advanced so far technologically that interstellar travel and conscious transplantation is possible, but in order to blow up a tree we have to have helicopters escorting a mahoosive bomber past floating mountains (not even gonna go there...) in order to push a couple of pallet loads of TNT out the back?

A simple story of boy meets tall blue girl, falls in love, embraces her values and come to realise that capitalism, environmental destruction and genocide are so not cool, but will still use a machine gun in the final Na'vi versus humans battle, because guns still are cool if you're a nine foot neon blue warrior.

And while I'm getting it off my chest Jim, why invent a whole language for your Na'vi, only to subtitle them with an off the shelf shitty typeface like Papyrus?Why not really take the piss and do it in Comic Sans? $500 million to make and you couldn't even be bothered to pay for someone to design a font for you?

But it's not all moan, moan, moan. It's just ..meh...

I loved the look of the film, and would probably have loved it more in 2D where my brain and eyes knew what they were doing. I loved the direction. CGI really let Jim put the camera and follow the action from anywhere he wanted, and he is a great director. I loved Zoe Saldanas turn as Neytiri. It's her subtly mo capped performance that breathes life into the character and makes her so real.

And I hated the one dimensional human characters. Walking cliche's the lot of them. I hated Jims clunky dialogue, and the *spoiler alert* way that Sigourney Weavers death pretty much gave away the ending of the film before the battle even started. The animals saving the day, the oh so amusingly titled 'unobtanium', 3D photos embedded in a 3D film, the touchy feely spiritual bollocks that's about as subtle as Jim carving 'Stop destroying the planet man!' into your chest with a rusty compass - all shit.

On the whole a good bit of escapist nonsense. Nice eye candy, and an easy way to kill a few hours. But not a game changer.

If it's true that we finally have the technology to make anything we imagine look real, we need to make that technology available to film makers that have that imagination in the first place. Step forward Neil Blomkamp. District 9 cost only $30 million to make, and is an incredible film, but will no doubt be over looked for the over bloated Avatar come Oscar season. I'd love to see a 3D fookin prawn.

At least the glasses are reusable. If I pop them on now and look at the cat, it's like I could almost reach out and touch him. Amazing technology.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the colours in this film...but the 3D gave me a headache and would have actually preferred to watch it in 2D to appriciate the colours without the migraine! Sis.