As strange as it seems to me, I’ve only ever done one other movie review on this blog. That was for The Secret, and I don’t know if that movie ever was brought to the theaters. I know was about to the theaters where I live, but it’s possible in the larger cities it did hit the big screens. No matter; here’s my first movie review of something I saw in a theater.
The truth of the matter is that I had no interest in going to see Avatar. While I’m usually crazy about science fiction movies, especially those involving aliens, usually I like the scenarios that are set up where we earthlings are trying to protect our existence. I don’t really know why, and I might have to think about that one of these days, but that’s usually my preference. I think it’s pretty much highlighted when you look back at my list of my favorite sci-fi movies. Anyway, my wife seemed to get caught up in all the publicity this time around, and suddenly she really want to go. And, since it wasn’t a chick flick, I figured why not.
We decided upon the 3-D movie because it was the earliest showing of the thing and we wanted to get it out of the way because we had heard it was close to three hours long. Despite all the numbers that everyone has been hearing about how this movie has been doing, the theater wasn’t packed. I’m not sure what that says about the movie or the fact that it was a 3-D, but I just type that out there.
Since the movie’s been out there for more than a month at this point, hopefully I’m not giving anything away to anybody who still really want to see this movie. But I’m not going to all that many details, so if I tell you what the story is about and you still want to go see it, remember that the movie is still three hours long while my synopsis is very short so you might still enjoy it.
The story is about a race of tall blue creatures in human form living on an alien moon that someone has discovered is rich with a mineral that we, the bad earthlings, desperately want. We have found that it’s not so easy getting what we want from these people who, though primitive, have shown themselves to be a pretty good match against those trying to take their resources. So the thought is to create avatars that look like the blue people, link human minds to these avatars, and have them interact with the blue people, learning their culture and trying to figure out a peaceful way to get them to leave so we can take their stuff.
One of the people who gets linked to an avatar turns out to be a former Marine who has lost the use of his legs and ends up taking over the avatar from his scientist brother who somehow gets killed. Of course he takes over the avatar without any training and without anyone determining what his overall mental state might be. At some point he integrates with these people, who accept him even though they know he’s not really one of them and shows him their ways. Even though it turns out that he’s a double agent, because while he’s with some people who are trying to find a peaceful solution, there is a military buildup which is basically waiting to go in and take whatever they want if a peaceful solution can be found. He of course ends up wanting to help these people keep what they have, because it turns out they have a symbiosis with every living thing on this moon and he comes to understand that, and they need his help to overcome the overwhelming technology of the military so that they can preserve their way of life in the end.
I have to say I like Avatar, I can’t say I loved it. I did not walk out of the movie saying “wow, I got to see that again”. A few hours later, I didn’t have this movie running through my head making me feel as though I had seen something I’ve never seen before. There were couple of great action scenes I’d have to say, where you see stuff blown up, some fight scenes, and some battles with wildlife. And I love stuff like that, yet for whatever reason this movie just didn’t grab me like some other movies have. It was well filmed and well acted, but I just didn’t ever get any emotional involvement in this movie. It’s quite possible that I was numbed by all the attention and publicity this movie had gotten beforehand. That happened to me once before when I eventually saw E.T. the first time and absolutely hated it. Years later when I saw it again I started to love that movie.
On a scale of 1 to 5 I would probably rank Avatar a 3 1/2. I was less emotionally involved in this movie that James Cameron’s other fantastic movie Titanic. Maybe it was the 3-D version that threw me off a little bit. I’m not crazy about having to wear 3-D glasses, and these days they tend to make movies look darker than they’re supposed to be, and I’m not usually crazy about watching movies that seem to be dark throughout most of it. The 3-D effects weren’t bad, but there were some things I thought needed to be stronger for a better effect.
By the way, I want to address one criticism of the movie that I’ve heard. Some critics have said that they see some racial overtones in this movie because, in their words, once again the white man had to save a group of people of color instead of there being able to find a way to save themselves. It’s kind of an ignorant statement by people who have no clue in my opinion of what technology can do against anybody who has no clue about technology. Native Americans did not lose in this country because they didn’t have heart or skill, they lost because they didn’t have the kind of technology that guns offer. If you’ve ever seen the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data proves that one person with the right technology can take out an entire village, and then hears him say that there are ways to take people out without even needing the ability to see those people, you get to understand that intelligence and heart isn’t always enough to overcome things. I wonder what the criticism would have been if the main character of this movie had been someone like Will Smith. If there hadn’t been the same conversation, then those people would’ve been disingenuous because it wasn’t a racial issue from the get go, it was a technological issue. You people who still might think this; get over it! And I say that with some risk since my wife, who actually liked the movie more than me, thought it had racial overtones as well.
If anyone else has seen Avatar, I like to know your opinion to see whether you agree with me or not.