Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avatar



I went to see Avatar yesterday. It is certainly the best movie I’ve seen this year, period! Before I saw it. I did have extreme high expectation on the visual part of this movie after reading many articles about the technology side of the movie. On the other hand, I did have a bit concern about the story of the movie, I was worried that I would be fully distracted by the visual part and would find the story itself to be difficult to understand and follow. Well, my concern was totally invalid. This movie didn’t disappoint me a bit.

Visuals: This is the best 3D movies that I’ve ever seen. First of all, the whole movie is 3D, not part of it. The CGs is simply mesmerizing. The interaction between human and CG characters are simply stunningly smooth. The planet of Pandora is amazing; Jim Cameron is ambitious enough to create a complete ecosystem for the movie. Though, they are basically mountains, sea, and forest. But, to create something that’s so familiar to us, but completely new and good enough to fool our eyes is not easy. Also, the environment fit the story like a glove.

In terms of creatures on the planet, the animals were moving swiftly. I’m sure there are many more animals found in the movies than I can remember, but there are few that had given me greater impression than the others like the ‘rhinos’ with hammer head, the giant black hair-less ‘panther’, the six-legs ‘horses’ and the flying dragons. They must be inspired by other movies or comic books, but they certainly did a good job that serves the story.
Na vi’, the 12 feet tall, blue skin natives on Pandora with tails are the main characters of the movie. Well, after visually see them in motion; I would agree with what Jim Cameron had reportedly expected in this movie that these characters are believable to be alive and able to wear emotion on their faces to portrait the characters that they are playing. I would say this is certain a big leap forward in terms of CGs in movie making. Cos, CG characters are difficult to make believable. After this movie, I would say that the last and final ultimate goal for the CG technology is to create CG human character that is good enough to fool our eyes to believe them to be real human. Anyway, that’s my side track thought.

This is a sci-fi movie with actions. The action part is very fluid. The aircraft looks fine and the robots are….well…remind me as an improved version of those from Matrix Revolution. However, the final 20 minutes or so of the movie with the epic battle are just very cool and they look so real! I’m not sure how they do it, but the visual fit with the story real well.

Story: Jim Cameron is just a good story teller. I think it is very important. Cos he used to write scripts for other people’s movies before he became a great director. In fact, Jim Cameron also wrote the scripts (or at least originate the story) of his own movies. The great thing about Jim Cameron is that his stories are not complicated, and are actually old fashion tales. In Titanic, it is a basically about a poor boy fall in love with a rich girl, wrapped around in the premise of a sinking ship. In Avatar, it is basically the story of David against Goliath, wrapped around in interstellar conflict on resource exploration and preservation with a touch of love. Well, the stories are simple, but they work! Cos, if he tries to make the story too complicated, it may still works but it may also lose some mass appeal for audience who are simply seeking entertainment, not philosophical lesson. In fact, if audiences are losing track of what’s going on in a complicated story, it would be difficult for them to care about the characters. This is the most critical point to distinguish between a great sci-fi action movie and mediocre/bad ones.

Hollywood has top notch technology and the best resource to make great action movies. In fact, you can find many memorable scenes and pieces in many mediocre sci-fi or action movies. However, for most audiences, they would say...yeah the car chase scene, the fight scene about certain movies, this and that are great. But….the overall movies were not good. Cos, the audience doesn’t care about what the characters are fighting for, they see explosions, this and that, but those scenes might not serve the story well. I think Avatar is able to avoid falling in such trap. To be honest, I buy the story and was able to even ‘feel’ the Na vi’ characters and on their side while they are fighting the main villains of the movies who are happened to be…..human! As a person who has seen hundreds of movies, I’m indeed surprise by such feeling, and because of this, I can’t praise enough how amazing Jim Cameron is able to pull this movie off. What an achievement!
Another great thing about the story of this movie is that it can be improvised in many ongoing conflicts among the powerful and the weak in the world these days. I’ve read many people put the movie in the context of current conflicts between two sides in the war on terror, in the global warming fallout among developed and developing nations, and even smaller scale conflicts between government and local natives on land/culture preservation. As such conflicts are not only ongoing, similar conflicts did happen all through history and will surely happen in future. This makes such David vs. Goliath type of stories be able to test against time, and meanwhile create universal appeal to different peoples all over the world. Cos, every little guy can see him/herself as Na vi’. With the inspiring ending of the movies, I’ll be really surprise if this movie can’t be popular all over the world.

One thing that I’ve not mentioned much about this movie is the human actors. I would say that they are doing decent jobs and Jim Cameron is about to give them enough ‘meat’ to portrait what kind of characters they are, with enough room to act under the premise of the script, but without causing any threat to the performance of the CG characters. It itself is another amazing achievement of Jim Cameron. Well, to be honest, I don’t really have much to criticize this movie, cos the image and the whole movie experience is still overwhelming my senses. I may have deeper thoughts and am able to come up with few criticisms on here and there in future. However, right at this moment, I just haven’t any bad things to say about this movie which ‘must’ be seen on big screen. No download or small screen will do justification on this masterpiece!

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