Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fantasies: Avatar Rocks!

Since I started this blog in July, I haven't missed a post. Oh, I've been late a few times, but I've never skipped one... until now. Thursday is normally my day to reflect on thoughtful things. But yesterday, I was focused on one thing only, and if you read my post on Wednesday, you might already know what that one thing is...

Last night, around nine o'clock, Dan and I headed out to Harahan – a suburb of New Orleans – for the nearest IMAX theater that was showing a midnight screening of Avatar, James Cameron's long-awaited 3-D extravaganza. The rain was coming down something fierce, but we made it there in one piece. When we arrived at the theater, it was nearing ten, and no one was there yet. We were even told to return around eleven-thirty. Given that we used to live in Los Angeles, where it wasn't impossible for folks to arrive several hours before a midnight screening, we were a little surprised, but in lieu of waiting in the lobby, we decided to kill some time at a nearby Best Buy. The hilarious thing is that, as we strolled the aisles, salivating over new Wii games, I was the one that began to get anxious – even though Dan had been looking forward to this flick for far longer than I. Finally, my whining wore him down and we returned to the theater around ten-thirty, only to find that forty or so moviegoers were already in the theater. Good thing we hadn't listened to the twerp who told us to come back at eleven-thirty.

Anyway, for an hour and a half, we sat among other Cameron fanatics, chatting with one another, joking about what nerds we were, twiddling with our 3-D glasses, and waiting impatiently for the movie to start. My mother – who'd been in town earlier in the day – could have been there with us, but she'd scoffed when we asked if she, at her age, was up for a midnight movie. The joke was on her when I spotted one of her friends there, with her grown son. (So, see Bane, you're never too old – or too tired – to be a little crazy.)

About an hour before the film was set to start, the house lights came up suddenly, and we all squinted in minor agony. Apparently, some of those seated had either snuck into the theater – or “accidentally” come into the wrong one (for there was another screening, the non-IMAX version, happening in another theater down the hall). Some ushers and managers began checking tickets, several sneaky folks were busted, and the lights were dimmed again. Somehow, our row was skipped – and Dan and I joked that we could've snuck into the sold-out theater after all... which, of course, we'd never do. Hehe.

By twelve-ten, the natives were restless. (The movie was supposed to have started at twelve-oh-one.) But then, the room went dark, a few previews played (How to Train Your Dragon, Alice in Wonderland, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief among them), and it was time to put on our 3-D glasses. You should've heard the collective sigh of joy at that moment.

Now, without giving too much away, let me just say this... The movie was freakin' amazing. As you might already know, it's essentially about Jake Sully, a paraplegic human soldier who is dispatched to the planet Pandora in order to infiltrate the native Na'vi (as a “dreamwalker”) and force them to relocate – allowing a greedy corporation the opportunity to mine a precious material from beneath the Na'vi's sacred tree. As expected, Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and must choose sides in the escalating battle. Basically, this is Dances with Wolves (incidentally, one of my favorite movies) on an alien planet – complete with bizarre plants, strange animals, and incandescent colors.

The landscape is rich with detail, and the CG characters seem incredibly real – helped, of course, by Cameron's ground-breaking 3-D technology, which utterly immerses you within the story. Honestly, this is the finest example of 3-D filmmaking that I've ever seen. Not once did the 3-D waver (which I've heard is even better in the IMAX format, as we saw it) – not once did I notice blurring or shadows. I felt that I was standing in the forest with them – or flying through the air as the Na'vi do. Beyond the colors and the details, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It's moving, poignant, spiritual, magical, exciting, amusing at times, even tragic – and all the actors are wonderful. Sam Worthington (who plays "Jake") and Sigourney Weaver are especially good – considering they're each playing human characters as well as their Na'vi counterparts (which, due to Peter Jackson's incredible motion-capture technology, look and move just like them). Other talents are equally terrific, including Zoe Saldana, who voices Jake's love interest; Michelle Rodriguez, who doesn't usually impress me; and Wes Studi, whose voice helps to solidify the Dances with Wolves comparison.

Some of the negative reviews have claimed that the 3-D imagery is better than the "2-D" characters, but I completely disagree. As with most Cameron films, the technology, story, and characters go hand-in-hand, and this story resonated long after the movie sadly ended. I'm still reliving the best moments – and needless to say, Dan and I are planning to see it again on Monday. (After all, how often does a movie fully deliver on its promise?)

As many of the comments on my Wednesday post indicated, not everyone intends to see this film in the theater (much less three or four times, as we plan to). Believe me, I understand how difficult it can be to schedule such a trip – especially for those who have children. I also know that not all movie lovers – even those without kids, like me and Dan – are as, uh, committed as we are when it comes to “proper” movie-going experiences. But I must admit – without bias or agenda – that seeing Avatar in IMAX 3-D is the best way to see this film. No doubt about it, seeing it on the small screen just won't do it justice.

So, Steph, for the love of whatever, I hope you get the chance to see it this weekend as you and Dom intend – and see it right. I'm dying to know what you think.

11 comments:

Becky said...

Cool! So glad you enjoyed it! It's playing in Pendleton, but not in 3D. The nearest 3D is 45 min. away, in Walla Walla. You should be so proud of me for knowing that ;-). I'm tempted to take the boys, but it's PG-13 and they're 9 and 11. Can't figure out the rating system, but that's a whole different post. They watched Julie and Julia with us, and that was so tame. But then you have other movies that are PG, but should be PG-13. Go figure... I guess that's where the "PG" comes in...

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Becky, if you can, you should see it in 3-D! And as for the rating, well, I don't think it's an objectionable PG-13. I mean, the Na'vi are mostly naked, but they're also blue - and aliens. And although Jake (as a Na'vi) kisses his "mate," that's as much as we see. Of course, a battle ensues, ships blow up, Na'vi get shot, and arrows pierce the humans, but again, it's not a bloody film. Personally, I think your boys could handle it... but then, I'm not a mama. Unless you count my cat. :-)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post- I didn't even know what the movie was about and we don't have Imax theatres in Alaska. (Love the British spelling of threatre, by the way.)

Now I can put this on my list of movies to see!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Steph! Phooey, I keep forgetting that you live in Alaska. No IMAX theaters there? Holy wow. Well, never fear, the movie is still good enough to be seen without the IMAX 3-D hoopla. In fact, someone I know saw it in regular 2-D, and still loved it. So, enjoy it however you get to see it!

P.S. Oh, I love the British spelling of "theater," too. But I'm an American creature of habit, I'm afraid.

Matthew Delman said...

The way I understood it, being a theatre minor and all in college, is that there's live theatre and then there's movie theaters. Each word refers to two different types.

Of course that could just be actor-bias. Meh.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Great review Laura. I haven't been to a theater in years and years but I want to go now, Avatar sounds awesome!! I have no idea how far I would have to travel to find a 3-D theatre in these parts...

Bane of Anubis said...

I'm stoked -- the wife and I are seeing it IMAX tonight.

Susan R. Mills said...

I heard it was fantastic. I will definitely have to see it in IMAX.

Laura Martone said...

Matt - You might be right, but I still think it's a cultural difference. After all, how would you explain "colour"?

Deb - Thanks! I sure hope you get to see it. Wonder how far a 3-D theater is from you...

Bane - So, whatdya think?! I'm dying to know!

Susan - It IS fantastic! Hope you enjoy it!

Steph Damore said...

Okay, so Saturday night I was completely out of it :( STILL haven't seen it yet. BUT Dom and I are on vaca over the next two weeks, so we'll definitely see it soon! I can't wait!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Steph. No worries. I'm sure Avatar will be around for a while. I sure hope you like it as much as I do - but even if you don't, it won't change my opinion. No sirree!