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I had only seen Avatar in the 2D Home cinema version (albeit HD), so I was pleasantly surprised that it made a final appearance at a 3D cinema near me – not the extended version, I think, but just the final run of the original film.

When I watched for the first time, I had to do in two sessions – not because it was too boring, but in retrospect I kept wondering whether it would have been had I watched it in one go. Mr Cameron is susceptible to unnecessary length. In Titanic, the first 90 minutes were more or less irrelevant once the boat started leaking – in Avatar it is less easy to depict: yes, the first bulldozing of some white tentacle tree could be cut out without doing any harm, but it would still be a very long film. I think I cannot really come up with suggestions on how to tighten the plot, which means that maybe my sometimes slightly bored reaction is not due to the script not being tight but the plot just not being very interesting.

It is now public property to make jokes of the Dancing with Smurfahontas plot line and the overall emptiness of the drama. It’s kind of true, nothing unexpected happens beyond what you think will happen after all the characters have been introduced, so that the film frequently falls back on its optical values.

And here, of course, it scores: There are breathtaking landscape designs, steel cold interiors that have nice depth effect when shown in 3D. There are nice creatures and critters (my favourite is the odd parachute-chamaeleon that seems to strangulate itself when jumping up and extending its rotating chute), good mass scenes with  ecstatically dancing “blue monkeys” (the females of which always somehow manage  to hide their nipples behind a little woodwork bikini).

The villains are nice, and the sidekicks either sexy (Zoe something) or surprisingly successful (Max the Scientist has not played in many movies, but having Avatar and Inception on your CV ain’t so bad…).

An overall entertaining experience, with frequently recurring periods of bum-ache. In an r-rated version, I would have loved to hear the swearing that very obviously would have suited Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) better than his half-domesticated bad-assing.

Avatar (2009).

Best Picture Project

Rotten Tomatoes

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4 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen the 3D version and I also didn’t see the film on the big screen. But I was impressed with it. The fact I enjoyed it so much on the ‘little’ screen in 2D says a lot for James Cameron’s ability to create great special-effect-heavy sci-fi entertainment. I thought it was a enjoyable, well-made and well-structured story. To make us care about blue aliens is a tough thing to do, but he managed it.

  2. I was not as thrilled as you, but agree in principle, that it kept me entertained over an excessive period of time. Would have been even more entertaining for a shorter period, though… I think he chose wisely to have the Blue Ones not interact too much with the humans, as these were the moments where despite all CGI wizardry it all still looked a bit “Mary Poppins”.

  3. Also, I think the holding back on too much human/Navi face-to-face was to preserve the effect of the end, where (both when she saves his life with the air mask and when the humans are being escorted off the planet) you are suddenly reminded of the size disparity between the races. If you’d been reminded of it every five minutes, that would have had less effect.

  4. true, one never got used to that, I remember being reminded occasionally that the Blue Ones were REALLY BIG Blue Ones, primarily introduced when the main character runs off from the hospital to feel some legs again after a long time in a paralysed body. I liked it then, and would have liked some more together-ness all through the film, but my own perception was that there are reasons (and I supposed technical ones) why Cameron keeps them apart whenever he could.


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