Thursday, 7 January 2010

Kind of Blue

Last night I popped down to the ODEON to see AVATAR. It was completely packed, so my friend and I had to sit right in the corner in the front row. That made the whole 3D experience a little strange.

The film itself is deeply flawed, and better critics have pointed those flaws out elsewhere. What was surprising was the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the crowd, which including spontaneous applause, laughter and sighs and awwws.

Whatever the faults in narrative,(there are plenty) script,(loads) and design(huge problems), somehow this film has tapped into audiences in a real way, beyond what any studio publicity could manafacture. The figures, weeks after release, are a testament to it. I personally think that there is visible excitement about what is clearly an effort from Cameron , and the industry as a whole, to present something that they can't get at home, something different from both your average blockbuster and obviously your average 3D film. Cameron is nothing if not ambitious, and there is a recognition in the audience of that ambition and a desire to witness its execution.

And here is my co-host on the podcast Robert Beames with a typically pitch-perfect review:

There are two ways to treat Avatar as a reviewer and one is probably unfair but difficult to avoid. Avatar is, when looked at objectively, a good blockbuster movie with amazing effects and boasting the most advanced motion capture you have ever seen. It isn’t a “film”, but a “movie” in the true sense of the word. It’s the sort of movie where you get to see a cigar-chomping Sarge-figure strap himself into a mech and fall thousands of feet through the air and land perfectly, gun cocked, as the world explodes in the background bathing him in fire. Amidst the explosions and chases are two dimensional characters spouting cheesy one liners (anyone of which could easily belong in Cameron’s Terminator or Aliens films) and a plot taken directly out of Fern Gulley or Pocahontas. Yet Avatar is as satisfying and enjoyable as anything James Cameron has made. However, it is hard to remain objective about a film heralded by so many as epoch-making. A film which we are told has been in the making for over a decade and which has become the most expensive ever produced. Unfortunately Avatar is simply a polished and highly enjoyable version of what we have seen many times before. Yes, the motion capture is breathtakingly good and the 3D the best yet seen, but it won’t be for my generation what Star Wars was to people in 1977. It is difficult not to view Avatar through a prism of so many outlandish statements about its importance to the art of cinema, and in doing so it is difficult not to come away feeling a little underwhelmed.


  1. "Kind of Blue" Sums it up perfectly! Best review of Avatar I've seen, so far... Up there with "Loved Ben - hated Hur."

  2. I couldn't have said it better myself. As a film Avatar did nothing for me, but as an experience I'd recommend it to anyone. It is a theme park ride, it took me back to my childhood and Disney Land, Los Angeles and the 3D Michael Jackson ride! Still, best film at the Oscars? I bloody hope not! Unless there are rewards to be had for rehashing films you've already made inside one giant special effects laden juggernaut!