I saw Avatar in 3D IMAX and you didn’t…be jealous

22Dec09

I heard about the existence of Avatar sometime during the last half of my senior year of high school. At least I think that I did. Man, after four years of college, it just feels like all of high school is blurring together. I’m pretty sure that when that friend told me about the existence of this movie (which was still in pre-production at the time), they said things along the lines of 100% CGI, sci-fi epic, and mind shall be blown. Well, at least the latter two are correct.

I was trying to avoid as much early information about the movie as possible. I mean I saw the initial trailer on the Apple movie page, but that was about it. But I guess when a studio spends an estimated 150 million dollars on marketing, that makes a potential 500 million spread through word of mouth. It could be because I’m a film major and, yes, the rumors are true, film majors talk about movies a lot. I’ve never been one to get hyped up over a huge studio production, so usually the words, “most expensive movie ever” are a buzz kill. I’ve never liked the idea of blockbusters, because usually the narrative gets as busted as the block. All said though, I thought that this would be worth seeing because A) I knew that there was an IMAX theatre nearby my home in Bronxville in New Rochelle and had always wanted to see a commercial movie this way and B) I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to drop acid (with out, you know, actually ingested any drugs).

That said, I really enjoyed Avatar. And while the plot is pretty unimpressive, think Ferngully meets Dances with Wolves, that does not by any means mean the story is weak. Thanks to the beautiful cinematography, wonderful visual effects, and amazing attention to detail, the film feels like it’s jumping off the screen, but then your 3D glasses fall off your face and everything is blurry until you finish scrambling to get them back on to enjoy the next trick of cinema.

The film follows the exploits of Jake Sully, a marine who is now paralyzed below the waist, who replaces his recently deceased scientist twin brother in a project on the newly discovered world of Pandora. This moon of a gas giant has a vast supply of a rare natural resource needed to maintain human civilization (humorously named unobtainium, not even kidding). However the native race, the Na’vi, aren’t letting humanity anywhere near the resource. Not much of a problem, except for the fact that the Na’vi are nine foot tall, extremely durable, blue Tiger people with a penchant for using poison arrows. Human scientists on Pandora have figured out how to combine human DNA with Na’vi DNA, then have the a human subject take control of a specific Na’vi clone while in sitting in more or less the Animus from Assassin’s Creed.

Long story short, after a hiccup on a botany expedition, Jake in Avatar form gets stuck in the jungle over night and has to take shelter with the Na’vi, who instantly recognize him as “one of the sky people’s dream-walkers”. Jake is able to win them over by telling them that he is a warrior from the human tribe who has come to learn the ways of the Na’vi. The Na’vi, while hesitant, decide that since they’ve never met a dream-walker claiming to be a warrior before, that they will not kill him. Back at base, the higher ups are quite impressed. They give Jake three months to learn the Na’vi’s culture, so that way he can convince them to move out of their home tree, which is sitting on a mother lode of unobtainum. Suffice to say this doesn’t quite work out, as Jake becomes enamored with the Na’vi culture, traditions, and the daughter of the chief.

What’s truly amazing about the movie is how quickly one as an audience member is able to give up on humanity. During the later movie battle scenes, you are rooting for the tiger people to kill every last wasteful sky-person. I have never seen a movie where I’ve wanted every single human on screen to die, other then How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. What really broke me up about the movie was that after leaving the theatre, seeing an environmental parable almost three hours, that most of the audience just threw out their 3D glasses. C’mon! These can be used again, you twerps! Ridiculous! It made me just want to hop in an Animus and shoot some poison arrows into all of the sky people.

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