Avatar. It’s big. It’s clever. It has fashionable things to say about indigenous populations and the exploitation thereof. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and took ages. The 3D is state of the art; when the little bits of ash rain down after a fire some of them feel as if they are in the cinema with you. It lasts for two hours and 42 minutes. It has almost nobody famous in it and some of it is real, the rest is a cartoon. I watched it. I was impressed by it. But it left me cold.


19 thoughts on “Wow

  1. I'm not sure what Andrew was expecting it to do for him?I saw it on a great screen and was thoroughly entertained in a way that I rarely am by a big cinema blockbuster. I'd recommend it to anyone that is capable of leaving their cynicism at home for a few hours.

  2. Stephen, I'm not sure that I like your implication that I went in with cynicism. I didn't. I was looking forward to the spectacle and the technical advances and the eco-message, all of which were present and correct, but … and stop me if I've said this before … it left me cold. That was my experience of seeing the film. My assessment is based upon my reaction to the film. I didn't tell anybody not to go and see it. Go and see it; it's worth seeing for all of the above. I was not emotionally moved by it. Was that my failure, or Cameron's?

  3. I haven't seen it yet, and so cannot comment on the quality of the film, but I have already noticed people defending it very… aggressively? As if not liking it is being construed as some kind of wanton contrarianism.There are also lots of cries to 'enjoy it for what it is'. Rather than enjoying it for being an avant-garde Russian documentary, I suppose.

  4. I chose to see it in 2D rather than 3D as I've always found 3D gimmicks/touches to be a distraction in a film. In 2D it was immersive and quite a spectacle, I loved it.

  5. I initially went to see Avatar because I hadn't experienced the new generation of 3-D filming yet. I enjoyed the effects, the storyline felt a little flat and obvious. I left wondering when it had been decided that it would filmed in 3-D and couldn't help feeling that effects are a little forced. I still can't see much advance in the movement of CGI, it doesn't look that realistic which is sort of the point of 3-D. I now wish I had gone to see Up instead – looks like a genuinely good story which happens to have been filmed in 3-D.

  6. Andrew I totally agree. I enjoyed it, I think it looked great but it, as you said, left me cold. I think it was because nothing surprised me about it. The plot follows such a well trodden path that I found myself watching it as if I had seen it before, a bit like when I went to watch Star Wars when it was re-released… but without the exciting nostalgia. Having said that I still think it was a good film that I will perhaps grow to like more over time. I think it shows how well 3D can be used to add to a film without constantly trying to poke you in the eye and also shows how far CG performances have come… they were really quite good.

  7. I agree with you Andrew. I thought it was often spectacular – occasionally beautiful. And I really didn't care about the characters- so I too was left cold. I found myself appreciating the skill in a detached manner. I wanted to care but sadly couldn't.

  8. I enjoyed it – and would recommend seeing it at the IMax (well trippy, maaan), but as the modern day equivalent of the early cinema clip "The Arrival of the Mail Train" – a novelty, demonstrating the state-of-the-art. A bit like a new theme-park rollercoaster ride – great fun while you're on it, but immediately forgotten.I imagine an "extra dimesnion" that makes it essential to see a film at the cinema, and useless on illegal download, is something of a holy grail for producers of blockbusters now – but it's only to shooty-blasty films that it may become "game changing". I doubt the makers of "Fish Tank" feel downhearted that they didn't have the budget for this process.- Mike F-C

  9. Well put me squarely in the 3 out of 5 camp. It's great while it lasts, but it had no long-term impact on me at all.I think the main reason that it works while you are watching it is because the "story" (such as it is) has to be ludicrously blunt and obvious as otherwise you would be distracted from the shock-and-awe of the effects work. (For instance, 2012 didn't work for me because it made the mistake of letting you think about the story for long enough to realise quite how in(s)ane it is.)But my biggest bugbear is the endless hype about how this "changes the face of cinema". It doesn't. It's not even Arrival of the Mail Train as Mike suggests.) Every single thing in it has been done before (and arguably better), from the fake but immersive world (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, anyone?), the motion-captured actors (Gollum – and even Jar Jar Binks…), even the 3D is only mostly successful (there are whole sequences where it is the only reason for them; compare this to, say, Coraline, where the 3D is merely backgrounded and thus works better.)Sure it's a fantastic spectacle, and Cameron continues to prove that he really can't make a truly bad film. But yes, Andrew, it left me cold too. Quite honestly, the first fifteen minutes of Up provided more of an emotional punch than anything here, and that at least had the good grace not to pretend it was anything other than a cartoon.The only thing I can really compliment it on is the fact that it absolutely has to be seen in a cinema (joining quite a short list of films – 2001, Master & Commander, The Last Emperor etc.) that simply will not work on the "small screen" (and I don't care how big your small screen is!) But not for the 3D, just for the scale.– David

  10. They put loads of blue humanoids on the screen for (I'm guessing) more than 90 minutes. They're kind of inviting "it left me cold" comments, aren't they?I daresay the skin colour and very green locations were chosen because – hey – you wouldn't do this with the old-style 3D. But they look twatty and the trailers look shit. If I went to see films, I wouldn't go to watch this if you paid me.There, now I'm ready to be pleasantly surprised. But I'm still not going to go and see it. And I can't see how it's going to work with any colour-based 3D glasses at home.

  11. I went to see it this afternoon with my daughter and found myself almost instincivly wanting to reach out for some of the 3D effects. The story was pretty much what I expected. A typical White/European guilt fest (weren't we horrible to Native Americans/Mayans/Australian aboriginies*I've written my own review here, which contains more spoilers than Andrew's. Though not too many I hope.*Delete as aplicable

  12. I saw it yesterday in 3d imax, and enjoyed it for what it was, a cinema experience that I could not get at home. It was enjoyable to me at a true entertainment level, yes the story is standard fair and kind of obvious, but most people in there seem to see it for the entertainment rather than as a political statement on mankinds treatment of indigenous peoples.Steve M.

  13. It's strange because I don't think I've ever seen a more spectacular movie ever, and yet I left the cinema not nearly as impressed as I wanted to be. The visuals may be in 3D but the story and dialogue is one dimension, all the way down.The film's plot bears an uncanny resemblance to Dances With Wolves, a film I detest with a passion? Ostensibly about showing how terrible we (white Westerners) are, it allows the viewer to cop out by letting them identify with the oppressed, convincing us that we'd be the tiny minority who spoke out against the genocide and pillaging. At least this story has the protagonist getting it on with a native, whereas Dances With Wolves wouldn't take the risk of alienating it's mainly white audience by having a mixed race romance. (maybe I just take this shit way too seriously)

  14. I saw an advert for this film on the telly, and the clip featured a blue person saying "outstanding" in that Top Gun / 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning' American forces kind of voice. It put me right off, I can tell you.

  15. My two pence onto the copper change mountain that is the Avatar release…..No matter how many mixed reviews I read or fancy trailers I saw I knew I wouldn't really know what to expect from Avatar until I just sat down in the cinema and watched it. I approached the film with a cynical eye and felt myself attempting to make mental notes about what might be going wrong as I went….. but after a certain point I, like central character Jake Sully, found myself being drawn into the physical, spiritual and emotional battle that is at the heart of the film.I stopped judging it and started feeling it.Many comparisons to similarly themed movies made by other viewers of the film seem to have left out the work of Hayao Miyazaki and, if you needed to see where Avatar's inspiration really lay, then I heartily recommend the films Nausica√§, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke. Avatar is about the fight to protect nature, not just a humanoid alien race…. it's about respecting and not taking for granted the planet around us that keeps us alive. Yes Avatar has special effects and explosions and cool space ships, but to focus on those points in order to describe the film would de-value what is really on show here. Avatar is a success on every level and is a triumph in every department. It is also one of the rare occasions (along with the Lord Of The Rings trilogy) where an extended version wouldn't go amiss…. you just want more and more and never want it to end. Basically, don't listen to the nay-sayers and nit-pickers, just go and have the most exhillerating and enjoyable cinematic experience in recent memory.PSI chose to see the 2D version as my eyesight isn't good with 3D glasses…. so I can't really comment on that side of the experience, soz.

  16. Thanks for your long and considered review, Charlotte, although in my defence, I didn't tell anybody not to go and see it. Indeed, if you're interested in the cinema, I think you should go and see it; find out what's going on in technology. I can only report my personal feelings, which were to be unmoved. I get the message of the film – which, as you correctly point out, is about respecting the planet and not taking it for granted – but feel that this message was unsubtly conveyed, that's all. Just my opinion. I'm glad you enjoyed it on every level. I wish I had done.

  17. I think repeat views will definately improve the experience as the pressure of being sat there in front of a film with so much hype and expectation (generated largely by myself, I must admit) was quite distracting. I wrote my above review straight after I got back from seeing it, so it's a bit emotional, lol. I think I just got confused at a lot of the negativity some reviews were throwing at it (not nessessarily yours) and I just couldn't see what the problem was.I felt quite guilty when I tried enjoying the action as it's all so emotionally linked to the destruction of innocent life that it would have been almost voyeristic to enjoy. I think that was a brave step to make by Cameron…. not to romantisise death and destruction (too much). It was difficult to watch sometimes.I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

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