The general consensus on James Cameron's new film, Avatar, is that it is a beautiful and groundbreaking film with little to say and certainly nothing new. And, while I completely agree, I have to forgive Cameron's reiteration on two counts. Firstly, Cameron's had this script in his pocket since 1994. Secondly, it's difficult to blame an artist for continuing a message when they don't feel it's been received.
Beautiful, the film is. I did not see it in 3D, which is how the film is meant to be seen. I'm hoping to see it in again in a larger city. The world of Pandora is a remarkable place. The care Cameron put into creating it is obvious. He gave Pandora's humanoid race (the Na'Vi) an entire ecosystem to play in. The Na'Vi are a tribal people whose society and religion is intrinsically linked to the environment in which they live. From hunting prayers to the sacred tree sites where they worship their deity, Eywha, the Na'Vi stand in stark contrast to the American government's concrete and metal base where they flush out their plans to strip the Na'Vi's home planet of it's vital natural resource (comically named unobtainium) in order to save Earth from her imminent death. In case you missed the analogy, Cameron steps it up by putting words like "shock and awe" and "fight terror with terror" in the mouth of the film's villain, Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). The film gives biological credence to the Na'Vi's spirituality (which is at the core of their lifestyle) through Sigourney Weaver's character, Dr. Grace Augustine, a botanist who discovers a measurable energy network between the trees on the planet. Though the film is 60% computer generated, the relationships between the characters, primarily the Na'Vi, feel real and emotionally tangible. The scenes that characters Jake Sully and Neytiri (Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana) share have a depth that has not been reached with 3D animation in the past. In the end, though Cameron's technological innovation may be the star of the show, the plot deserves a spot on the bill.
On a slightly different note, we had an interesting experience just before the film started. When Ian bought the tickets the cashier asked him to indicate on the screen where we'd like to sit, so he pointed to the middle of the theater where there were a lot of seats open. But, she gave us tickets for seats for the very back (which always smells of urine). So, as usual, we sat where we wanted in the theater. A few minutes before the movie started, a group of five or six guys and gals about our age came by and stood in the aisle, staring at us, obviously at a loss since we were in their seats. One guy (the self elected leader of the group) came up to Ian and showed him his ticket. Ian just said "mulayo" (I don't understand). The guy walked back to his group, talked to his group with some agitation for a minute and came back to us. This time he asked to see Ian's ticket, to which Ian replied "mulayo." He asked us again, and we responded the same way. Instead of choosing from the many open seats around us (including the whole row in front of us) the congregated in the aisle and complained about how stupid we (Americans) are. Ironic, since it was their inability to problem solve that added greatly to their frustration. When the previews began, I thought the "leader" was going to lose it. But, we just ignored them and they chose terrible seats in the corner.
We've sat around the apartment all day, so there isn't much else to report. Good night!