I just got back from seeing Avatar, the latest film from James Cameron. I won't call this a review - just a smattering of thoughts - but I'd love to hear what others thought. Let's keep it spoiler free though. Overall, I thought it was a good film, a strong film, but not quite great. It tried real hard, but in the end, the story was lacking enough for me to keep it from being great.
Technologically, the film is perfect. Seriously - this film has set the bar for special effects, and probably will be the film by which others are judged. The Na'vi looked realistic enough for to be 100% believable. You didn't have any of the "Dead on the Inside" type feeling you get from other movies with computer generated characters (I'm looking at you, Polar Express).
The 3D was also well done. You had none of the "in your eye" type shots to remind you of the 3D, and in fact, except for a few scenes, I pretty much forgot that there was any 3D at all. There was one scene with insects though that - I swear - almost made me raise my hand to bat them away. This is how 3D should be done.
So from a special effects angle, the movie gets an A+. Shoot, higher than that. I really think it was perfect in that regards. It's the story that... I don't know. It just didn't rock my world. It wasn't a bad story. Not at all. In fact, when I realized that the movie had lasted over two hours I was truly surprised. The movie never dragged or got boring. Some of the mysticism did get a bit corny at times, but I could live with that. No - what I didn't like was how... simple the story was. It seems like something we've seen many times before. Big bad corporation, evil military forces, face off against a technologically inferior but more spiritually aware native force. It just felt... easy. Too simple. I mean, there was one offhand remark by Jake (the main character) where he mentions that there is no more green on Earth, that it is dead. If the corporation were mining something that Earthlings desperately needed to survive as a race, well, at least we'd have some complexity, some deepness to the story.
I did enjoy the story. Really. And I can see buying it (I bet it will be stellar in Blu-Ray), but I wish that some of the subtlety and innovation that was brought to the special effects had been put to work to the story as well.
Ok, so that's my non-review. One last note. I love ship and vehicle design in Sci-Fi movies. The first shot of the film - the long range ship that beings Jake to Pandora, was incredible. It had a classic 60s feel to the design. Very unique.
Oh, and one last last note. Did folks catch the anti-Bush/anti-Iraq war one-liner in there? Ugh. While I may agree with the politics, it had the subtlety of a brick to the side of that head.