Friday, December 18, 2009


Avatar is all too much - in that good kind of way.

I type this less than half an hour after staggering out of the theater and am still attempting to collect my thoughts Is James Cameron's latest the revolution in cinema some claim it will be? Is it even the best film of this year?

At this early stage, I cannot give an honest answer. I'm still absorbing and processing it - but the fact that I'm still doing that now is telling. What I can say without hesitation  is that Avatar is THE most incredible  sensory experience I have ever had, in a theater or anywhere else. Anyone with even a passing interest in movies owes it to themselves to experience the visual wonders of this film. Avatar is a must-see - with the emphasis on the word SEE.

The visual effects and the use of 3D are simply dazzling. The movie washed over me. It happened to me. I completely forgot where I was, and even now, as I write this, issues that had been troubling me seem not to matter. That's how affecting it was.

And it's not just the new techniques that work. Some of the old ones do too.With this film, Cameron reaffirms his status as the preeminent action director of all time. The climaxes of Cameron's movie escalate higher and higher and higher, but never at the expense of character or comprehension. And he's done it again with Avatar, the climax of which is breathtaking.

Some say that spectacle trumps narrative, and that's a valid point. The movie is almost too otherworldly for its own good. So much imagination has gone into creating the visuals that they sometimes overwhelm the characters. The romance in particular, usally one of Cameron's strong suits, feels rather pallid this time around.

That conceded, Avatar absolutely does NOT deserve some of the narrow-minded scorn that has come its way, such as those  glib Smurf and Ferngully references. Once people see Avatar, those concerns will fly away like an alien sucked into a vacuum.

Although the narrative isn't as strong as it could be, I would argue that the way this story is being told is just as important as what it's telling us. Cameron's 3D process so enveloped me, I felt much like some of the characters in the film - as if  I had an out-of-body experience. To say Avatar is transcendent is not hyperbole to me.

Avatar has been and will be compared to many films, but I'll throw out one title that not many people have mentioned: Schindler's List.

When I first saw that Steven Spielberg film, it so overpowered me, I couldn't take it all in at first. Avatar is much the same way. One viewing is simply not enough to appreciate all this movie has to offer. Maybe Avatar isn't the best movie of the year, but I can say with confidence it's the most sensational film of the year.


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