|Hellelujah Mountains Image source: Avatar Wikia|
The visuals are *W O W*. Avatar is set in the most audacious place anyone would probably ever want to set a movie in: an alien planet. No, not barren wastes that you see so often in sci-fi flicks, but one as rich and complex and full of life as our own planet. The movie makes even this ambitious setting look more than real.
The action is edge-of-the seat. The chases and fights are long and well-detailed, yet not confusing. Together, the visuals and action kept me hooked for the whole almost-three hours.
Avatar is the most jaw-dropping-est movie of the century that is so unbelievably fantabulous that it's gone beyond just being a movie into an experience of Chuck-Norris-level awesomeness. Okay, now that the customary over-the-top appreciation of Avatar is done, we can move on to my only gripe. A big one, though.
It's a bit of a let down that the movie pretty much depends on its visuals to keep you entertained. As they say, a fantastic Middle Earth doth not an LOTR make. Technology is what gets this movie ashore, and ironically the theme of the movie is: wtf are we doing with all this technology? (Speaking of LOTR, I think it's pretty cool that they invented an actual language just for Avatar.)
It's probably because of that that I could feel sorrow in the scenes where their land is getting destroyed, but when people die or are close to dying, the feeling was more like, "yeah, move on, guys".
No one-liners? None whatsoever? What's happened, James Cameron? True Lies was built on one-liners (maybe they were written by the other co-author?). Even the very-similar-themed The Abyss has its goofy bits. Avatar kind of takes itself too seriously, eh? (Speaking of the lines, early on in the movie, Neytiri says, "This is sad. Very sad only." Isn't this typical of Indian English only?)
The 3D was good fun. A complete absence of eye-poking ice-cream cones, as @iyermatter puts it, is nice. 3D is treated just like an incidental nicety, not something to take advantage of in the movie itself. But I would've liked a bigger screen than the one at Urvashi, and if the picture had been sort of brighter (the glasses make it look rather dark, eh?). How much more awesomer would it be in IMAX 3D (I'd seen Antz at @Bristol, which was pretty cool). The 3D goggles themselves were pretty cool - they apparently have LCD shutters (non-mechanical) in them that is synced with the projectors, so each eye sees only alternate frames. (Source: Jomy and Xpand.) Most importantly, they could fit on top of my own spectacles. :)
Avatar is probably a milestone in SFX technology. Some of my all-time favourite movies have been SFX milestones too: Terminator 2 and The Matrix. They are cult classics because they engage with you in another level beyond just breathtaking visuals. Avatar is not even trying to do anything like that.
It's definitely a fantastic movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe I would have liked it more if I hadn't read the "Oooh!" "Aah!" reviews, but I wouldn't have watched it but for them. Catch-22? Oh, well.
So, watch it, sure. While this is not quite a "rebirth of cinema" that has "transcended stagnant notions of what cinema is", the world that Cameron has brought to life here is just too cool to be missed out on. Maybe, just maybe,
the best sequel ever.