“Dude, I ain’t watching DANCES WITH THE SMURFS 3D!”
That was the reaction of a co-worker when I told him that James Cameron‘s AVATAR blew me away. He’s got a point there, while completely missing the point of the movie. AVATAR has a by the numbers / cookie cutter story similar to the New World or Dances with the wolves. But I think that is by design. The real star of the movie is the graphics — mindblowing graphics. Yet it could have become a soulless/senseless paen to imagery a la CITY OF LOST CHILDREN or MIRRORMASK, but AVATAR as a story has heart — lots of it. The cliches and tropes are salvaged by the smooth and seamless integration of the gorgeously imagined and rendered Alien landscapes (which are IMPORTANT and RELEVANT to the story/plot). It is realistic without crashing down into Uncanny Valley and balances the realism of simulation with appropriate does of suspension of disbelief and in some cases even sensory stimuli.
FUTURE IS WILD is an extrapolation of evolution on planet earth millions of years into the future and ALIEN PLANET is the imagined story of the first unmanned mission traversing space in search of extraterrestrial life (and finding it). Both were made with budgets that probably would not even render half a dozen giant mushrooms in the world of PANDORA. But they share a bond with Cameron’s AVATAR in being utterly imaginative about what alien flora and fauna (and even terrestrial ones in the future) may look like. While AVATAR has the luxury of dramatic hyperbole and poetic license, it uses them to build a vibrant vista rather than squander it on meaningless visual non sequitors.
To those few who are still debating whether or not to see AVATAR, my advice would be to go see it immediately (preferably in IMAX/3D). This might be something that’ll help you score some coolness cred with your grandchild when (s)he’s twiddling away on a full 3D holographic handheld with full haptic / synaptic interface powered by the latest Quantum computing chip.
“Y’know back in my day, we did it all with Mo-Cap and 280 mil dollars!”
Yup, it’s that kind of a landmark in motion picture history.
AVATAR HD Extended Trailer
FUTURE IS WILD