My buddy Trent told me that even though I wouldnít be able to see the gimmick, Iíd still see a vivid and beautiful film. He was right. Other than the screen seeming a tad dark, I had no trouble wearing the Real-D glasses and enjoying the flick.
I didnít mind/hate on the story: it was a simple tale about choosing the environment over monetary gain, about choosing love and community over technology and force. It was, basically, Dances with Wolves in space. And thatís not a bad thing, but the story isnít the reason youíll love this film, youíll love it because it thrusts you into a brand new world. The film presents you with a new planet, a new place with depth and weight. As a matter of fact, it I can find a small failing with the film it is that they didnít just make a nature film about this awesome new world. Iíd watch that flick in a second.
Here is what it was about, though, and I canít really give anything away because the story goes exactly where itís supposed to and where you expect it to...
Jake Sullivan is a Marine who has lost the use of his legs. His twin brother has been killed while training to run an Avatar, a sort of clone that can be driven around the Planet of Pandora. There is a strange element called (get this) Unobtainium...sigh...that a big mining company wants, so theyíre using the Avatars to try to integrate themselves into the alien society and get permission to dig for the magic rock.
The company is losing its patience, though, and are just itching to light the locals up with some sweet Space-Marine-backed fire power. So Jake is offered a deal: pilot the Avatar and gain the peopleís trust and the company will give him his legs back.
Jake agrees and is quickly accepted into the tribe with all of the hour-long training sequences and alien banging that this entails. Of course, he begins to care for the alien folk, and the company canít have this, so POW! Mechs and bombs!
Everything wraps up the way you expect. The flick was long, but it was good, and I will indeed own it on Blu Ray so I can hop around to the parts with bombs. Honestly, I donít see myself watching the entire thing again.
Here are a few things I didnít understand about the film, though. I will not for a minute cast any doubt upon Mr. Cameron because heís worked for 15 years on this thing and it shows. This movie is what Chinese democracy was SUPPOSED to beóa labor of love that changes the game.
Still, tough, there were a few things about the overall ďimmersive experienceĒ that I didnít get.
First of all, once the lights went down and the film began, there was a person sitting directly in front of me that would, every 10 minutes or so, send a text with his very bright iPhone.
At first, I assumed that this person was an inconsiderate Richard Douche, but it occurred to me that this was all part of King Cameronís plan. Just as in the movie, where technology surrounded all of the evil people of the corporation, he hired a person to sit in front of me to play with his G-Damn phone to show that technology is everywhere. Pretty slick, James Cameron. There is a reason they call you the master of kung fu or the godfather of soul or whatever they call you. I donít know...I hate labels, man.
Also, to further pull me into the world of Avatar, Cameron made sure that some people would sit directly next to me with their jabbering toddler. For a full three hours, their baby made noise and they made no attempt to leave or shut it up or shut it up then leave. I mean, they shushed it constantly, but I suspect this was all part of the plan as well...we all know how successful shushing a toddler is, right?
And since this happens to me so much, being forced to sit next to goofy people and their loud babies during movies, I assumed that once again my curse was in effect. But I realized that Cameron had planned this to show me that in space there will be no escape from the type of people that will bring a toddler to a three-hour long epic. He was saying, ďPaid $12.75? So what!? Hearing and enjoying a movie is a privilege, not a right! Suck it up and listen to this baby during the quiet parts of the film. It will make you really appreciate the loud parts that much more!Ē
Well, James Cameron was right. Hearing the child babble during the quiet parts of the film kept me waiting at the edge of my seat for the loud parts of the film. Then, Iíd get a blast of light from some dude texting his boyfriend about taking a casserole out of the oven. And you know what? I bet that was a euphemism for forceful man-on-man action.
So, to recap: I loved the experience. It was so new to me that I thought I was going to hate it at first. You may feel the same way, but once you realize that the dick with the IPhone and the family that is oblivious to itís own loud baby are all part of the cinema experience, you can relax and enjoy the film. I mean, people wouldnít just act this way if it wasnít planned, would they? I mean, why would they actually pay that much money just to ruin the film for everyone? That would be stupid!
(I attended the 8 p.m. showing on Christmas night at the Carmike Summit 16. If you have some insight into this experience, let me know...But I choose to believe that it was all on purpose.)
Stories by Jímel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.