Saturday, December 19, 2009
Just got back from AVATAR at Universal Studios Hollywood and I must say you need to see this movie in IMAX 3-D, it's mind boggling. I truly felt immersed in the world James Cameron has created thanks to his ability to mix performance capture technology, CG, and live action to perfection. Combine all that with 3D imagery on an almost 8 stories high screen and you have a movie watching experience unlike anything we've ever seen. The screenplay does borrow a lot from previous stories and films such as Dances with Wolves, Aliens, and even a bit of Star Trek: Insurrection, and some of the characters would've benefited from a little more back story and development, but we have never seen this type of story told on such an epic scale. Let's face it James Cameron is not the greatest screenwriter in the world, but he is a damn good director -- he can keep things visually exciting, kinetic, and compelling without loosing track of the story he's trying to tell. It was also very satisfying to get a brand new score from one of my all time favorite film composers: James Horner -- who's been responsible for such classic scores as Aliens, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Willow, and many more. And I'm happy to report there is no Celine Dion song in this one.
Cameron has put together a really solid cast for Avatar. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana deliver some great performances even with all the limitations of acting in a motion capture rig. I was also very happy to see Sigourney Weaver in a James Cameron film once again and her role is pretty significant. Early word on the film made it seem like her part was close to that of a cameo, but that is not the case at all. She plays a key role in the film and has a lot of screen time both playing her human character -- Dr. Grace Augustine, and her Na-vi Avatar. Seeing this made me crave a Weaver / Cameron Aliens reunion more than ever. She's still great and I for one hope to see more of her in big event movies like this one in the near future.
I think we have some very exciting years of movie watching coming up if this motion capture technology continues to be employed and pushed further by the right filmmakers. There's a lot of cool Avatar toys out there as well as a great book called The Art of Avatar detailing the design process for the film. I have ordered some of these items but have not received them yet. I'll chime in again with reviews for those once I receive them.