Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I saw this film last Saturday in 3D. It wasn't a made-for-3D film in the sense that many parts are deliberately filmed for the 3D effect (like parts of the recent Journey to the Center of the Earth, which was very clearly made with 3D in mind so things would appear to come at you throughout the film), but more to give depth and realism to this world. And this kind of 3D is not the motion-sick-inducing kind, which helped a lot.

Let me start with something simple: music. At one point, I remember noting it was good, but I can't even think of it now. It didn't detract from the film, but it really took a back seat to what was going on visually.

I remember reading a random forum post where someone said the film looked good but it had no plot. I'd have to ask what film he was watching. Before I get into that, let's talk a little etymology. The word avatar is from Sanskrit. It was originally used in Hinduism to describe a vessel - usually a body of some sort - in which a deity incarnates. The most common use of this word (in my experience) is in video games, specifically rpgs, where the character that you create and control in the game world is your avatar. My first thought was that he-who-thinks-there-was-no-plot must not be a gamer.

The namesake of the film was a genetically engineered body that resembled a native and dominating species of the life-supporting moon that is the setting for the film. Human characters interfaced with their personal avatars through a claustrophobic MRI type of device. One of the main themes was the conflict of the main character, a disabled Marine, who already felt alienated among humans and finds himself torn between following orders and a growing love for the moon and all the living things he came to know through his avatar.

The other part of the story, the main plot, if you will, is reminiscent of European colonization of the Americas (among other similar incidents) where humans want what the natives have and will take it if they don't give it up. My parents and I read a review in the Washington Post where someone compared the film to a completely different period in human history. In my opinion, this guy failed to draw the most logical parallels and was entirely incorrect in his assessment of it. But, that's really beside the point.

In line outside the theater, I was talking to a lady who mentioned that she was a little worried about bringing her two little girls into a PG-13 film. She read that what made it PG-13 wasn't that bad in the grand scheme of things and hoped they'd be too distracted by everything else to really notice. I don't know how that worked out for her or her little ones, but I can say the film was a visual feast. The lush setting was filled with bioluminescent plants, great beasts of land and sky, and if you've seen the commercials, you've already seen the floating mountains. Really, I can't say enough about what this film was in terms of appearance. Perhaps the highest praise I can convey is that I want them to make an RPG out of this world, so I can go in and explore it on my own. (That being said, what I have read about the video game version leaves much to be desired, but that's something else altogether.)

If you haven't yet, go see this film. Even if the story seems uninteresting, even if the actors are not your favorites, even if 3D makes you sick as it does me, go see this film. It is worth it to experience that fabulous world even if nothing else is appealing to you. And don't forget to blink.


Anonymous said...

maybe i'll try it in 3d afterall


Fyrecreek said...

You know how motion sick I get. This wasn't anything like other 3D films. The glasses were not the red and blue lenses, but clear and didn't distort your vision when you looked at other things in the slightest. Without the glasses, the film looked fuzzy, like when I used to need glasses but didn't wear them.

I think you'll be too busy watching what's going on to notice if the 3D makes you queasy. You will definitely be too busy watching to remember to blink, I'm not kidding when I say you'll need to remind yourself to do that!

Fyrecreek said...

P.S. Be sure you make a visit to the restroom before you go in. There really is no 'break' if you need to get up.