Saturday, January 30, 2010

Avatar - not for sissies!

So, I joined the throngs going to see the biggest movie of all time last night. The movie house was full to the brim. And we got handed our sunglasses at the door. And everyone was all chatty chatty before it started.

I noticed that the sound, in the forthcoming attraction bit, seemed to be particularly loud and I was grateful for the semi-deafness in my left ear. My friend and I (definitely forming the older bracket in the audience, by some years) looked disapprovingly at each other in an exchange of meaningful glances. Then I yelled into her ear, above the racket “Why the hell is it so loud?” She couldn’t hear me. But no-one else seemed to mind.

Then the instruction to put on the glasses. A frisson of amazement went through the audience – or at least those of us who had never seen 3D (which is now followed, I noted by a TM) before. A ball shot towards us and stopped at what appeared a couple of metres from my nose and then zoomed back again. The sub-titles were suspended magically in the middle of nowhere. It was another dimension and I realised I had made the kind of transition that one made years back between black and white television, and colour. It is just another world.

Now the story, in case you don’t know it, is about this ex marine bloke called Jake, with gammy legs and in a wheelchair, who is drafted into some kind of detail on a planet called Pandora. The Americans (just because no other people on the whole planet could possibly have the kind of technology in the future which would enable them to have colonised another planet) are looking for some rock called “Unobtainium”, which just happens to be under a sacred space of the (“aliens”, I think they call them in the film) original inhabitants of the planet. These “aliens” are blue, large and basically human in proportion. But they are a peaceful lot. Soft choral “Ah-ah-ah” type music plays when they are around. They sit around trees and have religious ceremonies to become one with their ancestors and the trees. They have made friends with the local flying dinosaurs and ride around on their backs.

The Americans, per contra, fly around in metal machines that make one hell of a noise, drink coffee and smirk at the mention of the “monkeys” or “kitty cats” or “savages” that live in trees – which may stand in their way of getting the Unobtainium.

Jake is able to enter the body of a Na’vi (the name of the beings which live on Pandora). It is a body with legs (which he doesn’t have, but which he is promised, if he infiltrates the Na’vi world and brings back intelligence about how the Americans can get them to move from the area they are living in).

So, he enters his Na’vi body and finds acceptance in the Na’vi world by doing a whole lot of rituals and coming of age things. It is a “noble savage” experience. They are wonderful beings, integrated with nature, innocent and beautiful. But fairly stupid (or perhaps, under-developed), so they need the help of the white (American) man, Jake to help them. Jake, predictably, falls in love with a Na’vi women and he eventually leads a rebellion against the horrible Americans, whose folly he sees quite early on in the movie.

There is crashing and banging. It is an exhausting movie to watch, because the tension is extremely high, the noise level unbelievable and the 3D effects astonishing.

But is it memorable? Does it make one think? Does it challenge one’s views? Do I even remotely want to see it again? The answer to all of these is a resounding no! Did I enjoy it as an experience? Yes I certainly did!

And now, I understand that there is a thing called Avatar porn, which is about to be released by Hustler. I can't quite get my head around it all.

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