Friday, January 29, 2010

back on earth

I suspect we were the last people in Portland to go and see what all the hoopla was about when we got all dressed up and ready for Avatar in 3D. Considering our natural range of interests I can't say either of us were prepared to be impressed but I have to admit, here and now and right up front, we'd been wrong. It's a very cool experience. I don't even like going to the movies anymore since I hate having to sit still for hours without being able to put a movie on pause while going for ice cream, using the bathroom or just talking to each other about our views up to that point. Nevertheless, we sat enthralled for nearly three hours.

I'm sure you all know the story by now or have experienced for yourselves the fabulous visuals. The ability to actualize on screen an environment and a people who live in complete harmony with their environment is a pretty powerful message to those who aren't inclined to spend time in their imaginations and moreover, have lost whatever connection they may once have had with tribal mythology.

The story itself bore a lot of similarities to a Japanese video game we enjoyed ten years ago, Final Fantasy IX, where a world tree is annihilated by enemies seeking to destroy the innate strength of a society they wish to conquer. It's an ancient theme. The hero of that story, Zidane, is also a kind of avatar since he's a manufactured being sent to infiltrate a society his master wishes to destroy but ends up falling in love with a princess and her people. Strangely enough, he always wore blue and had a prehensile tail. Baba Ganoosh pictured above has no tail but he too is sky-hued.

In this day and age as we're fed hard realities on television and in the news any hints of natural magic and sacredness come as a welcome surprise. Take, for instance, that one of the commercials we were forced to sit through before the film began was this ad for the National Guard. Besides the fact that I'm not a war supporter, the depiction that war is a valiant, heroic effort is just offensive when put into context of the current US foreign policy. That humans were the invading aliens in Avatar made an all too noticeable cognitive dissonance with the message of the commercial that we protect our country by attacking others. Yes, it was like getting hit over the head with a brick but it seems that's what it takes these days.

Meanwhile, I'm still seeing the world in 3D. Do you suppose this is just a natural aftereffect that will dissipate in time?


  1. I really like your review Susan. I enjoyed the film a lot but got jaded a little by the huge action war scenes at the end, which seemed cliche and stupid.

    I'm happier now ... and would surely recommend everyone see it.

  2. We have already planned to see Avatar (tried to go see it last weekend - it was sold out - and we saw Sherlock Holmes, instead). This review makes me even more certain we should see it in theaters. We're not avid movie goers, either - maybe three or four times a year.

    We also saw that ad for the National Guard. I was disturbed and irritated by the length and unrelenting nature of the message.

    As for continuing to see the world in 3D (I liked that) - I realized that I see so much of the world in 2D, as I size everything up as if it were a painting, that 3D might be interesting...

  3. gary - It's true there were no surprises in the plot but maybe the same story does have to be told over and over again until some people finally get it.

    steve - As bad as the National Guard ad was the other one they showed for an upcoming pay-per-view of Bill O'Reilly and Glen Beck - one colored blue and the other red. I mean, really?

    We'll look for the Holmes movie on dvd later in the year. Glad to hear you liked it.

  4. You're right of course! And when is the last movie we saw where the imperialists went home with their tails between their legs and the indigenous people got to live in peace? Hmmmmm... maybe never.

  5. i haven't seen avatar yet.
    i used to go to movies all the time but now that i have tivo, mostly i watch movies before going to sleep.
    i spend too much time in front of the computer; when i go out, i like *doing* things!
    i might have to make an exception for avatar...

  6. gary - There was some fun to be had identifying with the oppressed, wasn't there? I'm going out to meet my dragon now :-)

    sera - At our house it's weekend movies mostly from netflix these days with blue ray as special treats with films of the outdoors (Life on Earth rather than a reissue of MIB). The forest scenes in Avatar alone are worth the price of admission. I think you'd enjoy it.

  7. I haven't seen it but my daughter did and said she enjoyed the 3D effects. She didn't like the story line, however, because she said it was basically "Pocahontas in Space".

  8. nunly - I can see the analogy but even s, it's well enough told and the landscape etc. is amazing.

  9. I haven't seen the movie. I love when they do a cutaway to overseas troops rooting for a particular team. So blindingly accepted, but that's empire for ya. Methinks we'll never see a cutaway to a classroom full of teachers cheering on the Colts or Saints.

  10. randal - You mean to say every day in every way we're not getting better and better?

  11. To answer your last question first, "no."

    I haven't been to a movie in years, but I may need to make an exception for this one.

    Of course, we're in Booneyville here, so 3-D theaters don't exist. Will that make a difference?

  12. cr - Greetings. I have a feeling you're already pretty comfortable seeing the microcosm so, no, you don't have to see it. However, it's definitely worth waiting to see in 3D - even if it means a trip to the city and a suitable recovery time afterwards :-)