Avatar

Originally written on 12-20-2009

By now, you’ve no doubt heard so much about how incredible Avatar is that, even if you were considering it, you might now be having second thoughts about seeing it. I’m here to tell you not to be dissuaded. You may be at the point where you think that this movie couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. I went into to Avatar with very high expectations, and they were not only met. They were exceeded.

Here’s what happened. I didn’t know very much about this movie. I’d heard good things about it. I’d heard that their was a lot of buzz. Which is actually usually cause for me to disregard it. At least initially. I love to go to the movies. But I like to appreciate movies on their own merit, not because everyone is going nuts over it due to heavy promotion. I probably WAS NOT going to see this movie. I’d seen a couple of trailers, but nothing that got me excited. Then I saw this.

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi895222297/

That got my attention. One line spoken in the entire trailer. Incredible visuals. Music that builds perfectly from calm to intense. Add that to a pretty interesting plot, I was now probably going to see this movie. If I could scrape together the cash and the opportunity. Then I got a few bucks for Christmas, I had Friday off and AMC theaters have $5 admission for movie showtimes before noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So I went. My showtime was 9:50 AM opening day. There were about twenty other people there when the lights went down. For the next 2 and a half hours, I was glued to the screen. When it was done, I was speechless.

Don’t worry, I won’t give any spoilers. There are plenty of places that you can find those. Though I’d advise against it. The story was great and so was the cast. Perfect. That alone would have been enough. But this was a computer animation movie. This usually inspires some eye-rolling if it’s a film trying to be taken seriously at all or going for realism. And rightfully so. Though I enjoy Pixar and Dreamworks, this isn’t anything like that. This is way further down the road. This is new ground in computer animated films.

Lots of people would give you lots of different problems they’ve seen with recent attempts for realism in computer animated films. The two that always jump out at me are facial expressions / mannerisms and the eyes. Facial expressions and general subtle mannerisms tend to lack a lot realism. The eyes also tend to look kind of dead. They’re usually glassy, too dark and just missing realistic movement. Polar Express is a good example of a great effort for it’s time creating computer animated humans, but it still had the same problems in these areas.

Now, obviously, this film did not create realistic computer animated humans. Or any computer animated humans for that matter. But with the new technology innovated for this film, I believe they could. The natives of the alien world in this film appear completely real in a way that has not been achieved to date with animation or creature effects. The filmmakers, in addition to using a brand new type of camera to shoot the film, also came up with a rig that would read the expressions and mannerisms of the actors as they played out their scene. This translated into, from what I could see, completely accurate facial expressions and mannerisms transferred from actor to computerized character. In addition, the eyes are finally ALIVE! Mind you they’re not human eyes, but it’s there. When you watch these characters you get the feeling of watching a real person, not a cartoon or animation. You eventually lose yourself in it.

Between the beautiful landscapes and characters, the wonderful story and the new advancements that tie it all together, this is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. If I can help it, I WILL be seeing it again and purchasing it on DVD.

Rating: 5 Stars

And so it begins…

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