Wednesday, January 13, 2010

View From the Phlipside - Avatar

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Well I went and saw the movie. I tried to be as open minded about it as possible and I must admit that some of it was better, even much better than I expected. That's right I saw Avatar and I saw it in 3D.

So where to begin? With the movie or with the effects? Let's deal with the effects first because it was the part I had the greatest reservations about. Color me impressed with the "Real D" three dimensional effects. The glasses sat comfortably on my nose in front of my regular glasses, I really stopped noticing them fairly quickly. They don't do any of the cheesy "3-D" silliness in Avatar, you know the spear flying out of the screen right at your face, stuff. It was very impressive. So I would certainly be willing to give the process another chance in another movie.

Now about the movie itself. It's a science fiction action adventure film. I want to get that out there right up front so we can be fair. This isn't Shakespeare or Bergman or even Woody Allen. So let's keep the standards reasonable for what to expect from the movie. Having said that the plot was pretty simple and predictable. It didn't have to be, there are always ways to keep the storyline interesting. But I'd say the plot was the minimum needed to keep the story going. So give it a passing grade of C. Not doing quite as well was the dialogue, which struck me as trite, boring and utterly uninspiring. There were one or two lines late in the movie that struck me as almost exciting but I can't quote one of them to you right now. When I walked out of Star Wars the first time I could do a half dozen or more. So dialogue gets a D.

Characterization was the real loser here. We're talking cardboard cutouts. We're talking stereotypes, shallow, one dimensional. And the worst part is there was some real room for character. Giovanni Ribisi's character had the chance to work on some real internal conflict, as could Sam Worthington's lead character of Sully and several of the Navi characters. But we don't get it. And that's a real loss to this movie. Call characterization a D minus.

So is Avatar any good? Should you go see it? I would say absolutely see this movie and see it in 3D. My bet is that the defects are much more obvious without the effects. You'll have plenty of fun and you'll talk about it for days. My bet is that if you're really into the movies it's going to leave you feeling a little empty. As if some important inner piece was missing from the experience. Like disconnecting your avatar.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown


Reverend Ref + said...

Yep . . . I termed it "Pocahontas meets Return of the Jedi." Mrs. Ref said it was "Ant Bully meets Fern Gully." And one commenter termed it "Dances with Giant Smurfs."

But man . . . the 3-D effects were awesome.

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