Yesterday, I have seen the movie Avatar (IMAX version). Can't help compiling a little list of reflections on it (full of spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie, may be you don't want to read it yet :) ).
GOOD: This was the first time I ever saw the whole movie (3 hours) in 3D. Visually, it was amazing: an alien world which didn't look the same as our own and had many interesting and thought-out details - strangely-looking animals and plants, mountains flying in the sky (hello Myst and Miadzaki), the biological civilization, all inhabitants of which are connected to each other and to their planet (Ursula K. Le Guin, Hainish Cycle, yes?..), flying dragons of different colors and styles bonded to their masters (I have a soft spot for dragons, provided that they fly well above my head ;) ), the technological wonders - skin-thin and semi-transparent tablets which seemed to be the laptops of the future, robots which would make their counterparts from Alien, Star Wars et cetera to cry from misery, glimpses of the spaceship which looked like a bit humanized version of Matrix, definitely with more money involved... yes there WAS something to watch at. THE WHOLE THREE HOURS of very beautifully drawn world.
Which immediately brings up something BAD: the movie was a bit too long. 3 hours, it's on somewhere at the limits of focused attention (_my_ focused attention, at least).
And then another BAD but of a different tint: the movie felt long because at some point, it stopped being logical - even for a fantasy movie (and this was a fantasy movie, in the same sense as Star Wars is a fantasy movie; the technology here only plays the role of setup, but the point of the story is not to test how some _scientifical_ hypothesis can develop, but just to tell a fairy tale which took place far, far away).
I'll elaborate a bit more on that. Fantasy is a realm with very strange rules which are different from our own. But nevertheless, they are present and they should be honored. "All things have rules", according to Neil Gaiman, the author of a movie Stardust which was much lovelier as a book, in my opinion. I have felt that somewhere in the last hour of Avatar, this rule has been broken and after that, the world ceased to be real in the sense of being inpredictable. To me, it happened after the main personage has taken that mightly red dragon who nobody else could have taken, using his own dragon for this (with whom, according to the rules spelled out short before, he should have been bonded for life).
How come? If this was possible, why didn't anybody of the locals try the same trick? Didn't have the vibe? Not a single person with ambitions on the whole planet? They were not supposed to be stupid, after all.
Some other things which felt wrong:
- The pilot lady which refused to comply with the orders and flew home. How come she was not sitting together with the other three guys in the same cell? (Or even worse?) Saying "this wasn't in my contract" sounds like a bad excuse and would not save her from being court-marshalled, had such situation happened in the real life.
- How come that she could still start the plane after she obviously has been stripped of the pilot rank? This seems to be a basic security breach. Can't believe that somebody like the guy who had all that army in his command could oversee such thing. He would have been dead long time ago in this case.
- Wasn't there any winter on the whole planet? (Now OK... this is fantasy so it can happen).
- If everybody was supposed to live in harmony with each other, why did they have warriors for? Why didn't they tame the animals to use for food? (Well OK again... may be it just was more fun to hunt them after all).
- The shamanic ceremony around The Tree of Souls looked very pathetic. I have to show this movie to my 11-year-old daughter to check her feelings, but I am afraid even she would not buy it.
Well, I don't want to finish it on bad note... As a show, it was good to watch. AND it's a real FANTASY movie made with a really BIG BUDGET (no cheating!) But the problem is, this movie didn't make me think about anything else apart from its inconveniences. I awe the hard work of the people who made it (their fantasy is truly amazing), but I hope next time when somebody tries to do a similar thing, they'll pick a plot with more interesting twists.