Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Initial Thoughts on Avatar



A lot of “Top Ten Films of the 00s” lists have been generated in the last couple of weeks. As someone who has to gradually see films as they are released and work into a full life, one wonders how they are able to have a good grasp on the nineties at this point, let alone the 2000s. In any case, (and even though I am no where near ready to say I have digested the decade’s films) Avatar should have earned a spot near the top of anyone’s list no matter how you approached it.

Visually there has never been anything like this movie. There is some doubt in my mind that it will work as well in repeat viewings once it makes the move to television screens in “2D.” However, it is unbelievable how good this technology looks. With James Cameron’s cocky statements in the past couple years concerning this project I went in wanting to hate it, but boy did he deliver! A word of warning to those of you that share my fear of heights…

The story is also incredibly good. Ebert called it a “flat-out green and anti-war message.” That may be simplifying a bit. It is more of an anti-conquest story, and while it is environmental—it is so in a downright spiritual way. I can already imagine many of my fellow Christians and conservatives crying out against this story, but they shouldn’t. It is deeply thoughtful and open to many readings, not all of which are materialistic or liberal.

Without going into any detail at this point, suffice it to say that it hints at elements of Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet” and Tolkien’s nature vs. technology. It hits spiritual themes like the evil of sinful mankind, spiritual rebirth, innocence in paradise, our place in creation, and understanding sought between cultures. At times it may have more Gaia than God, but Christians have disengaged from art and the cultural dialogue for so long, they have no one to blame but themselves that people think that way when they think of spirituality. Then again, it is never too late to start talking again, and to paraphrase Lewis: paganism is a step closer to the truth than atheism.

So there is the review. Look for more of a critique and philosophical reaction in the near future, once spoilers are OK...

6 comments:

  1. No worries saw on tv that in the next 5 years they expect to have 3d for your home televisions the same way they do in the movies.

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  2. Really looking forward to this movie. Have not been to a 3D movie since I can remember. Hopefully this gets more of a hit than the Twilight saga. Thanks for the insight and review!

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  3. Well, Jeff, I don't know if I will like that. I am not a huge fan of 3D. I find it to all be annoying most of the time. We have 3 movies on dvd that have the 3d option and I prefer all three in normal mode. 2D is a misnomer, you know. All movies create the illusion of reality. If anything 3D seems more unreal.

    That is one way that Avatar worked. They did not make the 3D "in your face." Most of the time, you forget it is 3D. The only times it is really noticeable is when it is giving you vertigo at the terrible heights, and when the subtitles are floating in front of the picture.

    Most of the other 3D this year has been the kind that occasionally throws stuff at you, but is more distracting than anything. That being said, I have not seen Coraline yet. I am fixing that soon.

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  4. Sort of. It is the term for a Hindu concept similar to incarnation, but really more like appearance or representation. More applicable for this story is the use of the word in computer circles, where it means the character or representation of the user. When you are playing a game or going online, it is the character or picture that represents you.

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  5. Looking forward to seeing that movie.

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