12.22.2009

Avatar : 5 of 5

Even though I've been excited about seeing Avatar for a long time (mostly because I know one of the CG supervisors on the film), secretly I was extremely skeptical about James Cameron's monumental film. As much as I enjoy CG animation, I have to admit that I don't want motion capture to be the future of filmmaking - I will always lean toward real people, real sets, and even real miniatures and effects (strings and all). But after the first 30 minutes of Avatar, my opinions started to sway, and after the first conversation between Jake and Neytiri, I was absolutely amazed. Never before in the history of CG filmmaking have facial emotions been created with such realism and believability, and I'll say right now that as I was crying during the movie's finale I realized that I was completely wrapped up in these pixel-based characters. For me, that makes Avatar a complete success, since it was able to grab my heart in a way that Zemeckis couldn't do in a 100 years, and the reason for this is that Cameron still knows how to make movies. He came up with a brilliant story that felt like Pocahontas and Romeo and Juliet, he overcame the usual zombie issues with motion capture, and above all (for my taste), he cut the film using "traditional" editing and camera angles, rather than succumbing to the stupid video game floating camera style that has killed other CG films. All of the acting was fantastic - Sam Worthington was so convincing, and Sigourney Weaver was excellent (and added lots of fun Alien geek credibility). Avatar is overflowing with awesome details (I really enjoyed the console user interfaces and the menagerie of Pandora creatures), and even though this is a relatively long movie, I can easily see myself sitting through a much longer director's cut! Rather than adding comments that you can read in a million other reviews, the best thing I can say about Avatar is it made me realize that the kind of movie I don't want to be made can actually affect me emotionally in a way I never thought possible. If this has to be the future of filmmaking, at least I'm glad that James Cameron is leading the way.