Avatar – surprisingly good!

My 12 year old son has been nagging me to take him to see Avatar for weeks now, and up till now I’ve avoided it. To be honest it just didn’t appeal to me – the trailer didn’t look very interesting, I hate wearing 3D glasses and I thought it would be all good looks and no substance. Eventually I gave in and agreed to take him at the weekend – but then messed up by assuming that everyone else would have already been, not pre-booking tickets and arriving to find the screening full! Oops.

Anyway, we prebooked for last night and, of course, the cinema was almost empty this time, sod’s law really. I joked to Dan that I was planning on having a sneaky snooze behind the glasses but to be honest, I wasn’t actually joking.

So the film started and I thought, “Here we go, prepare to be bored” … and then was completely blown away by the film!

It just has so much going for it. First of all, what genre is it? Where would you pigeon-hole it? At its heart it’s a sci-fi film – or is it actually a fantasy? – but it’s also full of romance, action, adventure and self-discovery, with some quite thought-provoking messages about biodiversity, ecology and imperialism, political overtones and the odd comedic moment. I was expecting this to be a film for geeks or pre-pubescent boys but there really is something for everyone in Avatar.

Then there is the look of the thing. Seriously, it is staggeringly beautiful. There were scenes that just took my breath away. The landscapes on Pandora are stunning, the amount of action going on onscreen at times is mind-warping and the Na’vi people are the most expressive computer-generated beings I’ve ever seen. The human actors aren’t too bad either (though some of the army guys a a bit wooden), and seeing “real” people and places rather than cartoons in 3D for the first time (for me) was an interesting experience.

Finally, there is the storyline. In its own way it’s an epic on the scale of Lord of the Rings (though thankfully shorter!) It’s the classic battle between a technology advanced race and a people leading a simpler life – in this case peaceful nature-loving aliens (well, humanoids) and greedy techno-reliant humans, with nature winning out, of course. OK, the characterisation isn’t as strong as it could be, but the main characters – especially Jake, Grace and Neytiri – are well defined and really make the viewer care about them. Making the case against imperialism and the more recent US assaults on Iraq, I found myself ashamed to be human as I watched the beautiful Hometree being destroyed just for the rich mineral elements beneath it (OK I know it’s only a film!) And yes, I cried at the end!!

So okay, I loved it, despite all my preconceptions. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’d happily sit through its 162 minutes again. And Dan loved it too – though probably onĀ  different level to me – declaring it the “best film ever”.

So … Avatar. Go see it! BUT …… make sure you see it in 3D. Because 2D just doesn’t do it justice.

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