Friday, January 15, 2010

Movie Review #1- Avatar


As I am sitting here starting my first movie review blog I am actually listening to the soundtrack of Avatar to relax me during my day at work. So I thought I would begin the blog with a quick mention of the music before I get into the depths of Avatar, the latest triumph by James Cameron.
 I have a large collection of movie scores both on my IPod and my home server and this soundtrack is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. James Horner to me is one of the best composers of the modern times. He ranks up there with John Williams, (of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park fame), Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings), Hans Zimmer (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator) and the like. He has scored for Braveheart, Perfect Storm, and Titanic in the past and his music continues to amaze me. He uses all types of instruments to give me chills and the vocals are just as haunting.
I know to break apart a movie score seems kind of overkill to some, but to me music can make a movie. I am a firm believer that music can indeed sooth the savage beast. The soundtrack has helped this New Year in calming my nerves down several times at work and reminded me of the world I was allowed to escape to for almost 3 hours….

Storyline- Escapism at its best

As most of you all know, James Cameron is no stranger to creating the fantastical epics, like the first two of the Terminator series, Aliens, and The Abyss, or a romance for the ages like Titanic. The level of escapism is incredible considering the planet is modeled after a primitive type of Earth. The moon Pandora is a very natural habitat only cut into recently by the humans and still a pristine place. The world though is lush and green and full of life. It certainly makes us tree huggers wish the Earth still had more reachable places like this. I think that we all long for a place like this because of its richness in life and color. We all have Cameron to thank for this and for his amazing technology teams that help bring it to life….

Production- Technology

As we all know by now James Cameron used some amazing technology to create this movie. Not only did he implore the likes of WETA and ILM to help with his movie, but he helped them in developing many new technologies that have now pushed the movie making experience to the next level. I won’t be a reporter and tell you all of the new technologies, but I do want to mention one that amazes me and makes me smile.

James Cameron was tired of how motion capture technology delayed the best performance capabilities because of processing time. In other words the delay for the director to see the footage the acting and performance was so delayed that reshoots were very common and often directors lived with the performance. James Cameron was able to help devise the camera that included a screen to display, via a large set of high processors, the actors already in their world so that he could direct them with accuracy. In addition to this he was able to take the motion capture to a new level with the multiple angle shots also done on the actor’s faces and such. The realism is at a new level with the faces of the Na’vi and with this comes the comfort zone people will now have with a CGI face. No more is it going to look plastic or fake or anything. It not only brings a new level of realism and enjoyment to the movie. The expressions make every one seem more real and more alive than ever before.

Cultural Impacts and Influences

In watching the movie I picked up immediately some of the under lying references in the storyline. Some people may say I am reading into it, but I believe it is important to the telling of his story. Cameron uses many references to Native American life and traditions, African tribal traditions, and even some Australian Aboriginal lore and such. I won’t go into the details because too much could give too much insight into the movie if you haven’t seen it. Many of the traditions though are featured such as being one with the land, respecting the life, and the life of a warrior.

The living as one with the land is what really caught my attention more because of its tolerance with Pandora;s life. I have always wished and prayed that the filmmakers in Hollywood would use their influence more and more to open some eyes. People are just not living in harmony with the world and perhaps a large scale epic can open even just a few eyes.

Optimism in us all just getting along- love

A last topic I wanted to discuss is in regards to how the movie, at least to me, shows the hope we all share in getting along. The movie really explores the influence of love and how it affects one’s personality. The hard core Marine living in the midst of a tribe that lives in a tree and worships the forest is certainly a good place to start to show how we all have the ability to love and to get along. It’s certainly a simplification of the events, but I really don’t want to a lot away to those details.

In closing I really look forward to the blu-ray release and any sequel that might occur. I hope that everyone else enjoys the movie like I did, but I know there will be nay sayers and that is ok.


Anonymous said...

Obviously I loved this movie after you convinced me to see it. Your true hippie roots come out in this blog and that was one of the reasons I fell in love with you and your tie-dye'd shirts!

I loved every aspect of this movie and I only wish I could come up with a world like the one James Cameron created. Damn genius.

Gabriella said...

At first, I thought this movie would be just a bunch of blue people in 3D and that the only reason to see it would be the special effects, so i have not seen it. But, after reading this review, I think i will go see it becuase of the way you described some of the themes and i also love a good score. Thanks! :)