AVATAR is film enough to deserve two reviews, if not more. personally, i would enjoy reading full reviews from the other two Hockey Maskers, as well as those trusted guest reviewers who have helped boost our nielsen ratings in the past few months. there's loads to say about this film. and since we can't order a big round of drinks to chat this one up over pints, Hockey Mask Inc. is a fine platform in lieu.
whether or not we all agree on the visual, narrative, character, and subtextual aspects of AVATAR, none of us can deny the enormity of this film. i've heard several men of my father's generation, including my pops, equate their AVATAR viewing experience with that of seeing STAR WARS in 1977: in both cases audiences left the theater shaking their heads, saying, "movies will never be the same again." i did not attend STAR WARS in 1977. (actually, i was in the audience but in the womb - my dad said i kicked and squirmed in utero the entire film and then popped out squawking and screaming like a tusken raider the very next day; i had a jedi calling to attend, it would appear). however, after seeing AVATAR today in IMAX 3D, i might understand the awe that ushered audiences from the cinema in 1977.
let me begin by declaring that, in my opinion, AVATAR deserves 5 kitty cat earlobes out of 5. and i award all five lobes to the entirety of the film, not just the visuals. granted, this probably says more about me as viewer than it does about the actual film. fine. i'm okay with that. in fact, that's exactly what i've been thinking about since i left the theater today, particularly in light of so much criticism concerning the shallowness of cameron's storyline and the paper-thin quality of his characters. these things never crossed my mind during the film. for nearly 3 hours, i was in that story and on that planet. i hated the humans. i loved the na'vi. i felt queasy on the heights. i prayed under that Tree of Souls. and, as shallow as this might sound, i bought into every bit of it as if i'd hooked my pony tail up to the film and leapt with it off a floating mountain.
i totally agree with sean cathey - AVATAR is why we go to the theater - but i disagree that the archetypes steal from the experience. perhaps the enormity of the human's militant greed and the na'vi's uber-pantheism feels a bit extreme, but i believe this is another reason we go to the theater or engage art: to wrestle extremes.
sure, i sometimes enjoy a believable set of characters and conditions. john hughes is fun for such relations. the duck man? i get him. i think i knew that guy in high school. john bender? i only wish i had been that punk rock once in my life. uncle buck? hell, i'd give anything for an uncle that made snow shovel sized pancakes! sometimes it's fun to shake hands with a screen name that looks and feels and sounds similar to ourselves, but eventually i want to make room for archetypes, for mythology, for extremes, even (or especially) at the cost of my own notions of reality. such archetypes and extremes force us to leave the mirrored reflections of who we are in order to stare down the possibility of who we are becoming, where we are going, what might happen if we don't break that God-damned mirror quickly. could AVATAR offer such a prophetic vision? it depends on the gullibility of the viewer, i suppose.
perhaps it's the horror fan in me that feels safe embracing archetypal extremes. or perhaps its the closet fundamentalist buried deep in my southern baptist roots that readily grants bullets in the battle between black and white, between paper-thin humans and the overly pristine na'vi. whatever the case, john cameron suckered me into AVATAR and i never quibbled one bit with surrendering to him every emotion. this is precisely why i bought my ticket in the first place. such a surrender is exactly what i hoped for when i walked into the theater. i am gullible like that. i want to be ravaged a la STAR WARS ' 77 by that oversized theater screen. i want to walk out with broader territories and more extreme notions of a plausible reality somewhere.
shucks, i might even love trees more today than i did yesterday.