“Avatar” (2009)

I saw Avatar in regular 3D rather than schlepping to an IMAX 360, or paying extra to see it in IMAX on a flat screen, which friends warned was a waste of the upcharge. I went in expecting a trite story, and Cameron didn’t disappoint. This is one of the oldest, most-told tales ever:

Dumb young guy comes into strange situation, and is educated by hot, ass-kicking chick. (Matrix) He doesn’t speak her language, but she’s a princess, and he wins her though she was promised to another. (Pocahontas, and the guy even has the same initials as John Smith.) He’s sent in as a spy, but switches allegiances when he recognizes the nobility of the “savages” and organizes them to fight back.

One of my favorite movie reviews ever was of Moulin Rouge, in which the critic said something like, if the story is cake then it’s stale as can be, but, oh, how divine is the frosting! The same holds true, here. Even Cameron has made some of this movie before, like Giovanni Ribisi in the corporate tool role that Paul Reiser played in Aliens. The story is stale, but Cameron’s visuals and the 3D are fresh and exciting. Initially I was sitting in the center of the theater till the rude people behind me wouldn’t stop talking. I moved closer to the screen, and the 3D effect and immersion was intensified. The 2 hours and 40 minutes passed quickly. There was a long scene near the end with Sigourney Weaver that should have been cut, but the rest didn’t feel bloated. Worthington, with his Russell Crowe-ish hidden-Aussie accented growl, is compelling as the messiah figure, and Zoe Saldana makes a terrific warrior princess.

Go, expecting a bad movie that looks good. But go, because it won’t be nearly as cool if you’re not in the theater seeing it in 3D.

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