So Brinestone and I finally saw Avatar, now that it has come to Redbox, and I am only slightly ashamed to admit that it was actually a lot better than I’d thought. I was expecting 2 hours and 42 minutes of hemorrhage-inducing stupidity, but it turned out to be a fairly entertaining movie. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel too long, and the visual effects were indeed spectacular, even on our standard-definition 26-inch screen.
But (no offense to my friend Dan, who saw the movie about 17 bajillion times in theaters and was personally responsible for about 3 percent of the movie’s gross earnings), I thought the entire thing was one giant cliche—including the plot, characters, and dialog—from beginning to end. Not once was I surprised by anything; you see everything coming from about a mile away, and as a lot of critics have said, it really does feel like it’s little more than a mashup of Pocahontas and Fern Gully. Maybe throw in some Dances with Wolves in there for good measure. But that’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining, despite its predictability.
On a different note, some designers have criticized it for using that most hated of all fonts, Papyrus, in the subtitles and the movie’s title. And while I agree that it’s a bad font that screams, “I’m an amateur!”, in a strange way I think it was actually the perfect font. It’s hackneyed and cliche and almost universally beloved by non-professionals. And it says little more than “I’m vaguely and generically exotic,” which is exactly what Pandora and the Na’vi are.
The planet is described as being worse than hell, but in reality it seems like a rather pleasant and enchanting version of Earth with a few slight twists—the animals mostly look like Earth animals, except they have six legs and breathe through their necks (ooh! exotic!). The plants mostly look like Earth plants, too, except they all luminesce (again: ooh! exotic!). The Na’vi, in the grand tradition of Star Trek, look and act almost exactly like people, but their skin is blue and they have tails. Oh, and there are inexplicable floating mountains and energy fields and some mineral that’s extremely valuable, though we have no idea why. Again: it all has the thin veneer of exoticness, but underneath it’s all comfortably bland, familiar, and unoriginal.
But I still kind of wish I’d seen it in IMAX 3-D.