>> Saturday, January 16, 2010

I finally got to see it. Not in 3D though. Oh well. It was still worth seeing in regular D.

I never ceased to be amazed how Jim Cameron can take what would ordinarily be a flimsy or trite story, flesh it out a bit and make it look outstanding on screen. A critic (Ty Burr of the Boston Globe) said "In terms of plot, then, this is “Dances With Wolves.’’ Seriously: It’s the same movie, re-imagined as a speculative-anthropological freak-out." It's totally true. It IS "Dances with Navi." That's totally Jake Sully's journey as a character. It makes me wonder what Cameron has against hiring a writer. Whenever I watch Titanic, my favorite parts are always watching the boat sink. Cameron is always at this best when doing action. Dialogue? Not always so much. There were a few times when certain lines were spat out that I thought, "Really? That's the best you could come up with? All that money and you can't hire a writer? Damn, ego really does get in the way." It's better written than Titanic for sure, but still... It's a testament to the actors Cameron hires that they make some of these lines believable.

It looks stunning though. The landscapes, the blue people, the creatures and even the translucent flatscreen computers used by the military. It's quite mesmerizing, and I'm not going to try to put it into words. I totally believed that this world existed, which is a technological triumph. I would like to see it again in 3D, probably when I can get a good seat.

But I think the best parts in the movie were two characters: Col. Miles Quaritch and Neytiri.

Every great popcorn movie needs a first-rate villain, Quaritch provides this in spades. I disliked him from his first few lines and despised him within the first 15 minutes. Perfect villain. And kudos to the fact that they didn't just kill him in the air strike but had him down on the ground fighting both Jake AND Neytiri. Bad guys like this are hard to top. I totally agree with Kristopher Tapley: give this guy a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

I think I may have a new favorite heroine in Neytiri. Utterly fierce and so genuine in her feelings for Jake. She was the one that really made me believe in these creatures as genuine beings. I totally want to be her best friend after seeing Avatar. Cameron may not always write the best dialog, but he always comes up with excellent female characters. I totally appreciate seeing a chick allowed to save the guy in a movie and not be helpless. It's about time. I came across some news a week or so ago that mentioned Zoe Saldana deserving to be nominated as Best Actress for this performance.
When I first saw the film, the remote possibility of Ms. Saldana getting a nomination for her performance was tantalizing. I rationalized that Sigourney Weaver’s turn, part CG and part human, was more likely to be the breakthough nomination. But I have been struck by how many people, Academy members included, have remarked on the emotional weight of Saldana's performance holding the movie together. She is both very physical and very raw emotionally… something we have not really seen since Ms. Weaver in Mr. Cameron’s Aliens.

There is a lot of education to be done here. My interviews with Cameron and WETA’s Joe Letteri took me through both the intent of the filmmakers and how this first-time ever process truly allowed the actors to do all of their traditional acting work, even as they were computerized.

But the bottom line is, this is a strong piece of acting. It is a full-out performance. And by the middle of the film, you believe in who Naytiri is, above and beyond being 10 feet tall, blue, and nearly naked. This is a testament to Zoe Saldana’s work. She deserves serious consideration for a nomination, as any other actress who had given a performance like this would.
I heartily agree. I would much rather Zoe get nominated than Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side.


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