Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Avatar Review: John et Jim

The Eye
As the latest James Cameron film stops being the flavour of the season (well, almost), it assumes a whole new avatar for me.

A warning must be issued here. This isn’t a “review” of the film (I mean, two paragraphs about the plot, one about the technique, one about the acting, one about this and another about that and an easy and oversimplified good-mediocre-ugly categorisation issued at the end very conveniently dismissing all other opinions) so much as a journey into the corners of my thoughts. This review discusses topics I’d hardly imagined it’d when I saw the film. This is, as you’ll discover, two (maybe more) reviews for the price of one. There was something I wanted to review on this blog since 2009, but never could. Avatar gave me ample scope to do it this time. Issuing a spoiler warning for this film (and the subjects I’m going to discuss) is not only completely pointless at this stage (given the film has grossed a meagre $2.7 billion), but defeats the entire purpose of my review itself. You’re advised to avoid reading this piece if you are not familiar with any of these (which I believe is unlikely).

In anticipation of Avatar, I wrote a post describing my fond memories of Cameron’s Titanic. To this day, watching Titanic remains my most wonderful experience inside a cinema hall. I was expecting Cameron to reawaken the five-year-old in me, inspire awe and induce heartfelt emotions with another powerful drama. I was ready to bow before the King. A few weeks later, I was off to the theatre, bursting with excitement. After the screening was over, I found myself sorely disappointed. I could hardly understand what the fuss was all about. Was I being over-analytical in watching a film that was simply supposed to be enjoyed and experienced? (I didn’t even take my notepad along!) Did I grow too cynical and fail to enjoy the simple pleasures of life Avatar was supposed to provide? Where was the plot? Where was the excitement? Where were characters I could deeply care about? Where was the drama? The visual effects were brilliant; 3D was also great, but I got used to it so quickly that it, in my view, could no longer be used as an excuse to camouflage the hackneyed and predictable plot. I tried every bit to be swept by it. I just couldn’t go with the ride, perhaps because I’m not particularly fond of amusement park rides. Even taken as an experience, this one didn’t quite measure up to Titanic. “Oh, Jim, did you really have to do something this unimaginative?” I said loudly as I exited the theatre, much to the bewilderment of people around me. It was a perfectly forgettable movie, I thought. Then began the problem (and, needless to say, now begins the review).