Word is bond, when I was 12, James Cameron was my favourite director. I'm mean, come ON! Have you SEEN True Lies? That movie rocked, man! And Titanic, when (SPOILERZ!!!) Leo died? Total weepfest. And the old lady with the jewels and the ocean... I mean, that shit was DEEP!

I'm a little older now, but I don't think James Cameron has grown up with me. In the interviews I've read, he has talked about how Avatar is a demonstration of the tools now available to filmmakers (basically the ones seen in Lord of the Rings. In fact, Cameron used the same CGI company). But he also stresses how those tools mean nothing if your story isn't solid. Now, if you're 12, Avatar's story is probably solid enough (COOL SPLOSINZ!!!). But, like I said, I'm a little older now.

The contradiction of an anti-capitalist, tree-hugging theme in what is a tech-obsessed, Hollywood money-spinner may strike you as rather charming. Personally, while I see that hearts were in their right places, I am by nature a grouchy motherfucker and found it annoying. Or rather, not good enough. This is the thing. When you have this good vs. evil clash at the heart of your story, setting up the good side is very easy. Everyone can dream of utopia. What makes these stories interesting (always! ALWAYS! May I say again... ALWAYS!) is the evil side. The bad guys make the whole thing work. This is where you need to be intelligent. This is where you can challenge your audience. This is where you can make them think, not only "oh, this is nice", but "hey, why aren't we here".

Cameron just gives us an Apocalypse Now caricature, except without the disturbing humour. I'm not gonna slam the actor, because for what it was, he did a pretty great job. But I needed a zinger. When the fireballs went up, he needed to quietly mutter something like "pretty bang bang", so that we get it. We like the explosions. He likes them too! THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH US! I'm not expecting Hurt Locker level characterization here, but there had to be something more than just straight-up beefy badass.

Villains engage with an audience in a way heroes can't. They are always cooler. They are always more fun. Michelle Rodriguez (ohmystars!) is the only goody with any spark (not just hotness, I swear), and she loses all of it when she inexplicably joins the righteous. She didn't sign up for this, apparently... (DIDN'T YOU??) The most captivating character on screen was the business boss, played by the ever wonderful Giovanni Ribisi. I've only seen him playing gormless fools or tech-heads, so seeing him play the man in charge was a surprise. And he was funny being the dumb capitalist. I LIKED this guy, so much more than our actual hero. I wanted to see HIM go on a journey of discovery. Instead, we only got flashes of doubt, and a scene of humiliation at the end. Nothing. BOOORING!

All this lecturing aside, the 3D thing. Again, probably about 12 the last time I went to see a 3D film, and it was at the IMAX in the Science Museum. I found it pretty impressive, but that may have just been the astronauts and spaceships (I watched a documentary, it being a cinema in a museum, after all). Watching Avatar now, the effect of the 3D was, to put it kindly, subtle. It didn't notably enhance the depth of the picture. And the bits flying towards you didn't thrill once you got used to it. Worse, the floaty stuff in the forground could actually distract attention away from a scene. And the glasses dampen the brightness of the image (also, dorky and uncomfortable). So the 3D was either unnoticable or irritating. Not a revolution in cinema. Very much a gimmick.

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