The last week I took some time to go watch Avatar, the film of the moment that breaks records, generates high expectations, and is talked about ad nauseam. It wasn’t among my plans to do so, because I didn’t see anything in it that interested me. If it had been an adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, as I originally believed, things would have been different; however, after reading some reviews and watching the trailer I still didn’t understand the reason of the hype.
The truth is that I wasn’t dying to find out, and I could have perfectly waited for it to come out on home video, but someone told me that it could only be fully enjoyed in the cinema… true, all movies are like that, but Avatar and its special effects are specifically designed for the cinema and that made it a special case.
The special effects are precisely the only thing that stands out from the film. The story isn’t exactly bad, but it’s disappointingly regular and predictable, without a single original twist in the entire plot. You can practically spend your time playing fortune teller because what you think is going to happen in the next scene is invariably what will happen.
The same is the case with the characters: they all fit into a certain cliche and behave exactly as you expect them to. I think James Cameron saw Pocahontas, Jurassic Park, and Planet of the Apes, took a bit from each, and voilá, he got the script for Avatar. The story simply doesn’t have anything you haven’t seen in any other.
And while I don’t doubt that it’ll win an Oscar for its visual effects, they aren’t flawlessly achieved either. At no moment did I forget that the blue giants and the flying reptiles were the work of digital magic. The colors are very false, possibly to emphasize the 3D. The jellyfish seeds, the floating islands, and all that wonderful glowing flora, on the other hand, are perfect and fascinating. A luscious eye candy that reminded me of a certain article I read about fluorescent mushroom forests.
In any case, the film is entertaining even if only for the effects, and I do recommend that you go see it if that’s enough for you; of course, preferably in 3D. However, it isn’t the extraordinary product that came to mark a before and after in cinematography, it’s a regular film and for the moment I refuse to put it on the pedestal of my favorite movies.