I saw a lot of hate last night in my twitter stream regarding The Golden Globe awards. Many of the people I follow thought that James Cameron and Avatar should not have won for Best Director and Best Drama respectively. While there were many good movies and directors this year, I do not think there is a case to be made for saying that Cameron/Avatar should not have won.
I understand that a lot of people don’t feel that Avatar was not a good drama, that the story was bad and the movie was just a big budget CGI-fest. For one, that really puts down the good acting by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. Secondly, while the story is a familiar one, how often have we seen the same theme in movies win award shows year after year. There’s a reason certain themes are portrayed over and over in movies: they are themes we can easily related to. Last, which has lest to do with the drama aspect and moreso for Best Director, James Cameron spent years trying to perfect a brand new technology in order to push forward the field of cinema. He directed every scene of that movie, instead of relying on secondary directors, because he was the only one (at the time) that could see the shot he was looking for using this new technology.
A lot of people were also criticizing Avatar for having a big budget and winning. Since when did all winners have to be indie movies that no one has ever seen (note: I love the indie genre)? Just because a movie has a big budget doesn’t mean that they are not award worthy. James Cameron has done an amazing thing with technology. He is doing what for movies today what Star Wars did 30 years ago. Why would he not be recognized for it? I really don’t understand the movie snobbery that took place last night.
On a side note, I love Robert Downey, Jr. but come on? Joseph Gordan-Levitt totally deserved the award for Best Actor in a Comedy.
I went and saw Avatar in 3D over the weekend and I can sum up my experience in one word: wow. I have never seen anything like this on the big screen, or any screen for that matter. I must have been feeling the same way that people felt when they saw the original Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. The special effects were amazing and the 3D technology was fantastic. I was worried going into the movie that the 3D wouldn’t work for me. I know that with some 3D technologies (mainly the old red and blue glasses technology) some people can’t fully see the 3D because they have a dominant eye. I have a dominant eye so the red/blue 3D doesn’t work for me. Fortunately, this was not an issue at all with the Real D 3D that Avatar uses. I will admit that my eyes felt a little strained after wearing the glasses for almost 3 hours, but it wasn’t too bad.
The computer generated scenery of the movie was beautiful. When in the forest surrounded by the natives, the CGI characters looked less like CGI (think the emotionless features of The Polar Express) and more like costumed people (think Lord of the Rings). One of the best things about the 3D in this movie that it wasn’t full of typical 3D gimmicks of things flying at you for the sake of flying at you. In fact, to me, the movie was less about things flying at you as it was about providing depth to the movie. James Cameron obviously wanted you to feel like you were part of the world in the movie, and he succeeded. I can only imagine what seeing this in 3D IMAX would have been like (the only IMAX theater in St. Louis was showing A Christmas Carol in 3D and not Avatar… Big mistake). The movie did drag on a bit, but I think it was necessary to draw the viewer into this alien world and really feel a part of it. Now that we’ve seen much of it, any possible sequel wouldn’t need to spend such lengths on pulling the viewer into the environment and detailing all the plants and animals.
The story was a decent story. Nothing groundbreaking. In fact, it draws parallels to the conquest of the Native Americans (and the story of Pocahontas), so the theme should feel very familiar. Also, if your ideology leans to the Glenn Beck side of crazy, you might even think that the movie is racist against white people because only white Earthlings were featured (which, of course, was not true at all, but who needs facts?). It also drives on themes of greedy corporations and environmentalism, but as I said, the story was decent. The imagery is the real draw to this film. If you haven’t seen Avatar in 3D at the theater, make sure you do. It is something that everyone needs to experience. This is my generation’s Star Wars leap forward in theater technology.