My husband and I finally made it to Avatar on the last night it was in the theaters in all of its 3D splendor. Neither of us was eager to give up two and a half hours to sit through Cameron’s self-indulgent splurge. But the movie had outgrossed (I’m not sure which meaning to embrace here: it was the most gross film this year or the one that made the most money) every film ever made and some critics claimed that movies would not be the same after Avatar.
So we made the pilgrimage to one of the Northgate theaters in San Rafael. I had thought the place would be packed with others like ourselves who hadn’t mustered the wherewithal to see it during the big rush. But the theater was almost empty. Maybe a dozen plus ourselves attended. We put on our 3D glasses and sat back, ready to be wowed by all of the pyrotechnics.
The last time 3D had been a big deal was in the 50s when House of Wax had made its debut. I didn’t have a chance to see 3D then, so I was eager for this experience, and it didn’t let me down. In fact, 3D is what made the movie exciting for me. My husband also liked those effects, but he checked out early, claiming it was boring. I wasn’t bored. I was too busy taking in all of the visuals that Cameron and his crew had concocted.
I also admit to getting sucked into the “story,” such as it is. I wanted the Marine to prevail and get his wheels back. I wanted the female Na’Vi he fell for to kick butt and get her man. I’ll admit it: I got sucked into the very basic love story between the human and the droid. I wanted him to be the hero who saved this group from extinction.
It’s an old theme, one that seems to lurk in most of our psyches, waiting to express itself. Good overcomes evil. Boy meets girl. All of the cliches.
While I agree with much of the criticism of the movie, I also was able to accept it on its own grounds. It was a hoot! I know it wasn’t trying to be a funny, but I found it exceedingly so. It was Star Wars on steroids. It was all of the westerns and other hokey movies I’ve seen over the years personified. How could I not get involved in it emotionally?
But did I come away feeling as if I had just experienced something profound (my students told me it would change my life)? No. I felt let down ultimately by all the hoopla around the flick. I longed for a walk in the country, where I grew up. I wanted to experience the real beauty of nature, not the digitalized attempts to capture it on the screen. I wanted to breath real air.