I fear I’ve lost my sense of wonder.
I kept being pulled out of Avatar. The 3D effect often offered problems, a sort of going-out-of-phase that would last for awhile, maybe the length of a reel, like there was an occasional projector issue. When this problem occurred, subtitles, for instance, would look double printed and therefore really hard to read. The 3D distracted me because of these problems. Maybe it was my glasses. Maybe it was my eyes. The friend who came with me didn’t seem to have any problems.
Next, I kept getting pulled out of the experience because of the bits I saw and heard that seemed lifted out of other movies. The spaceship at the beginning featured rotating arm things just like the one on the Leonov in 2010 (a similarity I sort of liked because I was seeing it in the year 2010). Of course, it’s a sensible design for artificial gravity, but still, it distracted me for a minute. The design of the sleeper chambers like in Alien. The Exoskelton suit thingy which was a sort of cross between Ripley’s loader in Aliens and the mini AT-AT things from Return of the Jedi. The space marines in general.
Horner. Sigh. Almost immediately I heard THE MOTIF the danger motif, those triplets this time sounding VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL to moments in Star Trek II. Then there was the recurring use of a section that seemed lifted from Brainstorm. And the opening bars of the theme that eventually turned in to the lame song at the end sounded EXACTLY like the opening bars of that Titanic song. Oh, Horner, Horner, Horner.
The plot points seemed overly easy to follow and predict. The biology on this alien world seemed essentially terrestrial. Humanoids, really? Oh, but they only have four fingers, so that’s different. And they’re taller and have tails. Wow. And trees. Just like our trees. And dogs. And big dragon things like we’ve drawn for centuries. I guess I just expected it to be more, well, alien. And I still can’t even begin to consider the physics of floating mountains.
But, all that aside, I enjoyed it. I wish the 3D wasn’t so intrusive in its lack of consistency or me, but I appreciated the way the effect added depth to the proceedings (when it was working) without resorting to a lot of “throw the spear at the audience” moments. I enjoyed the feeling that this was a world that was very thought out, both the Marine’s world and Pandora. James Horner did his job and made music that worked in the film. And it was a nice, big experience, one that would be difficult to duplicate on a small screen.
But I feel like I mostly appreciated it intellectually without ever getting sucked in emotionally, and this is where I think I’ve lost my sense of wonder, my ability to suspend disbelief. I shouldn’t CARE about physics or astrobiology or lifts from previous movies or Horner’s being Horner. But my stupid brain wouldn’t let me just sit and get sucked in. As a kid, Star Wars completely enveloped me, sucked me in so I was unaware of anything but the movie while I was watching it. But these days I can’t seem to do it. I guess Star Trek, which I loved (and let’s not get started on stupid physics there) got a lot closer to completely sucking me in, and I was able to appreciate the “meta” qualities of it as nods to its own history as a franchise. But instead of reveling in a new world and moviegoing experience, I was lifted out too many times. I REALLY wish the 3D had been flawless for me, I think that would have really helped. But I wish I could also turn off my big stupid brain and just appreciate the movie for just being itself.