Avatar opens in Tokyo

Avatar アバター Japan advertisement

I meant to post this the other day, but then Christmas was upon us and then I got hit with Norovirus (which, I can tell you, is NOT a pretty way to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day)! Still on little-to-no food  AND have not had a cup of coffee for three days (if you know me, you know this is an almost unbelievable state of affairs).

Anyway, Avatar officially opened in Japan on December 23, but it was, for some reason(?), showing at the Toho Cinemas in Roppongi Hills from the 22nd. Since I had the evening free and I’d been feeling fairly cooped up from the other flu I’d just had, I decided to go and check it out (how ridiculous does that sound? I seriously get sick once every 2 years, but have been hit twice in one month this year).

I opted for the 3D version, which is a no-brainer if you have the choice at your local cinema. If you don’t have the choice, it might be worth the drive somewhere else. It’s not that you have to see it in 3D, but just that the whole point of the movie seems to be the visual universe created; and it was created with a 3D delivery in mind.

The story is not really anything you haven’t seen before (so I DO NOT CONSIDER THIS A SPOILER if you have not yet seen the movie, BUT skip this paragraph if you are not one that notices archetypes being employed in almost every story you read, see, or watch): an unlikely hero, a relationship beginning under false pretenses and morphing into a love relationship that flourishes despite seemingly insurmountable differences, a change of allegiance, and the lovers being reunited in the end.

On another level, the story is also a rehash of Princess Mononoke and countless other stories dealing with “Man’s callous destruction of nature for commercial gain”. This part of the story is, quite frankly, so heavy-handed it is impossible to suspend your disbelief and when you mix it in with a whole slew of what is considered today, in 2009, to be shocking Colonialist sentiment (the indigenous are “savages”, etc.), you might find yourself wincing at the screen.

If you have any sense of “story”, you know exactly the direction the whole thing is moving and there are NO surprises anywhere; in other words, at about the one-third mark, you could probably finish the script yourself.

However, that is NOT why you go and see Avatar in the theatre: you go see it for the astounding visual universe created; or, rather, you go and see it for the realization of the astounding universe in James Cameron’s head brought to the screen in 3D. It is worth seeing for the forest scenes alone. Screen shots don’t really do it justice, but the night-time forest scenes are really fantastic:

AVATAR forest scene still image

AVATAR forest scene still

For the curious, a shot of my ticket stub:

Avatar ticket stub Japan

Yes, it was ¥2100 for one ticket – that’s $23.99 for my Canadian readers and $22.95 for any Americans reading this or €15.95 for those of you in Europe. I have no idea how much it costs to see a movie in a major city in Europe (despite the cold and crappy weather when I was last there, it never crossed my mind to go and watch a movie), but I do know $24 is a bit steep compared to Canadian movie theatres.

You can visit the AVATAR Japan website and watch the Japanese trailer for the movie here – it’s a bit different from the the U.S. version.

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  • Daniel

    In Belgium it was 11 EUR for the 3-D version of the movie

    • tokyololas

      So, quite a bit more expensive here then!

      I think there was a premium charge of ¥300 extra because it was a 3D showing – the usual price is ¥1800.

  • 5RBs

    Glad to see you are getting into the movie critic business and love your synopsis on run of the mill movie conflicts–it’s down right quotable and I expect to see it lifted by some mainstream pros. And, OMG, I cannot believe the Wiki page dedicated to “suspension of disbelief.” Who knew?

  • tokyololas

    A good exercise doing a critique…I don’t often feel compelled to actually write down these mental critiques I make after watching movies, but, in this case, I was sort of compelled to because of the odd mixed feelings the experience generated: on one hand, I was amazed by the sensory-experiential-visual-colour aspect, but found the story just so cookie-cutter-like. I can’t say I’d recommend the movie to anyone who is not interested in the technical/visual aspect (except on the grounds that it is part of the zeitgeist).

    As for Wikipedia, I think there is a page for everything…(although, that reminds me: I looked up something the other day and it wasn’t there and I felt almost shocked).

  • esa

    noro virus? so sorry to hear that. you ate raw oyster or something like that?

    • tokyololas

      Hey Esa,
      How are you?
      Thanks for commiserating…No raw oysters (not much of an oyster fan) and not sure the original source, but all I can say is this: wash your hands like crazy! I wouldn’t wish the 12 hours of hell on anyone and you can get it so easily.

  • B and I saw it the other night as well. IMAX 3D was sold out from the 29th through to the midnight showing on NYE!!
    So we went to the ‘Regular 3D’ which I was disappointed to see that it was the older Real D 3D technology with the spiral polarized glasses. Too dark!! I was hoping it would be the new Dolby 3D tech. The movie was make for 3 3D techs, Dolby, IMAX and Real D. Crazy!
    So yes, as you say, it was a simple story to show off stunning visuals. It was Dances with Wolves meets Braveheart set in a forest that really is an exact copy of a tropical coral reef!
    Go night diving sometime in Cozumel and you’ll see similar animals and very similar shapes and colours. Phosphorescent ‘trees’ and plants everywhere. Even those flower like things that disappear when you touch them.
    The most obvious of course were the floating jelly fish like things that healed Jake etc.
    Fun movie, must see in 3D in the theatre, but not worth waiting in line for 3 hours like we did (1 hour was at a restaurant, 2 hours in line as every show sold out and you want good seats 🙂

  • J

    Hahaha. The tickets are about $16-17 in Canadian dollars but then again most things are steeper priced in Japan.

  • Conic

    I just paid ¥1,500 yen to see it with the ¥300 3D charge. This was in Ikebukuro, at Sunshine Cinimas.