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:
For the curious, a shot of my ticket stub:
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.