Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 14 December 2009 to 20 December 2009

Okay, this is thin:

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: Test Screening for the Boston Sci-fi Film Festival (Tuesday, 15 December 2009, Somerville Theater Video Room, 7pm)

Yes, I actually took off work to see Avatar opening day. Hey, I had vacation time I had to either use by the end of the year or lose, and what makes for a better use of it on short order? As for the rest of the white space there, there was Sherlock Holmes to watch, Christmas shopping to do, and snow to react to like a complete bunkered-down wuss.

And the second-to-last screening night for the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. My nots are rather incomplete, so we might not actually have seen much beyond "Attack of the Robots of Nebula-5" and "Enigma", which both went over pretty well. Both were pretty decent, although I didn't love "Nebula-5" quite so much as some of the other folks. Both were well-made, atbeit in different ways.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 18 December 2009 in Jordan's Furniture Reading (IMAX 3-D)

I'm kind of glad that I don't have to review this one for eFilmCritic or some other outlet, because writing the review would drive me nuts. I think it's a thoroughly successful movie, one of the most visually amazing to hit the screen in a long time. James Cameron does things in terms of world-building and large-scale action choreography that nobody other than George Lucas has even gotten close to, and unlike Lucas, he writes a perfectly fine script and works pretty well with his cast.

I worry, though, that when I say that, people will tend to overlook the comments about just how amazing this film looks or sounds, and see words like "perfectly fine" and "pretty well" (and "serviceable", which would almost certainly be used in a full write-up), andtake them as a negative. Sure, Avatar is not quite the killer app that some had hoped for, the movie that combines eye-popping visuals with crisp dialogue, award-caliber acting, and a sophisticated story to create the science fiction epic that would give the genre instant mainstream and highbrow credibility. It's a little familiar. It occasionally uses something that's a bit of a cliché. The performances are fine.

Understand - nothing in there should deter anybody from seeing this movie. It's just that, when it comes to a film routinely being described with superlatives, something less than that may sound negative. And it shouldn't. It's just that the hype, and the fact that this movie is legitimately excellent in other areas, makes it seem like less.

And make no mistake: Avatar makes sweet love to the audience's optic nerves. Darn near every frame of the film is beautiful, impeccably designed, and rendered so well that the whole "uncanny valley" issue, and that of integrating live-action with animation, is all but undetectable. Cameron can also stage a great big special-effects-filled action sequence better than just about anyone other than George Lucas, and the one that makes up the climax of the film is a doozy. It's also some of the very best use of 3-D in the current boom: There's a great sensation of depth, scale, and space, with only one or two attempts to make the audience flinch by having something fly directly at them. It's amazing, and from the first moment when I saw the exterior of a spaceship to the very end, there was very little time spent without my mouth agape.

For some that's not enough, which is fine in some ways, but you know... Just as it's okay to sacrifice spectacle for characterization. And... Hollywood is the only place in the world where making this kind of spectacle is practical. If they're the only ones who can make something that is awesome at this scale and in this way... Well, don't they practically have a responsibility to make awesome things?

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