Avatar – Film Review 2

I haven’t gone back to see a movie twice in many years. The last one I remember was Collateral, which I thought was brilliant. My second viewing confirmed it. That is an excellent movie with a terrific ensemble performance and captures LA as only Michael Mann can. It might be Mann’s best film – although I have a particular fondness for Thief and its existential angst played against the backdrop of Chicago’s rainy streets and Tangerine Dreams soundtrack. Collateral is in that tradition (as is Heat), only tighter with a better script.

I digress.

With Avatar, the motivation was different. I wanted to be less distracted by all the revolutionary stuff going on in terms of 3D and computer EFX and try to enjoy the movie simply. I did – immensely.

What surprised me was how faster the movie went by the second time. Initially, I thought there was a bit of lag between the second and third acts, and I didn’t see this the second time. The movie zips by.

I mentioned in my other review that there were problems with Avatar, and they were no less apparent the second time. Other anachronisms, one-dimensional characterizations by some live actors, and the lame joke searching for a substance called  “unobtanium” were left out of that review. Again, these are minor problems with a delicious and refreshing movie experience. These should not be speed bumps in your race to see this movie in 3D ASAP.

In my first review, I missed Sam Worthington’s and Zoe Saldana’s excellent acting. I am sure this will be overlooked as they will be lumped together with voice actors in animated features. Yet, they were so much more than this. These actors, and all the other Navi, were bridled with head cameras that captured facial expressions brought into the virtual character and were the crucial link to the viewer’s emotional involvement with the story. So much of the story between Jake Sully and Neytiri was told by their reaction to each other. A glance, a blush, a pause. That is the “acting” part. They did a great job, and I am sure it wasn’t easy running around with blue screens and headgear trying to convey this subtle emotionality. Hats off to those two and the rest of the Navi crew.

I was again surprised by how the movie caught me emotionally. Through all the bombast of bullets, bombs, and profit-driven imperialism, Avatar was more than a shoot-em-up with significant effects; it was a story that echoes most human needs: the desire to be accepted, loved, and heard.

Jake Sully found all that on Pandora, and we viewers are moved because we understand and recognize our needs and feelings. We see them played out every day here on earth. Sometimes with good outcomes, sometimes not. 

With Avatar, the outcome is a good one.

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