I get to go to quite a few screenings… and I haven’t been to one this “regulated” in years. (Movie reviewers only, no guests, one screening, no cameras, etc.) But hey… this is James Freaking Cameron!
Think about it. We haven’t seen a film from Cameron since Titanic, the biggest box office success ever! So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that I got a chance to screen Avatar. Congruently, you can probably relate to my high expectations.
Look at Cameron’s repertoire of films: Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, T2, True Lies, Titanic… not a dud in the bunch (a couple of rentals, but not a dud). How do you follow up the greatest selling film of all time?
I’m actually not allowed to post my review of the film until next Friday, the 18th (told you it was stringent), but I’m allowed to make some broad comments about my screening experience.
First, I’ll tell you that the film is definitely worthy of going to the theatre for the release. A mere glimpse of the preview on the official site will tell you that. The film is over 2 hours and 40 minutes long and I didn’t want to miss a minute. I attended the screening right after lunch and had to pee so bad two hours into it I almost went in a cup! (I didn’t… I sprinted!)
I’d love to give you details, but I can’t yet. I’ll just tell you that there were a few scenes that were visually amazing. The fantasy genre has proven to be well liked by audiences in the last decade, and I think the whole “avatar” premise will be welcomed by an extremely “virtual” generation.
But, all that said, it was hard for the film to rise to my expectations. This film is the “little brother” of “the captain of the football team.” It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is… it will always be compared to Titanic.
I called my son as soon as the screening was done and started giving him the play-by-play. I told him of scenes he would love and scenes that I thought they could have improved. I told him it was enjoyable, but a little preachy and too new age for me at times (I didn’t tell you that… I just told him that.. wink, wink.)
The main aspect I have to vent about is the choice to do 3D. (I don’t even know if I’m allowed to talk about this) I’m really disappointed they went 3D. I’ll be honest: I’ve never enjoyed a 3D film, ever! I was sitting at home in front of an HD screen literally 3 hours after the screening and the preview came on. I thought the preview on my HD screen looked better than I had just seen on the big screen wearing the stupid 3D glasses. I hate 3D. And there weren’t really any great 3D moments. So the 3D definitely effected my perception of the film.
That all being said… the film was really good overall.
I’ll share my official review next week with what I liked and didn’t like. I’ll also share my “two cents” on how appropriate it is (or isn’t) for kids. The only thing I’ll say now is that there is a lot of weird religious themes throughout the film that parents will want to talk about with their kids, especially in today’s culture of mix and match religions (just saw an article on that very subject here yesterday).