20.01.2010 23:45

I went to see Avatar last week.

Yes, if you ignore the visuals it would be boring. But if anything this is the kind of movie to see for the pretty moving images alone. This also means that it was still worth watching even after hearing all kinds of spoilers - it's been in theaters for a month now and I overheard most of the story in various conversations before I even went to the cinema. Still, I very much enjoyed it. Pseudo-3D-induced headache that followed not that much.

Actually, one of the reasons I didn't go watch it sooner was because I didn't found the still frames on posters very appealing. Interesting how the perception changes when things are moving.

One pleasant surprise was that nothing I saw in the movie was outrageously outside the domain of possible. Slower-than-light travel, no artificial gravity, a planet with unbreathable atmosphere and aliens that don't speak English (and no universal translator) are all rare nice touches in mainstream Hollywood science-fiction. Ok, floating mountains are stretching that a bit, but explanation with the Meissner effect at least passes the first mental plausibility test.

The movie obviously features as much fictional biology as it does technology. There I found some weirdness harder to ignore. One thing that caught my attention was that principles of evolution seemed kind of broken. Take a chunk of Earth and the larger lifeforms walking around (including any humans) will look pretty similar: you know, four limbs, fur, two eyes, mouth, etc. But on Pandora, no animals are seen with fur, they breathe through their stomach and have different numbers of limbs and eyes. The Na'vi with their hair and human-like bodies seem out of place in that scheme.

Talking about the blue folk, it's interesting how their feline traits (large eyes, ears, tails) on the screen appear to unrealistically amplify your perception of emotion on their faces. I wonder why is that? Reading other people's feelings is basically an image recognition task and that's something brain is very well adapted for. I guess such a face combines the features from expressions you instinctively recognize from both animals (ears) and humans (facial gestures). Since these two things never appear on the same individual you can't experience their combined effect in real life. With a bit of additional exaggeration that's possible with CGI (for example pupil dilation) no wonder some scenes feel like emotion overload.

In the end I left the theater thinking that a realistic sequel to the story would be very short. In 10 years when the next ship from Earth arrives, somebody says Nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. But I guess that would be bad for ticket sales.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life


Main Avatar message for me was harmonious living on Pandora while we destroy Mother Earth. Watch Tarantino's "Inglorious basterds" American classic next. Headache guaranteed even without 3D effects.

Thanks for the suggestion, but after reading the synopsis I think I'll skip that movie.

Posted by Tomaž

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