These are my thoughts on the film. I just got home from watching a midnight showing at a local theater…
First off, don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie. Seriously. It’ll ruin your experience.
Second, the movie was awesome. Go see it again, I know I will! It was beautiful, action packed, and blurred the “uncanny valley” line. The way it was made was revolutionary and the 3D presentation was definitely top notch. The CG was amazing. I’m still trying to figure things out! There are many more praises, but I’ll let the rest of the world continue with that.
On to my gripes. The following are things that dropped me out of the movie each time I saw/heard them. These things hurt my experience. Yes, I’m picky and hard to please, especially when it comes to CG related films…but still. Here we go (in no particular order):
It was beautifully done. It worked really well, but at times it forced me to look at certain areas. Really forced my eyes. I wanted to look around at all the crazy cool stuff there was to see, but at times I was pushed one way or the other via depth of field in 3D, etc. This is definitely a director’s choice and vision and I respect that, but there are times when I want to look for myself. This isn’t really a big gripe, but I felt it should be mentioned.
Really?!? Seriously?!? I mean, the internet griped (myself included) that it was used in the first trailer…why would they put it in the movie? Especially as the subtitles! It is an overused font. Period. Anyone that knows anything about fonts would stay away from using it. The thing is: why, in this movie that paid so much attention to detail (the plants, language, everything), would they not take the time to find a better font to use, or create a new one?! I cringed each time it came on the screen.
It was in the movie, except it was blue. And it wasn’t something small that could be overlooked…it was the huge gas giant planet that Pandora orbits! It was banded and had a large swirling storm like Jupiter has. Why make this planet/setting seem like it’s crazy far away and still ground it by putting something in it that we all know? …also, Pandora looked too Earth-like from space to me. Not really an issue though. “Jupiter,” yes.
When watching the movie, one animal noise stuck out to me. In the scene where Jake is being chased by a creature (the one that ultimately gets him lost in the forest), it made noises that I’d heard before. They were from the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. To me, that sound was etched in my brain the first time I saw Jurassic Park because the T-Rex was so realistic. When I heard it tonight, I thought “why’d they rip off the T-Rex sound?” It made the creature from Avatar not fit well to me.
[Update: After watching it a second time, the creature makes the noise twice — once kind of randomly, the second when it’s jumping in slow motion. Also, the “horses” in the movie make noises that sound exactly like the raptors in Jurassic Park… Why?]
Where’s John Williams when you need him? When watching the movie, I heard something at the beginning that caught my attention. It was a fanfare/theme I’d heard before in another movie. A theme that was, I feel, overdone in that other movie. It’s something that I make fun of today. It was a fanfare from Enemy at the Gates, from the piece: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted. When I heard it the first time in Avatar, I thought it was a fluke and that perhaps it was a crazy coincidence. However, I was wrong. It came up again and again. Any time there was an intense scene where people/things were getting hurt, I heard the theme. Duh-nuh-nuh-NUN! Over and over. I was mad. Why was this theme re-used for such a breakthrough movie?! After the movie, I got on my iPhone, used the IMDB app and looked up the composer for both Enemy at the Gates and Avatar. Surprise!! It’s the same guy: James Horner. He’s a great composer and has created the soundtracks for many big movies, but I was disappointed with this re-used theme. And to show that I don’t straight up dislike his work I’ll say that I own and listen to The Mask of Zorro soundtrack all the time. I really like it, along with other scores he’s created. I just couldn’t believe the blatant theme re-usage. Every time I heard it, I thought Enemy at the Gates. That’s what themes are supposed to do: remind you of the scene/moment/emotion/movie/etc! You don’t hear The Imperial March used in Harry Potter! Also, after the movie my friend Matt told me he heard a lot of the Titanic soundtrack in the movie. Guess who composed that one as well? James Horner. (To be somewhat fair, I do hear mixing of John Williams’ works in other works of his…just nothing as blatant as this.)
[Update: the same thing is in The Mask of Zorro soundtrack in multiple pieces! Gah! It will haunt me forever!!]
The plot reminded me of FernGully, but on a different, more awesome planet. And the technology they had let you “plug into” another consciousness of yourself, like The Matrix. And there were mechwarriors like The Matrix sequels.
[Update: Everyone has already mentioned Dances With Wolves, and I agree, but FernGully has a similar setting as Avatar and was a quicker reference to me, especially since I watched it a few months ago]
But the movie was awesome. I’m just ranting because I have a blog and can. Maybe there are others out there that are just as ridiculous as me… And, if you cheated and read this before seeing it, hopefully you can still enjoy the movie! 😛
On the T-Rex and Raptors:
I saw the movie last night and I immediately noticed that the large black cat-creature sounded like the Jurassic Park T-Rex too!! At first I thought it may be a coincidence but then when the six-legged horses showed up I also immediately noticed that their bellows sounded SYNONYMOUS with those pesky raptors in JP (the film being one of my all-time favorites). They even used that unmistakable cackle the raptors screamed immediately after cawing. I hopped on the net to see if anyone else noticed as well. Weird.
Re: MUSICAL SCORE
For a minute (well more like many months) i thought i was crazy because i too recognized the theme from Enemy at the Gates. I thought it was just me because i figured it was a different composer, but since I’ve been watching it on DVD now for a few months i’d figure i’d look up the composer, and along the way i found this post. Makes me wonder if composers are even allowed to do this with their music for different films, but i guess they are. I wouldn’t say that it was a bad fit, but since i heard it in a WWII era film, it is kinda hard to fit it here. For those that haven’t seen EATG i suggest watching it because its good, but i wasn’t sure it if it fits here. Just glad someone picked up on it besides me!