Thursday, December 24, 2009


The movie to see this season for blockbuster-loving, technology wonks is James Cameron’s Avatar. We caught a late showing of the movie and really enjoyed it. The movie highlights the distinction between a film and the experience around a film. In this case the experience starts with the pre-release build up of the film: over 15 years in the making by a hugely successful and idiosyncratic screenwriter, film director and producer using groundbreaking technology to realize the film. When you arrive at the movie, sit back, relax and put on a pair of 3-D glasses so continues the experience. It’s an interesting mix of live-action performances and computer-generated effects. The motion-capture system used to create the film allows the facial expressions of actors to be captured as a virtual camera system enables them to see what their computer-generated counterparts will be seeing. It works well.

The weakest aspect of the movie is the plot, being a little on the hokey side. In a nutshell, humans in the year 2154 arrive to a planet called Pandora to strip mine a mineral known as unobtanium which is very valuable. The problem is that the native population, the Nav'vi, has homelands right over the richest deposit of the mineral. Can you see where this is going? Begin huge conflict starring a tug of war between a ruthless corporation, ex-marines and scientists hired by the corporation, and the Na'vi. The Na'vi are 10 foot tall, blue-skinned sapient humanoids. The titular “avatar” refers to the remotely controlled, genetically-engineered native bodies that humans “slip into” to befriend the natives.

Talking about experience, it’s completely appropriate that we saw the movie at Gold Class Cinemas in Redmond. Wow, what a great movie experience. It's a bit pricey but if you see only a few movies a year, do movies this way. Plush seats that recline, drinks (full bar) and snacks (e.g. lobster rolls) brought to your seat to name a few of the niceties of the experience. Need something during the movie, there is a little call button you can use to summon a waiter. The best part was there are only 40 seats or so and every seat is a good one. There was no head to look around. Ahh, that's an experience.

1 comment:

  1. we saw avatar too. i liked the tech, but again, weak plot. boring, predictable. bad guy sounded just like bush. wow. how convenient.


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