Avatar vs Invictus
Been a long while since I’ve been to the movies and in the last few days I’ve seen two.
Normally I’m pretty skeptical when people rave on and on about movies… rarely does one ever match up to the level of expectation that people set. For me, Avatar delivers, and in a big way.
I like movies a lot, good ones any way, and the good ones stick with me. It’s no surprise then when one movie evokes scenes and stories from another to me. The plot of Avatar is a simple one (you can’t get all this from the trailers.. no spoilers here)… A man is called in to run an avatar, a physical body that looks like the people they’re trying to infiltrate. They have something the humans want and the humans want them to move. Ah, but complications arise. The plot reminded me a lot of Dances With Wolves. The outsider joins the tribe, grows a respect and love for their ways and ultimately takes their side against threats.
Visually there were many scenes that evoked memories from Lord of the Rings… the thunder of horses riding through the forest, the ride to outlying clans to raise support, and the Boromir’s demise find echos in Avatar.
The real star of the movie is the CGI. To me it seemed seamless, the shots between what was physical and what was computer generated. Only once, when a character jumps from a low spot to a high spot, did gravity seem wrong. Everything else… the way the characters moved, jumped, ran, flew seemed very naturalistic. The Na’vi world seemed very much a real and intriguing place.
Watching the movie, I could tell Cameron had done his homework. He didn’t just write a story. Before the story was written, the social customs of the Na’vi were fleshed out. The hierarchies, the history, the religion.. all feel well thought out and cohesive.
I highly recommend this movie and will surely pick up the BluRay version when it comes out. Oh.. and watch for Cameron’s ideas on ecology, pan theism, corporate morals and the Bush doctrine.
I also saw Invictus, the movie on Nelson Mandela’s attempt to unite his country through love of sport. I decided that watching Invictus was like eating at Twin Palms Restaurant. You leave thinking you’ve just had a great meal. Then, as time passes, you think of it some more and realize you’ve just had shrimp and risotto and a couple bites of dessert. Invictus is the same way.
Morgan Freeman does a great Mandela but Matt Damon’s Pinaar seems under utilized. Clint Eastwood, of course, does a great job of actually telling the story. I think he could make a description of how they make bread interesting, but I wish he had done more with Francois Pinaar. He’d already taken some liberties with actual history… a little injection of actual inspirational leadership might have been a welcome addition. Pinaar seems less the transformative leader and he does the transformed one.
My take… if you like Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon or “Remember the Titans” you’ll like this movie. Otherwise, wait til it’s on Netflix.