I've been mulling over Avatar a lot in the last day since I saw the World Première and reviewed it, and also looking at others comments about the film, and I'm rather surprised by some of the reactions. Some reviewers have been picking out that the story has been seen before and bundling this as a big negative.
Now that bothers me, because it signals one of two things. Either the person watching the film has lost their love of cinema so much that they now can only see the individual component parts and no longer take joy in the entire experience, or that they're trying to find something to be controversial about and different so that they can attract hits to their sites.
I really can't think of any other reasons. Okay, maybe the genuinely hated the film because of the dialogue or the story, but I don't buy that, after all, as an entire film, it is unbelievably stunning.
Now before people start leaping at me about their reviews, let me get something clear, and do read this before you leap on the comments are start shouting. There are reviewers who are saying this, like Todd at Twitch, and coming away with an excellent review. He does say the story has been seen before, but the film is amazing. That's not what I'm talking about. After all I said the same thing, although I didn't stress it and write it as well as Todd did.
No, I'm talking about the people who are hating the film because of these aspects.
So the story has been seen before. Have you watched a Hollywood film in the last few years? They all have. There are few imaginative new stories coming out of cinema full stop, and for something along those lines you have to look to non-mainstream, independent, and almost always non-US films to see that kind of movie.
Just about every film is something else redone in some way. I'm not talking remake, but the core of all the stories have really been told before. The magic now is in the way its told, the way its presented, and the subtleties around the core of the story.
It's here where James Cameron excels. It's in the emotional core, the bringing to the fore of the characters and the relationships, the way he makes you believe and feel in these characters and their story despite them being motion captured and CG, and all the other potentially negative aspects you can think of.
In a way I think this is a greater achievement than anything else. Making the audience believe in a story that we've seen before, and all the while putting all these new barriers and technological hurdles to get past.
I'm not a blinded Cameron fan by the way, I wasn't a fan of Titanic at all, for me that story was too in your face emotionally and I didn't really care a jot for the characters or their story, I was more interested in the ship's story.
However he's drawn me right back in with Avatar, and he's done that despite the fact that up until now I've hated 3D, it gets in the way of the film and telling of a story, and I've disliked motion capture, there's been no point, let the actors act and don't use sub-standard reality CG to try and make them almost real when putting them in front of the camera, on location, with wardrobe, would make them real.
Despite all that, he made me believe in this story and the characters, and that's a huge achievement in itself.
If you isolate the story you may well think that you've heard it or read it before, but when you see what Cameron, the actors, and the teams behind the film have done with it, it becomes something much, much more.
This isn't about the component parts, it's about the use of them, the layering and building of them to create an amazing film experience, and it does.
You can read my spoiler free Avatar review right here on Filmstalker.