Pocahontas of the Southern Hemisphere
This comment is on the IMAX 3d version.
There aren’t many stories, are there? There are not many good storytellers either. Nor, it turns out, many filmmakers who can make even moderately big movies with a single governing imagination. That is the first quality I will report of this: that a single mind governed the creation and dynamics of this world and how we see it. The second quality is the experience of realism in the artificial faces. Both of those are reported by others well enough.
What really impressed me was how deeply the philosophy of WETA has penetrated grand filmmaking. They did the world. Now, the world by itself would be remarkable. But Cameron clearly wanted the dimensionality of “King Kong“ writ large. The thing is dimensional. The camera is placed in positions that no physical camera could; it moves in ways that are distinctly alien in the alien sections of the movie; the sequence of surrounding shots in a scene, particularly an action scene, is more than double what you normally would get and surrounds. The way it surrounds is taken from what WETA did with “Van Helsing:” the movements are those you see in the flight movements of the flying dragons. So they are of the movie and in the thing as well.
There is, therefore, a distinctly Australia-New Zealand flavor to this.
That isn’t the only nontraditional self-referential bit. Cameron loves these. We have the filmmaker to the film as the same as the otherworld immersion set up and controlled by Weaver’s character. And indeed she reports that she modeled her character on Cameron. The bit about the forest as a neuronal net is not entirely unlike what visionaries in the computer graphics world talk about having in the future.
A significantly unsettling element is the weaponry. Somebody boot ILM out of the game. It is really likely that a future that can master space travel and DNA remoting is likely to rely on Viet Nam era things-that-shoot? The only reason they are there is so that for the final battle we can have traditional cinematic shootouts overlain on our by then well established dimensional reality. And gosh, have we had enough already of the enhancer suits? Though I cheered and cried with the crowd, I wish I could have left feeling that love story was unpolluted by the ordinary.
One thing that I will predict. I trace the use of orreries and global machines in films, because it affects the vocabulary we can use in how we grow the cosmologies behind noir. Here we have the trees. One is huge and helical, a home to a population. It is downed like the World Trade towers by a guy out of central casting that in other theaters we are cheering because he is blowing up terrorists. Here he says he is fighting terror preemptively with terror.
The second tree — the tree of souls — is not rendered well visually. But the idea is an amazing advance in film scriptology. It moved me as the guiding principle behind the inevitable love. That it collected the soul of Cameron’s avatar was a bit delicious.
Posted in 2009
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.