Avatar in IMAX 3D

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar in IMAX 3D

Updated 12/23/2009 – 01:25 pm

James Cameron's much anticipated follow-up feature to 1997's "Titanic," opened today and my wife, bless her!, commanded that we head to the nearest imax screen to see it.

It's an event, it's spectacle, and a Friday night flick is almost a family tradition.

Avatar art

Estimated opening weekend grosses range from $50 million to $80 million given the "buzz," and those who went with the lower figure are factoring in the possi­bility of the Northeast's first big snowfall of the Winter.

Well, the Loews Stony Brook got our $32.50 today... including the $4.50 advanced-ticketing "convenience charge" on-line earlier today! But based solely on the capacity of the 7:00 pm show, the movie will do well, but won't set any opening weekend records1.

What we got going in were sturdy plastic 3D glasses2... which were collected back from us 160 minutes later on the way out.

(All the way home I wondered what was done to sanitize the glasses between shows... if there's a big uptick in illness reported next week, we'll know the answer!)

On the mighty imax screen the visual part was spectacular! Part live action but more than half skillfully computer-generated, many viewers will, like me, spend much of the film with their jaws sagging in awe, it's so stunning.

(If this had come out 40 years ago, the '60s would have lasted through the Reagan administration.)

The narrative, on the other hand, is mainly re­cycled, hypocritical Hollywood-Lib claptrap3: nature good, military bad, big business even worse! This is especially galling in a film that cost over $300 million4 to make, and is being marketed at a cost of another $150 million.

And given the hyper-tech style of the movie, it's hard to single out any of the performances.

But Sigourney Weaver still looks great at 60, and Stephen Lang5 is impressive in the role of what was known in the old Saturday afternoon serials as the "hatchet-heavy." (Giovanni Ribisi is suitably slimy and insensitively evil as the "brains heavy.")

Cameron, who also wrote the screenplay, seems to have run out of steam along the way, recycling a character from his 1986 "Aliens." Then it was Jenette Goldstein's tough Marine "Private Vasquez;" here it's Michelle Rodriguez as tough Marine "Trudy Chacon."

What I especially enjoyed was the name Cam­eron devised for the critical mineral found only on Pandora, moon of the planet Polyphemus6, 4.3 light years distant: "Unobtanium."

What a perfect name for the unique element felt to be the only hope to save Earth from its present energy crisis.

Walt Disney's Comics of yore

It took me back almost 60 years to a serialized story in Walt Disney's Comics in which "Mickey Mouse" was battling his arch enemy "Black Pete" over the rare "Invisiblium," an element whose properties caused... wait for it... invisibility!

And who wouldn't want to have the ability to be invisible!

The notion set me on a decade-long quest to track down all the "Invisible Man" movies!

Now that continuing narrative ran in the comic book more than four years before Cameron was born, but I had to wonder if he had run across it somewhere.

Alas, my Google-foo revealed that "Unobtan­ium" has been around longer than Cameron, and has taken on such a generic quality that it has it's own Wikipedia entry!


  1. It came close: after numerous cookings of the box office books, 20th Century Fox finally settled on an opening weekend gross of just over $77 million.
  2. Instead of the flimsy cardboard/cello­phane variety.
  3. This was noted by others as well.
  4. The bulk of which sum was spent in Great Britain and New Zealand.
  5. With "Public Enemies" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," this is Lang's third major film this year. He may best be remembered as the pusillanimous but pragmatic "Ike Clanton" in "Tombstone."
  6. The name "Polyphemus" was of the giant cyclops Odysseus blinded in the celebra­ted Homeric tale.


1. HighHatSize said...

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson. Footnote transposition.

Coding corrected! Thank you.

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