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Avatar 3D

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Uhura from Star Trek, the conflicted Terminator from Salvation and a host of characters that even special glasses can't make three-dimensional.

Rated: 12A.

Story: 150 years in the future, a paraplegic ex-marine gets the chance to go to the planet of Pandora and try to convince the 'primitive' indigenous people to quietly move out of the way of the human mining corporation that wants to plough up their home. Instead of talking to them in person, he remotely controls a specially-grown alien body. This is supposed to help gain their trust but, unsurprisingly, just freaks them out. To compensate, he has to study their ways and customs, ride a flying lizard and learn to hug trees.

Yep, it's Dances with Wolves in space...

Comments: Hooray, I finally dragged myself out of the house and made it to the cinema to see Avatar. Was it worth getting snowed on and then having to cough up £9.10?

Erm... Sort of.

It's certainly visually spectacular with plenty of action, explosions and impossible scenery. (Floating mountains, anyone?) The plot, however, is very predictable and the characterisation is paper thin. This would be OK if the film was a frantic ninety minute adventure but it's over an hour longer than that. A message that's blatantly 'Corporations = bad, Army = bad, Indigenous people = wise and strong and wonderful' might have been a revelation once upon a time. These days, the absence of any shades of grey feels almost dishonest.

The 3D effect is very different from the limited amount I've seen previously. Toy Story often takes place on distinct 2D planes whereas Avatar has proper depth to objects. There's also no noticeable blurring in fast-moving sequences. Bizarrely, though, there's a lot of distracting fuzziness in static scenes. The makers have gone with a depth-of-field effect so that only items at a particular distance are in focus - stuff much closer or further away is blurred. This is more relaxing on the eye than having everything in focus at once and works great in the action scenes where attention is automatically drawn to the excitement. It's not so good when people are simply standing around talking - it's easy to end up glancing elsewhere and become distracted by fuzz.

Avatar has been very successful but that's probably more down to good timing than anything else. It's the first major 3D release that isn't an animation aimed primarily at children. As such, watching it results in a certain amount of wide-eyed wonder. Having said that, I'm still not sold on 3D. Seeing it in 2D would have been different but I suspect equally enjoyable.

Is it worth rushing to catch it at the cinema while it's still on in 3D? Not desperately. DVD would be fine. Despite the flaws, 3D is unlikely to go away and, in another year or two, we'll be inundated with films that exploit the technology better and also have a decent script. Save some cash for then.

Conclusion: Not a patch on Titanic.

Explosions: Loads.
Big, blue aliens: Loads.
Monsters with sharp teeth: Loads.
Convincing lines of dialogue: Not so many.
Times I jumped 'cos I thought something was going to hit me in the head: One
Times I had to hit myself in the head at the dumbness of it all: Three or four.

Rating: 3/5.


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