“Avatar” and “The Road”
I have looked into the future from the point of view of two movies, “Avatar” and “The Road.” “Avatar” is playing in three different 3D formats, where special glasses are required to see the 3D effect. “Avatar” can also be seen in 2D, like any other movie. Being an intrepid film critic I went to see “Avatar” in what I considered to be the ultimate experience, IMAX 3D, at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square Theatre.
IMAX by itself is great but adding 3D combined with “Avatar’s” cutting edge technology really brought me into this strange new world of 2929 on the planet Pandora. Visually “Avatar” is spectacular and did not disappoint in that regard. Its non-stop effects tell and enhance the story, which is exactly what effects should do.
In terms of story though I have reservations. Science fiction, set in the future, is usually about the present. As a result “Avatar” makes barely veiled references to the Iraq War, the depletion of the Amazon rain forest, corporate greed and imperialism. The basic story of “Avatar” though has been told many times before. Someone enters a new culture and their point of view changes. I ticked off the titles: “Dances with Wolves,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “A Man Called Horse.” Granted a sci-fi take on the concept is a good idea but story-wise I was way ahead of it and felt “Avatar” was a bit long for what it is. So, a pretty good story with striking effects definitely to be seen in 3D.
“The Road” is well made and acted but relentlessly bleak. It is set in a post apocalyptic world where a father and son have to keep moving for survival. Along the way they meet marauding gangs, cannibals and have one horrible experience after another, all realistically rendered. The father is determined to survive. He tells the son that they are the good guys. As the stress of the situation takes its toll the father resorts to actions that make the son question whether his father really is a good guy. The idea is an interesting one that the film presents but with which it does little. For what purpose “The Road” was made I am not sure. “The Road” is playing locally at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema.
“Avatar,” director James Cameron,Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 162 minutes, rated PG-13
“The Road,” director John Hillcoat, Dimension Films, 111 minutes, rated R