It has been a bit over 48 hours since I have seen a movie that totally renewed my enthusiasm and hope for film making.
I might first mention I am the type of person that will go out on a limb to find inspiration. I manage to find magic in the smallest of things, it is what one must do to stay creative and keep a sense of motivation in the hardest of times. Most films I enjoy, my dearest friends and family do not. Avatar was a welcome exception, the release also happened to be on my birthday of all days, leading me to be able to convince 35 dear friends and family to go see the flick. To my pleasure, not one of them was disappointed, and a few announced it was their favorite movie of all time. I was quick to agree in theater, but things have digested and I have come to decide to put this film in my top 5 all time, and favorite of the year (we have had some good ones in 2009).
Avatar regrettably isn't the most unique flavor, nor has it any sort of depth in character development. Its visual effects and creative vision however allow for a quick buy-in to characters that are close enough to human for an audience to become quickly attached. I have watched every major VFX blockbuster and 3D animated film since the time of Final Fantasy the Spirits within; Avatar ladies and gentlemen was worth the long wait.
There have been more failures in our craft than successes. It is possible to pick apart so much on a big screen when a story requires a near-human actor to both perform believably and to evoke a sense of empathy and relativism in an audience. Avatar manages to make you forget what you are watching is even CG (a most crucial ingredient it seems). There are some major undertones in the film that may get preachy, even pushed upon some, but they are all messages that should be re-visited. Some lessons from the past we may have forgotten, and others that dread upon us now are at the root of the film, yet any type of audience can see the questions and dilemmas this story attempts to address in a new yet flashy way.
Outside the story and the character development flaws comes the experience of watching Avatar. Even with the highest of expectations going into the film, a critical eye, and past let-downs fresh in my mind, I forgot the 'critic' within almost instantly and remembered how it felt and what is was like to watch something as a child again. The magic of watching someone run for the first time that can't walk, or master a beast and fly around a world so distant from our own left me in such wonderment and awe. This was an experience I can relate to only a few times in my life, and I get goose bumps even now while recalling this experience; something I will treasure for some time to come.
Even now the film seems like a dream. It sounds funny to put something up so high on a pedestal, but even outside of the production, storyline, characters, and visual effects this film, a huge undertaking of technology, passion, and creativity is a simple promise to creatives like myself that the magic is back. It may have never left, and for me that is way more than enough to keep me looking for and creating the next best story wherever it can be found.
I wholeheartedly recommend you go see Avatar in IMAX 3D, you are in for one hell of a ride. You know I will.