Monday, April 19, 2010

Avatar Revisited

When I originally reviewed Avatar (way back in Irreviews, 2010: Issue II), I mentioned that I wanted to see it again to determine if its awe-inspiration and story hold up under further scrutiny. Left unsaid (or unwritten, rather) was that I wanted to see if it could make its way onto my personal "All-Time Great Movies" list.

Well, I've seen it two more times since, and I have my answers.

First of all, yes, the awe-inspiration holds up. While many of the 3D sequences did lose some effect, the flying sequences (particularly the initial ikran/banshee scene) remains as breathtaking and wondrous as they were the first time I saw it. That it does so is even more meaningful (to me, anyway) in that I saw the film for the third time the day after I saw How to Train Your Dragon (another great 3D film, and great film in general, but I'll talk about that one in the next Irreviews). I simply can't say enough about how fantastic Avatar looks.

Moving on to the story. There are many, many films whose stories are "worse" upon subsequent viewings, and there are many, many films whose stories are "better." Whether this is from an inherent ability to notice more during a second look or the phenomenon of it "growing on you," I can't claim to know. But I do think Avatar's story offers quite a bit of depth that gets overlooked the first time one watches it. There are many subtle moments found in the protagonist's portrayal that I simply didn't see initially, and the same holds true for much of the so-called hidden commentary in the film. So, yes, the story does hold up and actually improves, in my opinion. Does this put the story in the same category as the stories from the films typically recognized as the greats? No. But it certainly speaks to Avatar's (and James Cameron's) competence in telling a story.

Still, while I do recognize Avatar as one of the most important films of all time, it does not make my "All-Time Great Movies" list (in which there are only seven films). It almost did, and I must admit that I wanted it to, but it doesn't. What it does do is change filmmaking forever. Regardless of your own personal opinion of the movie, that is an inarguable fact.


  1. I had the same feeling walking out of Avatar that i did when I first saw Star Wars many years ago, that it was groundbreaking technology and fantastic to look at. Sam Worthington's pretty fantastic to look at too!

  2. one of these days i will get around to seeing it...

  3. I wanted to see it when it came out and now I'm not so sure. That happens to a lot of films with me but after this review, maybe I'll get off my butt and watch it. I did finally see The Hurt Locker and thought it was a tight, well-made film.

  4. What are the seven films on your list? Also, if you have not read it yet, check out my essay about Avatar:

  5. Avatar is out in the dollar theatre now--2-D, and if the oportunity arises, i might check it is coming out on dvd and i wonder how well it do--as the vast majority of people do not have 3-D televisions; will that make a difference? Good movie--but for sure not 'best movie'--although best science fiction movie? Well, it ranks pretty high.

  6. I'll check out the DVD...the 3 D isn't due out til December.

  7. This makes me want to see it a second and third time ... I'm agreeing with you on not making the all time top movie list. I think mine have more to do with emotional blowout... and I'd have to knock one down to put up Avatar. -J


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