Many a writer, reviewer or journalist must feel like they just had three helpings of Thanksgiving dinner after eating a smorgasbord full of crow following the first screenings of James Cameron's "Avatar" yesterday. This prognosticator is certainly one of them and boy, after all those carbs it's time to hit the treadmill (who knew birds were so fattening?).
Over at 20th Century Fox's Century City lot executives and no doubt Cameron himself must be breathing a big sigh of relief and rejoicing over what should be a monster take at the box office. Yes, those concerns over the pricey "Avatar" never breaking even will be distant memories soon. And an intriguing awards season awaits (you may want to shush that sequel talk for awhile Mr. Cameron, that won't go over well with Academy voters).
HitFix's own Drew McWeeny is waxing over his own review as he travels across the country. In the meantime, here's a sampling from some of the first round of critiques across the web.
David Poland, Movie City News:
"Simply, the hype is true. You've never seen anything like it before"
"As with Titanic, there is an energy rollercoaster in this 2 hour, 43 minute movie. But Cameron is who he is because he is the ultimate master of the third act. Whatever you have experienced up until then, the third act of Avatar will grab you by the heart and balls, yank hard, and not let go until you are dismissed… AVATAR… Written and Directed by James Cameron." More
Kris Tapley, In Contention:
"Wait, let me not undersell that. This is the most amazing cinematic experience I’ve ever had. There are, admittedly, story elements that give one pause. The film isn’t total perfection (though I’d argue this is a very mature, thematically beautiful screenplay from James Cameron). The filmmaker can’t help himself in a number of instances that are too on the nose." More
Todd McCarthy, Variety:
"the picture is a triumph; it's all of a piece, in no way looking like a vague mish-mash of live-action, CGI backdrops, animation, performance capture and post-production effects. On top of that, the 3D is agreeably unemphatic, drawing the viewer into the action without calling attention to itself. The third dimension functions as an enhancement, not a raison d'être, so the film will look perfectly fine without it." More
Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood:
"The central section of the movie, as Sully becomes a warrior and falls in love with Neytiri, is sheer magic. Cameron sweeps you into deep canyons on the back of the swooping banshees, past “floating” mountains and cascading waterfalls. This would have been impossible to do with any existing technology and yes, Cameron has changed the game, yet again, and has reset the cinema standard that must now be met." More
S.T. Vanarsdale, Movieline:
"Listen, there’s really no other way to put this: Avatar is the most extraordinary visual accomplishment I’ve ever seen in a movie theater. At the same time, it’s the most forgettable visual accomplishment I’ve ever seen in a movie theater. To the degree Cameron has revolutionized motion-capture, art direction and camera movement here — literally creating Pandora from scratch in his computer — the achievement is simply too much to process. He (and the studio, of course) will naturally tell you to watch it again, and if you have the time and inclination to spend three more hours going through it, be my guest. I don’t. It will influence technicians for generations — and viewers for about a weekend. Which may be enough." More
Todd Gilchrist, Cinematical:
"Indeed, it's Cameron's conception of a world interconnected via nature that resonates the most strongly, not because it's touchy-feely or otherwise simplistic, but because it's a promising (although sometimes underdeveloped) examination of the one in which we already live. The Na'vi celebrate and literally connect with the other creatures on Pandora, and there's an exhilarating discovery for audiences of the way these warrior clans utilize and acknowledge the plant and animal-based resources of the planet; that Cameron adds a tendril-like ponytail for the natives to literally connect to their conquests and even completely ignored their "gods" or ancestors may seem excessive, but it allows for an appreciation of the respect earned and shared between the various creatures that, quite frankly, is never dealt with or even actively ignored by other filmmakers operating on Cameron's level of spectacle." More
For a snapshot at "Avatar's" increasingly strong Oscar prospects, click here. Look for more coverage on "Avatar" as it develops on Awards Campaign and HitFix.
"Avatar" opens nationwide in traditional theaters, 3-D theaters and on IMAX 3-D on Dec. 18.
As the season heats up, look for breaking awards season news and commentary daily on Awards Campaign. For the latest, follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.