A new year has arrived and with it, subject to debate, a new decade. May it bring you all good things and unwind all your recessionary tangles. I don’t have the resolve to keep up new year resolutions and the end result is a feeling of failure rather than achievement. However, we have promised to see more movies this year, so to avoid this being a doomed New Year Resolution, we started this week. We love going to the movies. We favour the grey power sessions – afternoon showings that come without giggles, texting or popcorn (god, don’t you hate the smell of that stuff?). We occasionally pay the price of loudly whispered elderly commentary, but on the whole the patrons are quiet and courteous and the cinemas mainly empty – we’ve even had an entire cinema to ourselves on occasion. There’s no expectation of that sort of peace during the holidays, but sometimes you just can’t wait round for the silent season. So we went to see Avatar on Wednesday – and this is the point of this post.
Make a new year resolution: See Avatar.
I scoffed when I read blurbs about this being a new level in cinema, but it’s no exaggeration. Simple and formulaic the story may be, but the execution is so brilliant that you won’t really notice until you’ve left the theatre. And, as the writers of children’s stories know well, a formula carries a strong pull. You sort of know what should happen – but will it? Will there be the satisfaction of a familiar resolution? Will the bad guys get it in spades? Will the star-crossed lovers end up together? And how are they going to get out of this mess? Actually, with animation like this, you could film the telephone book and make it riveting. It is lush and extraordinary, a visual feast that sucks you into a different world and allows the willing suspension of disbelief that is essential to real movie-going satisfaction. I suspect the last time there was this sort of leap in technical achievement on screen was when Disney brought out Fantasia. Our movies guru advised against viewing Avatar in the Imax. Too overwhelming for tender souls like ourselves, he thought. Possibly, the first time. But I loved Dark Knight in the Imax – now I can’t wait for a vertiginous couple of hours of 3-D on the giant screen.