The difference here is that THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you haven't yet seen the movie, read the post below and save this one for later.
So I watched Avatar again in 3D today, and I have to say, this is the way to view it. Seriously, I am against the idea of 3D movies in general (or was until today), but Avatar has not been dealt with as a gimmick. The 3D here is simply immersive.
Anyway, 3D aside (I do believe this movie is best experienced this way), my second viewing did not change my view of the movie but it reminded me of a few things I wanted to address previously.
- The score grinds in the second half. The music isn't inherently bad, but it is very poorly chosen, especially during the big confrontation. What I liked was that shots of the Na'vi at the beginning of this sequence were accompanied by epic battle music (though it did sound suspiciously like it came from the Pirates of the Caribbean scores) while the accompaniment for the humans was more dark and military. The problem came when the animals came to save the day: gallant, heroic music as you have heard it in god knows how many children's Disney films.
- Speaking of music, Gladiator started a trend (and did it well) which has since been improperly ripped off by virtually every single movie to come out of hollywood: the 'Arabian vocal death'. Someone gets shot / stabbed / exploded / dies of aids, and the next five minutes feature muted sound effects (if any), echoed dialogue (if any), and soft, sad string music accompanied by a [insert exotic ethnicity here] woman warbling her guts out. As if it weren't bad enough that James Cameron's composer had stooped to this (and that Cameron allowed it), it happens THREE TIMES during the film.
- The walkers don't look -quite- as bad as I remembered, until the animals start bowling them over. They are prime targets of one of my ultimate pet hates in CGI, "faux-tion blur". There is a certain point beyond which motion blur looks fake. Is it just me or do they actually crank it up beyond realism for these movies?
- The bitch in the helicopter is just annoying. She thinks she's so badass and she's not. I hate characters like that and I was relieved when she died.
- I realise that my favourite Na'vi are the scientist ones. Grace's avatar actually looks like Sigourney Weaver back when she was young, which is all kinds of creepy, in a cool way. Norm also has some incredible facial acting, and in his human clothes he looks like a dork trapped in a killing machine's body. The juxtaposition is brilliant.
- I should point out that Pandora as a CGI environment is stunning. This is at least one area in which CGI has truly excelled in recent years. As my friend David pointed out, keep your eyes on the grass when the choppers land - that's all computer generated.
- The turning point for the quality of the plot, I think, was about when Grace shouted "murderer" as the Great Tree began to fall. From that point on, every character is jolted from a latticework of complex motivations and desires to either "I am a nature-loving hippy and we are raping our Mother Earth" to "damn blue monkey bastards, let's kill them all and make some cash". At this point I was really disappointed at how brutal the message of the film was, considering how subtley it began and how long they kept this going for.