Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Judging from the attendance in the theater, Renee and I were two of the last in America to see it.

Everyone's weighed in on this movie. Most people love it. Some people are too sad it ended. One guy died.

I'm not as in love with it. It's a film that's incredibly well crafted, taking a giant leap from where Lucas left off technologically. Nobody does big like Cameron. That man takes incredible financial risks every time out of the gate and pays it off every time. He's got a track record a gambler would envy.

And yet, much of this movie feels like a remake of his Aliens . We have the scumbag corporation in space, screwing over the lower guys on the ladder. We have the gung-ho two-dimensional military. We have the power loader. We have the out of control alien animal life. We have the drop ship. We have Sigourney Weaver.

But when you look at Aliens today you realize it's not a high budget film. This is. The amount of detail on the screen is stunning. Every pixel on screen looks agonizingly worked over. I was in the middle of five minute flight scene before I noticed the complex system of the wings.

The 3D only enhances that effect. Instead of looking for novel ways to throw objects from the screen at us (like the ludicrous Piranha 3D trailer)Cameron found techniques to make the screen deeper. The viewing planes pull away, so you want climb in the screen and explore this deep, new world.

Yet, emotionally it feels hollow. The plot hits the Hero's Journey/ Mutiny on the Bounty riffs with a clang. And we don't get a chance to identify with any character too deeply. There's too much happening (for a two and a half film, something new happens every two minutes). We don't get enough time with any character in live action to project them onto the cg versions. The animation is superb but it always feels like animation. At its best, scenes play like actors in masks.

Oh, and James Cameron still loves the color blue. 25 years of blue films. Congratulations, Cameron!

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