I liked it least.
To get one thing out of the way, right away: the 3D is amazing. We saw in RealD digital 3D. This is the third movie I've seen recently in 3D, after Bolt a year ago and then Up, and this was the first one where the movie just seemed made for 3D, where it was an integral thing making the movie something more than it was, and not just doing it for the visceral thrill of having stuff come at you. It's still not exactly comfortable to wear the RealD glasses over my real glasses, but it wasn't a huge bothersome thing, either. We were in one of the mid-sized screens at the theatre and not one of the much larger and bigger, but the glasses still provided some sense of panorama instead of making it too much like watching TV, which was something I hated very much about Imax 3D circa mid 1990s.
For all the exotic alien surroundings and languages and marvelous images and etc. etc., we managed to have one character telling another "at first I was only following orders, but then it really did become love that I was feeling for you, true real genuine love, and you have to understand that." That doesn't match the technology in the trailblazing department.
I can understand why Roger Ebert is quoted in the ads as saying, and in fact does say, that this gave him that Star Wars feeling all over again. Because the movie is kind of a mirror image of Star Wars. There are people attacking the Death Star, only this time the good guys are occupying the Death Star, and the bad guys are trying to get in their one good shot, and we're rooting for them to fail. Because this is a good Death Star. Kind of like how some other movie had a good witch and a bad witch, this is the good sacred hard-to-attack place that we cannot see destroyed.
All these gazillion dollars spent on the movie and they couldn't re-dub Sam Worthington's lines so he wouldn't lapse into an Australian accent. All the time. I mean, all the time. I don't know if I've seen another review to comment on this. I guess it must be different reviewers than were complaining in Season One of True Blood that the actors couldn't keep their accents, because those actors didn't have problems with their accents, while Sam Worthington is doing a Full Dundee constantly.
We all felt the movie seemed very, very long. This is one of those things where I don't quite understand why everyone I went to see the movie with professed to mostly love it, even as they all agreed it seemed long. Good movies don't seem long. I may have been a little more length sensitive than everyone else, because I was doing the Full ToeTapping every time Sam Worthington was doing his Full Dundee, and I was looking at my watch only constantly. But I'm sorry, great movies don't seem long while you're watching them, really and truly they don't.
Most of the characters ended up as archteypes if they didn't start out that way. No, cliches is probably a better word than archetypes. Bad military dudes, bad corporate dudes, valiant scientists.
The music annoyed me. I like staying for the end credits, listening to a John Williams put all his themes into 3:49 of good music over the end credits. Here, it was bad music, over credits that were put together so tightly that you couldn't really read them, and part of me was ready to bail before the credits were over because it totally wasn't doing anything for me.
We discussed afterward some of the various plot holes, though talking in the after-dinner event with a couple of Peter's friends, maybe many of those were covered in the dialogue. So perhaps it's not full of plot holes. But we could still see exactly what was going to happen when the film cuts back and forth from the struggling good guy to the struggling heroine who seemed down for the count, but guess what maybe she isn't and she'll get back into the game just in time to save the good guy's bacon. I'd say this is a spoiler, except anyone who's ever gone to a movie will see what's coming from several minutes away.
Part of me wants to go on trying to go into more detail on why I don't think this is a very good movie, but there's this other part of me that's already working overtime trying to forget I spent three hours of my life squirming and toe-tapping and waiting desperately for Avatar to end.
I'll close with a quote from Bull Durham:
Come on rook, shows us that million dollar arm, ’cause I got a pretty good idea about that 5 cent head of yours
Because Avatar's exactly that. It's got a five cent screenplay to go along with its million dollar arm, and I'm not going to give it a pass.
I will give higher marks to our dinner afterward. We stumbled/meandered our way from place to place near Lincoln Center with too long a line and then decided to head down 9th Avenue. We settled on a restaurant called Whym. The food was good, the desserts outstanding. Many restaurants have nice-sounding desserts that end up looking like they came from Sweet Street but I don't think I've had anything quite like their S'mores-wich, and the Apple Pie Spring Rolls were also quite good. In both instances I've seen items like on many many menus, but rarely with the execution. I'm tempted to go back right now and see how the Banana Cream Pie holds up. Definitely a place I would consider going back to. And reasonably close to the Random House building... Hmmm, maybe it's time to start trying for some more lunches with my friends at Random House.