I’ve not read it, but it has a pretty damn big fan base, so…
I’ve not read it, but it has a pretty damn big fan base, so…
Yeah, yeah…I know: oh, those crazy people! But this is as believable (or more so) a premise as the “Christian reactionaries enslave Britain” premise of V For Vendetta. So for you libertarian or conservative-leaning readers:
Loving this future Moscow.
Everything you’ve heard is true: it’s gorgeous to look at, it’s even engaging for the first half or so. The story is old hat. So, what to add..?
First, if you’re going to bother to go see it, see it in 3D. Instead of using it as a gimmick (oh, they’re shooting an arrow right at you!) Cameron uses it to create stunning depth of field. You don’t feel like the image is a series of plates working on top of each other; the effects make you feel like the screen is more of a window, than a field for images. One of the tricks they use to do this is to put insects, or bits of dust, ash, or what have you floating in the foreground. It works well — there were several times I would have sworn one of these object drifted off the screen. I didn’t notice any headaches, like I’ve heard some have gotten, but did feel like my left eye drifted out of focus a few times.
It works to pull you into the world Cameron is creating. Pandora is stunningly beautiful, and I particularly liked the Roger Dean-esque floating mountains. The flora and fauna is well thought out and well-designed. However, I noted all the animals other than the natives in the piece (the Na’vi), were sextupeds — six limbs, usually four eyes, and breathing gills int he chest area. The Na’vi are blatantly humanoid (most likely to make the love story work…it’s hard to get worked up about a love story between giant slugs, say.)
Following on that, the military technology is superbly thought out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something like the movable displays on the gunships show up in the next iteration of military aircraft. The craft — from the helicopters, to the shuttles, to the combat exos — are well thought out, completely believable, and uber-cool. The super-helo they’re using in the combat sequences has design elements that are obviously cribbed from Aliens. (I haven’t bothered to check, but I would suspect the gear is courtesy of the same design shop on that movie.)
The performances are adequate, with Stephen Lang doing the best job, in my opinion. His Colonel Quaritch is undeniably a “bad ass” characature, but the actor makes him believable. Part of the problem is the actors are emoting through the CGI characters, as well as having to work around the weak dialogue.
The story is old hat. Evil corporate interests, supported by their mercenary army, are mining an unfortunately named “unobtanium” on Pandora, and those darned natives are sitting on the biggest deposit. The unobtanium doesn’t appear to have a direct connection to the floating mountains (but should have!) It’s not far fetched, this conflict, by any means. But considering how touchy-feely many corporations are nowadays, I would expect that the PR nightmare of wiping out an indigenous species would not go over well.
The movie covers that, fortunately. The company tried to educate the natives, provide them with medicines…all for naught. They’re out of patience. Colonel Quatrich, at this point, pushes the military option, leading to the big battle.
The hero, or course goes native. This is the classic guilty white dude saved the natives theme that’s been floating around since the action stories of the 19th Century. He falls for the hot chieftain’s daughter and after learning their ways, goes native. He leads the ten-foot tall Na’vi against the human interlopers, with bows and arrows….not likely. The final victory of the na’vi is about as likely as that of the teddy bears on Endor. (Yes, I know they’re called Ewoks.)
There’s a lot to like about the movie. The visuals are an experience! The gadgets and sci-fi trappings are fascinating. The story is hackneyed and predictable, and the characters are a bit flat. Overall, however, it was worth at least one go ’round in the theater; it will lose a lot in translation to small screen. See it in 3D, if you do.
I’ve finally had the chance to view The Prisoner on my DVR last night. The six-hour miniseries was an update of the original 1960s television series by Patrick MacGoohan. The original was a product of its time: paranoid, overly dramatic (Pat…the microphone’s two feet above you, man!), and psychedelic, as you might expect for the time it was made. Canceled after 17 episodes, the series ended with a WTF episode that’s been analyzed by fans since.
The original series revolved around a spy quitting the service for reasons never disclosed. He is drugged and wakes up in a fairy-tale village in an unknown location and the rest of the series revolves around the attempts to find out why he resigned his job. It’s a spy series, mashed up with science-fiction.
AMC decided to take a crack at bringing The Prisoner into the modern day. The Welsh seaside resort of Portmeirion that had been the set piece for the original is replaced with a very stylish locale in the desert. This is the high point in the series — it is absolutely beautiful. The desert is shot lovingly, and the Village feels like a real place, not a set piece, just as Portmeirion did. It should…in many ways, the Village is a character itself, much as Enterprise in Star Trek, or Babylon 5 was in the eponymous series.
The cast is solid: Ian MacKellen takes over the role of 2 — the manager/dictator of the Village. He is easily the strongest part of this new production. He brings menace, partly due to the character realizing that his methods are wrong, but necessary for the common good. The lead character, 6, is played by Jim Caviezel who is not bad in the role, but brings a much more bland flavor to the role. He just doesn’t feel important enough to warrant the amount of time 2 puts into breaking him. This is partly the fault of the writing — 6 in this is not a master spy, he’s an analyst with a skill for pattern recognition who realizes that his company is involved in some shady dealings.
The rest of the main players are Ruth Wilson, who is quite good and possibly, after 2, the most engaging character. Lenny James from Snatch and Jericho is a cab driver and friend of 6 in the series, and why no one has thought to make this guy a lead in something is beyond me.
The main storyline is not bad. The Village is more of a consensual hallucination of the people there. Their conscious minds are going about their business in the real world, but their quasi-conscious minds are trapped in the Village. The purpose of this is not the repository for spies and other persons of interest that it was in the original series; the Village is a sort of experimental therapy for “damaged people.” Good idea, poor execution.
The first night was, for me, interesting enough to keep me watching. The cinematography was pretty, and the differences between the original and the miniseries kept me involved. The second episode almost undid all of that. The last half hour, particularly, was edited badly, with a lot of “classy” cuts back and forth to give the sequence a more “trippy” feeling. Instead, you find yourself wondering what the hell is going on, and not in the enjoyable “whoa, this is trippy” sort of way. The final night moves quickly to wrap up the story, and some of the ideas presented would have been great, had the writing and pacing been better. This was the main issue with The Prisoner — it’s slooooow. The pacing is not quite soporific, but unless you had a real interest in seeing a new take on the old show, it’s probably not worth your time.
Style: 4 out of 5, Substance: 2.5 out of 5.