Ryan and I went to see it this evening. Let me break it down into a few parts, okay?
The 3D. Cameron promised three-dimensional imagery like we’ve never seen in a movie. I think he delivered. It’s not perfect, however. The technology isn’t there yet. When it’s good, it is very good, but the images show artifacts often enough that you’re rarely entirely immersed. Another issue with the 3D is that it’s shot like a conventional 2D film. I believe 3D needs a different shooting style, but no one really knows how. Not yet.
The CGI. An incredibly large part of the visuals are computer generated. It’s better than we’ve ever seen, but the aliens still look plastic or rubber to me, most of the time.
Last, and certainly least, is the story. It was awful. Cameron had all kinds of technology to show us when someone in the back piped up and said, “But James, what story are you going to tell with all that visual finery? We need a story!” Based on the movie I saw this evening, Cameron must have fired the guy. As I said to Ryan after the film, it simply reminds me that there’s nothing new under the sun. There’s just too much in the mix … too many themes, none subtle, and we’ve seen them all before. There’s no room for a good story with interesting characters. No time for characters that we can genuinely care about, and that’s saying something for a 168 minute picture. So to get us to feel something, the film cheats and tries to shamelessly manipulate our emotions, and it doesn’t work in any meaningful way. It’s just tiresome.
Think of the film as a $300 million technological proof of concept. If you know this going in, you may enjoy it for what it is.
Marquee poster ©2009 Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation