My girlfriend kind of wanted to see Red Cliff during its two week run at the Ken Cinema. It didn’t look appealing to me. But a few of my movie buff friends were telling me how great it was, so I’m bummed I missed it.

Now there’s a Japanese film from 1950 playing there. It’s supposedly a classic. A friend and I went to see that, and I was bored to tears. It makes me sort of glad I let Red Cliff slip by.

I was pleasantly surprised by the DeNiro movie “Everybody’s Fine”. Sure, it’s predictable and you’ve seen most of these stories before. But it was a fun and emotional film.

On the predictable front…Avatar borrows from so many movies. There’s a little Jurassic Park here, a touch of District 9 there. A love story that is part Pocahontas; a save-the-environment story that’s part Dances with Wolves. And lots and lots of “Battle for Terra” in this.

I was at a party at James Cameron’s mansion in Malibu about a year ago. At one point he took a handful of us into his private movie theatre and showed clips of 3D films he made. I yelled out “Let’s see some Avatar.” He laughed and told me it was top secret.

Well, he’s been on every show pushing it now. Who can blame him? It’s the most expensive movie ever made.

And it’s worth every penny.

As much as it pained me to see that loser Michelle Rodriquez, she played her part well.

My favorite performance was from an actor I barely knew anything about – Stephen Lang – who played the war-happy Colonel.

Sure, the story is a bit cheesy at times. The script could’ve been tightened up.

But this is the best experience I’ve had at a movie in years. It reminded me of being a kid and seeing Star Wars in the theatre for the first time. And probably what it was like a few years before that when people saw 2001 in theatres; or King Kong going back to the 30s.

So, I can deal with one dimensional characters, when I’m seeing this 3D stuff that is simply amazing.

I would’ve been a guy working on the film that would’ve ruined it. I would’ve said to Cameron “Can’t we just have one of the aliens arrows come at the screen, to make the audience flinch?”

There’s none of that. But your jaw will drop to the floor at these visuals (watch out for the crushed Milk Duds and sticky soda that’s probably been there since the Clinton administration).

It baffles me that Hellboy II, which was an awful film, got 92% good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and this is in the low-80s; because even if you hated every bit of dialogue, or the storyline…the visuals alone make it worth it. And the story does work for me. I was into the romance between the lead characters; the story about a Marine that loses his legs and might get new ones, etc.

To call this film magical…is perhaps the best adjective I could think of. I’m sure the critics that didn’t like it will talk about how formula and pedestrian a few aspects of the script are. And I immediately think about how Forrest Gump only got about 75% good reviews from critics across the country.

I recently had a fight with a military friend that tried pushing the lame movie “Brothers” on everyone. I told her, and a few of my friends, to instead see “The Messenger.” I offered everyone a money back guarantee.

I would do the same with Avatar, but one theatre was charging $19 a ticket. Ouch!


redsoxfan Dec. 23, 2009 @ 11:49 p.m.

Wow, Josh....have to admit that after I saw it, I didn't think your reviews would be so nice? I immediately stated that I thought the movie was visually stunning..and I'm glad we agree on that...and the story too...hokey, pulled from others, been done before, predictable...whatever term you use, its there. But overall, I thought the movie was worth seeing. As little as I go to the theater, its nice to know that my money wasn't wasted on Avatar.


PistolPete Dec. 24, 2009 @ 12:30 a.m.

Avatar is more bulls for the sheeple. Baaaaaaaa! Baaaaaa! I'm a HUGE fan of Miami Vice. I saw the big screen version twice last year when it hit the theaters. The only reason I bothered to see it on the big screen was because I'm a fan of Michael Mann. Hollywood just flat out sucks right now. There hasn't been a movie advertised since Miami Vice that made me say, "OOOOOOOH! I HAVE to pay $40 to see that!!!". Overpriced and I can't smoke. F you and the horse you rode in on! I'm not so impatient that I can't wait for it to hit the Blockbuster 3 for $20 bargain bin in a year. I have a life and it doesn't include wasting time, money and energy to look like one of the cool kids...


Ponzi Dec. 24, 2009 @ 9:56 a.m.

Avatar is just putting the advanced animated computer gaming experience on a big screen for the masses. It seems spectacular now, but 3D will be commonplace in a few years.

Avatar is just selling the sizzle, not the steak.

Where have the real movies with real actors gone?


Josh Board Dec. 24, 2009 @ 10:26 a.m.

I don't buy that, Ponzi.

I thought when Tarantino did Pulp Fiction, that that would be the new way movies were made. Because, every storyline has been done before: the underdog athlete, boy meets girl/loses girl, etc. Yet, Pulp Fiction (even though someone recently bugged me about how anyone can like a director that "borrows" from so many other movies) was interesting because of the dialogue between the actors while doing these various crazy things (overdosing, killing someone, throwing a fight, etc). Yet, we saw a few similar style approaches in movies, but it didn't become the norm. And I don't think what we saw in Avatar will become the norm. It'll be too expensive, and not worth it. Especially when a movie like Paranormal Activity, can be made for $18,000 and make millions and millions.


PistolPete Dec. 24, 2009 @ 11:02 a.m.

Keep in mind that 3-D has been around since the 50's. It's more played out than an El Cajon whore. Hollywood has truly bitten the hand that's fed it and unfortunetely for the rest of humanity, the younger generation is too stupid to realize it.


Crissyst Dec. 25, 2009 @ 4:19 a.m.

Oh my PistolPete! ;-) I think one could be the most jaded movie mofo out there and Josh does a pretty accurate AND good review here, but I think this movie deserves to be seen by everyone in the proper 3D environment. And that's my nerdy opinion. ;-)


Josh Board Dec. 25, 2009 @ 10:12 a.m.

Pete, go see the movie and then comment.


KarenBP Dec. 26, 2009 @ 5:46 p.m.

i love that you piped up that way to Cameron. Touche'!


PistolPete Dec. 26, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

Whenever something is presented in 3-d, that's coded geekspeak for:This movie sucks donkey c*** and you should stay away.


Josh Board Dec. 26, 2009 @ 5:57 p.m.

This isn't 3D like that, Pete. It's not some cheesy thing that has asteroids hurling toward the screen, and you squirm in your seat.

Hey...I got a group of friends and family going tonight.

If you want to join us, and you don't like it, I'll give you the $20 back for your ticket.


rickeysays Dec. 28, 2009 @ 1:54 a.m.

Pete I agree that most of what Hollywood puts out is crap for the idiots, and Ponzi I agree I hate the computer generated special effects that don't even look real, usually in a movie with plot holes big enough to drive a(computer annimated)truck through. This is neither. James Cameron is better than that. Look at the movies he's responsible for. Aliens. Terminator. The Abyss. Titanic. This guy is a perfectionist, and he makes good movies, and believe me, Avatar (despite it's story weaknesses) is like nothing you've experienced before. You have to see it in the theater.


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