Monday, December 21, 2009

Episode 455: Avatar

Even though I had to wake up really early today to be on time for Avatar with Ben Woon, I stayed up till a ridiculous hour reading Turn Coat, the latest novel of The Dresden Files. In my opinion, this is a series that was practically written for TV, and the cancellation of the TV adaptation is a mistake that rivals the cancellation of Dollhouse. I mean, come on, Jim Butcher has three different types of vampires, wizards and werewolves in the books. That and Paul Blackthorne was the perfect Harry Dresden. If I ever write a book, I want to write a book that people will enjoy the way that I enjoy The Dresden Files. I don't care that it's basically one urban fantasy among many, I like the books very, very much. (I actually think one of the reasons I have a slight knack for writing in an engaging first-person voice is that that's what The Dresden Files is written in, and I've (sub)consciously incorporated it into my own work.) Also finished reading Baricco's City, which I can't make up my mind about. Its technique is interesting, although at certain points, the lack of linearity in the narration is very jarring, but in a way that is consistent with the content at those points, so it's less a flaw than a personal preference at work here. I don't know. Gould's boxing story just didn't work for me, although Shatzy's Western was brilliant at the very end in a Borgesian manner. Anyone else read Baricco and care to discuss this further?

So anyway, Avatar wasn't a disappointment. I will admit to not being bowled over by the 3D aspect, which I kind of stopped noticing after a quarter of an hour (or was that the point?), so I'm still not convinced it's the future of the film industry. (It's not like 3D hasn't been around for decades in one form or another anyway!) I will say though that Avatar is so transparently anti-war and pro-environment, it would actually be quite painful to sit through if the story in which James Cameron had seeded these ideas weren't so appealing on a fundamental level. The thing is, you clearly can tell he's relying on very basic cultural tropes to manipulate your feelings, but you still can't help being drawn into the film, insanely lush rainforest-like environment notwithstanding. The visual effects are gorgeous, although Pandora must have a significantly lower gravity, as everything looks kind of stretched out on that moon. I can totally see this becoming a film franchise, which as I understand, is Cameron's intention, should the first film be successful. To end on a somewhat irrelevant note, am I the only one who thinks that Sam Worthington looks a little like Christian Bale? (Uncanny, considering how they appeared together in Terminator Salvation.) A more regular, less intense version of Bale, if you know what I mean. Doesn't he?

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