Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The day I watched Avatar - or another movie you MUST watch

If you really had to watch any movies in the cinema this year, here are my MUST WATCH recommendations.

Forget the crap that people tell you are the best for whatever reasons. You WILL enjoy these movies for very different reasons each.Because I said so... (matilah perasan). Ok.. not really. But you will LOVE these movies for reasons stated below.

The first is obviously, the still playing Zombieland. Whether you love horror, or comedy, you'll love Zombieland.

Popcorn movie, with a so-so plot, but amazing one-liners, a crazy cameo, and astounding comic timing, Zombieland is definitely one of the must watch movies of the year. Sayangnya aku gi panggung kat sini tengok, tak ramai layan. What a waste. I know friends who didn't want to watch Zombieland, and did - say they were lucky they caught it anyway or they would have missed something big.

It's the sort of movie you come out - having been entertained, and totally oblivious to the fact you just paid more for the snacks, than the tickets. Won't review it further as I've written loads on it.

Then tonight, I watched the second MUST WATCH movie of 2009. The much talked about Avatar.

Like how some must feel towards Zombieland, I had my own prejudices against Avatar. After all, the hype seemed a little too much that it would be hard to justify that the movie would actually be good enough.

Closest example would be the silly kiddy movie Twilight : New Goon or new loon or or something like that... stupidest movie ever made for 14 year-olds (boys or girls) who just want to see semi nude men but have no access to porn.

To make sure I had the complete experience to judge Avatar, I watched it in 3D. Despite having to sit in the second row from the screen as the halls were packed, I did it anyway... knowing I would judge it more harshly for the uncomfortable 'pleasure' of having my head tilted 45 degrees for some two hours.

And so how did I feel about it?

This beats the crap out of Titanic - and there isn't even an annoying theme song that will last two decades!

While people talk about the special effects and technology involved, that took James Cameron some 14 years to make this movie as he had to wait for technology to catch up to his vision for it, I saw it it for very different qualities.

Yes, the CGI was good. It wasn't abusively used like in Transformers or Spiderman movies which ends up making the offerings look like very expensive Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, sebab keadaan camtuh lah aku biasanya elak movie with tons of CGI...

And to be amazed by Avatar wasn't easy as it had something like 80% CGI.

In fact, I didn't notice all the technological advancements, because it was made to look so organic that I could have sworn for most parts, James Cameron must have managed to make it look like CGI instead for boasting points.

The settings were amazingly details, as was the whole world created. The characters were all so - well.. real! In fact, with hype that the movie may be up for nine Oscars or so, I hope Neytiri gets a nod for Best Actress (ok... so she's not a real person... but still... it was that good).

The emotions were as finely delivered and communicated - if not better, than any real living, breathing person.

The script itself was simple. Think good versus evil. Think good winning. Think rich greedy corporation capitalising off the downtrodden. Think David versus Goliath. Think Terminator series minus the T1000s or whatever version you watched.

But here's where it gets interesting.

While I love Zombieland for being 'brainless' and just being one of those movies o have a good time with, Avatar can not only do that - but also strike home a message or two.

The whole story begins with Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine hired to replace his twin brother's place in an experimental project in which human minds are transferred into bodies created from a hybrid of human and alien DNA (or avatars).

The brainchild of tough-talking scientist (Sigourney Weaver!), the project was devised to smooth talk the alien race of the Na’vi, on planet Pandora, into giving up their land which sits on a mass plot of a valuable mineral Unobtainium.

While unprepared, Jake manages to forge a tie with the Na'vi and eventually falls for his mentor in Neytiri - possible the hottest alien ever created.

Things get hostile when force is used for the company pushes acquisition of the land to mine the mineral and Jake has to take side.

Not so subtle - but if you just take a little time to think about it, I think somewhere there is James Cameron's jibe at something.

Whether it's a political statement on the occupation of Iraq, or the bitchy bitterness of America's past with Vietnam, or even a swipe at their past with the indigenous population of native Americans... we'll never know.

But stories like Avatar are broad enough for many interpretations. Simple message of greed and how that spurs the justification that might means right more often than not ends up in apocalyptic mass destruction is something anyone can relate to.

Personally for me, I kept thinking of the endless logging of rich fat cats in East Malaysia and the plight of the Penans (no I'm not thinking of the blue skinned, semi nude, riding on genetically superior pterodactyls).

But that's just me...

And let's not forget the whole politically correct approach to being one with Mother Nature and how we should love and respect the earth and all. The Na'vi represent an ideal that is unattainable, but again, ideal - for a materialistic, consumer driven world.

Yeah... so... no matter what you go for in a movie, Avatar is a freaking must watch. I don't know how it looks in 2D, but catching it in 3D was amazing. Unlike most 3D offerings, I didn't have things flying at me or anything. It was used tastefully to enhance the experience. In reverse, instead of the movie popping out at me, it sucked me into this whole other world!

In fact - half hour into it, I forgot I was watching in 3D, but still felt so enveloped in the film that when they Na'vi were gearing up to fight back, I wanted to scream along. In fact... I did... embarrassing!

And yes, like Titanic, there were moments I pretended I got something in my eyes.

So watch it. Even if you have to sit in the second row like me. Even if there is some stupid kid yelping on his handphone befor I kick the back of his seat in Kelantanese dialect halfway through the movie. Even if there is a huge Chinese guy three seats away is snoring up a storm. Even if the stupid couple behind gives a running commentary in Arabic. And even if someone's feet smell in the cinema. Even if you watch the midnight screening and have to wait in an empty mall for almost two hours staring at walls in an un-air condition space.

It's all worth it. Despite some friends saying it was Star Trek meets Smurfs with Mystique from X-Men in the lead.

And the last movie worth catching for, in 2009?

Forget the reviews of some who call it boring. I've watched it three times. And no, it isn't a popcorn movie like Zombieland. Or a visual extravaganza like Avatar.

But it is THE BEST local movie for 2009. For many reasons that other movies lack. The soul.

Arwah Yasmin told me this after I watched the offline edit of Muallah for the first time about two years ago when I came out of the Leo Burnett theatherette in tears when I admitted I loved the movie - but I said she was swinging back in to non-commercial mode of making movies.

"But did you enjoy it?"

I said I did.

"Did you understand it?"

I told her I probably wasn't the right person to answer that, as I probably am not able to read between the lines and all. But I did get something from it - so many lessons in relation to me, my beliefs and my understanding of my faith.

She just smiled and said, "Then that's all that matters."

We often look for movies with answers.

But the best movies, encourage us to think, to question - and search for answers on our own. And for that very reason, watch Avatar and Zombieland. And if you feel numbed by having to think so much, then go for Zombieland.

Unless you want to be dumbed down by movies with no passion. Then go for anything else.

Muallaf as expected will not get good reviews - simply because many reviewers in all their intelligence will not acknowledge something they don't understand, and the late Yasmin still has lots of haters when it comes to her work.

Other than that, Zombieland is still showing, Avatar is still packed, and Muallaf opens on Christmas eve.

Watch them. Definitely worth your money.



A lovely review of AVATAR and I wholeheartedly agree.. a definite must watch!

i love avatar. and will watch muallaf. it's different.

if it runs out of imagination and even some credibility when it comes to the plot, well, there is still enough on the screen to qualify as entertaining eye candy.

thanks zed. and yes edzlin, muallaf worth a go. r4i, trust me, if you're talking about avatar or even any of the movies mentioned above, it has all of the above. eye candy is twilight. HAHAHAHA

i LOOOOVE your Avatar review!!! wonder when I can write like you??

Zalinah Noordin

er.... i think there was nothing to it. just ranting. ehehehe