“AVATAR” COUNTDOWN: 8 DAYS
The imminent release of James Cameron’s “Avatar” has worked fans into a lather. Now it’s starting to do the same for critics. Before you read some of their comments, here’s a refresher:
At the Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt’s review expressed the ecstasy one might feel if one, say, saw the original “Star Wars” a week before its release — with George Lucas and Harrison Ford in the room.
“Movie magic is back!” proclaimed the usually even-keeled critic, before going on to explain why. “As with everything in ‘Avatar,’ Cameron has coolly thought things through. … The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-‘em-ups you care to mention. … Not a minute is wasted; there is no down time. The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this?”
At Variety, chief critic Todd McCarthy was almost equally enthusiastic, calling out the picture’s “unique spectacle,” “breathtaking sights” and “narrative excitement,” though he offered a few qualifiers as well, noting, for example, “foggy” politics.
At The Independent, Anna Keir offered that while the movie can be “overwhelming,” it was “highly entertaining, ” and she touted the picture as “rich in action” and “beautiful to watch.”
The most lukewarm take came from the Associated Press, which drew a distinction between the movie’s visual elements and its narrative ones. Reviewer Jake Coyle called Cameron’s effort “a movie whose effects are clearly revolutionary [and] a spectacle that millions will find adventure in. But it nevertheless feels unsatisfying and somehow lacks the pulse of a truly alive film.”
The mood in the room at the Los Angeles theater where the film screened for media and tastemakers Thursday night was strong — though, perhaps given the presence of so many jaded types (many were people who see four or five movies per week) — not Comic-Con electric. The length may also have something to do with that — though, surprisingly, given the 2-hour, 40-minute running time, the movie flies by faster than, well, a banshee.
– Steven Zeitchik
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