Three weeks after hitting theaters and film critics still can’t stop talking about it, even to say that they are refusing to talk about it:
- Dave Kehr offers a nice critique of the claims that Avatar is a game-changing film, thanks to its success in popularizing 3D. As Kerr notes, a transition in cinema, whether digital 3D or the introduction of sound, is typically “not something that happened overnight, but a gradual process.” As he observes, 3D will require not only the technological tools but will also require the social acceptance of 3D as a viable format for a variety of film genres.
- Jonathan Gray has a good analysis on the extratextual frames through which audiences view Avatar. Like Jonathan, I think Avatar offers an intriguing example of how expectations for a film are typically established before the viewer actually enters the theater, but Jonathan offers an especially useful read of how Avatar’s anti-fans seem to “enjoy” their status as critics.
- This knowledge likely informs Michael Atkinson’s decision to save himself three hours and skip Avatar. Atkinson’s explanation prompts Jim Emerson to ask whether it’s OK for a critic to skip this month’s version of The Most Important Film Ever. The quick answer is, sure, he can avoid any movie he chooses. But I think Atkinson misses the point when he offers a simple opposition between the film’s story and its visuals, suggesting that the visual pleasure offered by a film like Avatar is mere childhood fantasy or that visuals and the technological mastery of them by Cameron are somehow outside the “story.”
- Meanwhile, Emerson also has a nice round-up over the debates about Avatar’s politics, sparking a pretty intriguing debate about the film’s politics in the comments section.
Update: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but Michael Cieply offers a similar argument to David Kehr that Avatar’s influence on future filmmaking practices isn’t fully clear. Yeah, there are some 3D films in production, but few with the scope of Cameron’s film. Cipely’s article comes with a nice graphic timeline tracing the long history of 3D film experimentation.