So I finally seen the Avatar the other night with a friend of mine. I snuck in a water, York Peppermint Pattie, can of peanuts and wasabi peas. I mixed the wasabis in with the canned peanuts and then spun the whole thing so it was all thoroughly mixed up. Friggin excellent call.

The theater was like 75% full and everyone seemed slightly buzzed up for some 3-D ridiculousness. I think just getting the semi-cool looking sunglasses always makes things feel a little special. Like we got a bonus gift just for just showing up. (Even though the ticket was $15.25!). After wandering through some boring old 2-D previews-- the screen informs everyone to strap on their glasses. We did as we were told. I turned around in my seat to see how the whole theater looked-- and it had this 50's style 3-D theater look. Weirdly retrofied image for a place that was about to step into the future. I faced the screen and we all dopily oooohed in harmony...

I've had mixed feelings about 3-D the last few years. I was whatevery on it. The effect was usually a constant low-level annoyance. Nothing was in focus quite enough for me. It was almost like I was playing subconscious game of Magic Eye. Tweaking my pupils to be just right-- when all I really wanted was to focus on a stupid story The fact that nearly all animated movies will be in 3-D for now on has been disturbing for me. I didn't want tomorrow's Nemo to be all dolled up and pimped. Especially when for the most part the effects ain't all that wowie for me. It never has moved past simple gimmick.

Avatar told me to stop my grumblings and shut the hell up. Avatar held my hand and told me it was an honest nerdalicious friend. Avatar floated off the screen and swaddled my worries in a geekified snuggie. Avatar explained to me exactly what I didn't like about previous 3-D by removing the incriminating element-- old 3-D always had a layered look to me. Like there was the stuff on the screen as a flat layer. And then there was another "3-D" flat-layer floating on top of it. But that "3-D" layer was really just a tweaked 2-D of sorts. Viewmaster crap. wOOtever. A cheesy magic trick that needed my eyes as a volunteer to make it work. Avatar didn't want to trick me. Avatar just wanted to dance.

Visually it was like a mist in the room. And I was most impressed by the little things in the mist. The fire sparks or dust or smoke. The little jellyfish creatures. Simple atmospheric details. For a good chunk of this flick not only was my mouth open but I think my tongue was actually out. I'd bet my blinking pace slowed too. And after the first hour I noticed something else I liked about this movie. The theater was dead quiet except for the occasional 'Ooh...' or 'Whoa!' -- people were tuned in on the various frequencies.

I think everyone was quiet because there's something else to do if you get bored. You can visually fiddle around with it in your head. And the hokey twistless storyline actually works out ok because it lets you wander away and not get lost.  If you wanted a moment to stare at a plant. Stare away.  If you wanted to float your eyes all over the screen and trip on it. You could do that. If you wanted to squint to try and catch a glimpse of Nanooneener nipple-- you could do that too. If you wanted to just look at light and shadow. That was interesting. Whatever. There were choices to keep you occupied. You could choose your own experience in a way. All better options than wondering if you left the stove on.

And I took full advantage of all the options available-- because if this movie was in 2-D it wouldn't have mustered nearly the same impact. It probably would have been historic for Cameron in the opposite direction. There are major league logic problems scattered all over it from start to finish. Alot of questions had to be written off for the sake of 'it's just a movie'. Ham slices of deli dialogue often hit me straight in the face. It's long. And yah, at times the whole thing was just flat-out ridiculous and suspiciously terrible.

But whatever! (Seriously whatever). With the absolute visual whoa-- it just kept working. And coolio enviromental concepts kept things popping. It redeemed itself over and over. Little issues were dismissed like moths. You always knew something good was coming. But toward the end I got kinda bored-- so I backtracked through this jungle to where it all started. I sat in a tree and I just stared at this zillion dollar world from a distance-- wishing the storyline was a more worthy companion to its visual power. Because I knew that instead of this flick being one of the greatest things I've ever seen on screen--- it could have been one of the greatest movies ever made.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- The main chick was dynamite.
- I dug the environmental harmony and the connections.
- I'll never forget visiting the Nanooneeners on umm... whatever that planet was called.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- Sigourney Warner's avatar looked distractingly fake and her presence within the tribe never worked.
- I don't have a desire to see it again and it will probably age badly.
- The themeparkery was palpable.

All in all, it was stunning. Yadda yadda. It was a new toy. Blah blah. If you see it on a 2-D screen you're making a mega-mistake. Etc etc. This movie does rule. It is a permanent change to cinema and I'm cool with that (I guess. I better be anyway.). But really . If this was a straight 2-D movie I'd probably be hucking this thing an obscure drawer somewhere and forgetting about it forever. Happily this gift is a classic snowglobe and it will always sit on a high shelf.