When is a blockbuster movie better on TV than in the theater? AVATAR confession time: I rented it on PPV yesterday as soon as it was available, even after all my boring and bitter complaints over how it didn't deserve the deluge of Academy Award nominations. Now I have to change my tune a bit, having watched it at home on HDTV. Somehow, away from the jostling crowds, the teenage hoards and the dense oily fumes of movie popcorn...it was actually enjoyable. Also, I think I might not be physiologically capable of "getting" the movie theater 3-D experience. The bulky glasses and fuzzy visuals give me a headache. I could care less about monsters bursting through the screen, give me crisp and crystal clear any day of the week.
Watching Avatar at home with a pause button also helped me focus more on some witty lines that I missed at the Santa Clara AMC mega-complex. Like Sigourney Weaver's scientist character (Grace) warning hero Jake not to play with the swirling tentacles on his new N'avi body or he'll "go blind". Later we learn that these Pandorean extension cords have some sort of sexual function. Funny.
The best part of Avatar for me, no matter what screen size is delivering it, has always been the total immersion into a dreamy alien world. Yeah it's a mishmash of a plot (Dances with Wolves meets Fern Gully) packed with wretched stereotypes (vile racist military and money obsessed Americans...oops, I mean Earthlings). But the visuals are absolutely stunning, and they pass by at breathtaking speed. Watching the parade on TV gives one a chance to pause, rewind, and watch that thundering herd of four eyed hammer-head rhinos again. Or the florescent helicopter lizards! Or the fabulous red leather pterodactyl horse! The alien flowers and animals are utterly captivating and anyone who doesn't lose themselves in this magic world of floating mountains and blue skinned cat people probably doesn't like Science Fiction much at all. Or, has a major problem with the writing. In which case I suggest that you still watch it, just turn the sound down.
Now that the hysteria over the billion dollar global box office return has subsided, it might be time to take a second look. Or first for the 12 people who have not ever seen it. And anyway, Cameron's ex (Katheryn Bigelow) won Best Director and Picture for The Hurt Locker at the Oscars (hooray!), so relax and enjoy the ride. At home. On TV. And make your own popcorn, there's a recession going on!