I just spent more time in a movie theatre in the past 24 hours than I have in the entirety of 2009. The length of Avatar is partially to blame for that. And yes, the 1:30am IMAX 3D showing was worth it; that movie is such a stunning technological achievement that the part of my brain that would usually be going "ooh, this is a stunning technological achievement" was sufficiently stunned by said technological achievements to shut up and bask in the sheer beauty of it, sans running analysis (...most of the time).
It's pretty rare for me to see a movie where I actually like all the female characters. In particular, Neytiri... kicks... ass. I was surprised by how fast the pacing moved in the beginning of the movie, and how they somehow managed to achieve that rapid pace without accelerating the beats and making it feel rushed, or feeling like you'd skipped over large chunks in the story. The lighting was gorgeous; both the military base scenes and the out-in-the-forest scenes had a green hue, but the former was a sickly green and the latter had a lovely dynamic range. I don't know much about lighting so I can't tell more than that. And (this is silly, but) I liked the lens they used for the video diary clips. 200 years from now, webcams apparently still have a bit of a fisheye effect.
Ok, so the plot is cliched. It's basically Pocahontas with aliens. And although it didn't feel rushed, pacing-wise, I found myself going "wait how did they decide to become lifelong mates in 3 months which was actually several cut-scenes during the movie that we don't really show?" I have no idea what the non-subtitled dialogue was (hurrah for alien languages needing to be subtitled in English) but I've heard that I'm not missing very much. Sans dialogue, the villains (Quaritch and Selfridge) were rather one-dimensional, and I wish Trudy and Norm (and possibly a few more of the marines - they're mostly bodies that shoot things and die during the film) had been given more time for character development; the glimpse of Augustine's past (in the photos on the fridge) was great to see. Then again, the film is already 2.5 hours...
The other one was The Princess and the Frog, which I went to see with Randy after we went shopping for a mattress and sheets for his new apartment. Randy is the oldest friend I have - our parents were friends since before we were born (6 months apart - he's older). We were constant playmates to the point where jokes about arranged marriages started coming up. (Why is this a popular joke topic in my family?) He moved to Kentucky when we were both 6, and we didn't get much of a chance to see each other for the next 17 years - but he's in Illinois now, working, and about to move into a condo with my cousin Mark about 15 minutes away from my parents' house (hence the mattress shopping). It's great to see the kind of young man my old playmate has become.
We went to see a Disney movie because (1) Randy is a huge Disney fan, and (2) we watched our first Disney movie in a theatre (Beauty and the Beast) together when we were small. Of Beast: he remembers the music and the story; I remember how the visuals filled me with awe, especially that one sweep of the camera to the ceiling during the ballroom dance scene. On the way back home to drop me off, we did a pretty fair impression of crufty reminiscing about the quality of hand-drawn animation, "the good old days" of Disney musicals, the lack of a clear "magic moment" in this one (the carpet ride in Aladdin, the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast, etc - Frog is a good movie, a solid one, but not an amazingly magical one).
So. That was nice. And with that, my vacation concludes - work starts again tomorrow. (YAYYYYY!)