Monday, March 8, 2010

The Hurt Locker versus Avatar

Since I have now watched The Hurt Locker several times, and, in the wake of its success at the 2010 Academy Awards, I started to write a review of this incredible movie. But then I read what Kenneth Turan wrote about it in the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Turan is a MUCH better reviewer than I am, and I agree with nearly every word he's written about The Hurt Locker.

So read his review here.

I even agree with the venerable (and venerated) Roger Ebert in his original assessment of The Hurt Locker, and Mr. Ebert now seems prescient (back in July of 2009) in calling this movie an early contender for an Oscar.

I will only add this point: I agree with the Academy that this is a better movie than James Cameron's Avatar -- but that's like saying apples are better than oranges. I only mean that I liked The Hurt Locker more than I enjoyed Avatar.

But some apples really are better than some oranges.

Yes, I know that Avatar is an unprecedented special-effects extravaganza, but so was Star Wars Episode IV and, for that matter, Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within. But, ultimately, story and characterization outlast the latest bells & whistles (which almost never age well). An example: Rod Taylor starring in George Pal's The Time Machine came out in the same year as Jack Lemmon & Shirley MacLaine starring in Billy Wilder's The Apartment -- and I defy you to say that the former is a "better" movie than the latter, despite The Time Machine being "technologically" more advanced, such as being filmed in Metrocolor versus the black-and-white photography of The Apartment. Face it: Lemmon & MacLaine starred in what I've heard the director Jason Reitman (in an interview with Kevin Pollak), say is "the most perfect comedy ever made." And (again) IT WAS IN BLACK-AND-WHITE.

So. The Hurt Locker beats Avatar. This is artistic justice.

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