By the time I finally managed to catch Avatar (yesterday), it seems the entire world has already seen it and everyone is … er …. raving about it, to put it mildly. So you have to pardon me if I went with sky-high expectations – and came back not too impressed.

Knowing very well that the storyline is not the reason why someone watches Avatar, I still cant help myself from commenting on the hackneyed script. Did they think no one else in the world has watched The Last Samurai or The Ant Bully or the numerous such movies ? All of them have the SAME plot – hero lives with a different species/race and he becomes one of them and fights his own people. Here the location is planet Pandora and the race is the Na’vi people of Pandora.
Even otherwise, the storyline is really predictable - you would run up pretty high numbers if you start counting movie clichés.

The visuals ofcourse, are breathtaking – colors and imagination have run riot on Pandora. The forests is magical with its glowing trees, lighted water and twirly winged lizards. The animals of Pandora are stylized versions of regular animals – the horse, the rhino, the dog – and the flying creatures resemble dragons (without the fire breath ofcourse). It’s a fascinating landscape with flying mountains, huge waterfalls and giant trees – James Cameron didn’t restrict himself when he was painting this landscape. The quality of the animation can be gauged from that fact that most of the times its impossible to tell that the human characters are animated.

However, while the computer generated imagery was pitch perfect, I didn’t find anything impressive about the 3D aspect. It didn’t add anything to the movie at all – I didn’t see any reason why the 2D wouldn’t have been equally fun to watch. But I have to qualify that I watched it at Movietime at The Hub – and their projector or glasses might have been the culprit. Its not the best of theatres Bombay has to offer

Avatar is definitely a major technical achievement and visually marvellous. Great cinema it is not. So whether to watch it or not? I think I am going to discount my less-than-stellar-3D experience and recommend a watch. Hopefully your 3D experience will be better than mine

3 star

(I think I should also mention that The Hub is the only place I have seen where you have to BUY paper 3D glasses for Rs. 30 each to watch the movie – in addition to your ticket price ! The tickets were pricey as it is – and usually 3D glasses are given for a deposit or included in the ticket price. Needless to say, I will be trying to avoid this place if possible

While we are on the subject of rants against multiplexes, I want to talk about my experience as a really avid cinephile in Bombay. Fame Cinemas and Cinemax are the best I have encountered so far. Their ticket booking system are more robust – I have probably had zero or maybe one failure so far in 3 years. And I book 95% of my movies online. The other reason I like them is that they were the first to jump on the mobile booking bandwagon more than 2 years back. Fame is on ngpay and Cinemax has its own mobile application. Movies start within 10 minutes of schedule time and there never has been any technical glitches that I recall.

PVR has the newest and posh multiplexes in Bombay, because of its locations at Juhu and Phoenix Mills. Seating etc is best among all the multiplexes but unfortunately their ticketing system is the worst. Can you believe it that their website itself would work on Firefox (anything apart from IE) till 4 months back ? Forget booking tickets – just the homepage wouldn’t open ! The online ticketing system is hopelessly fragile. I would say atleast 30-40% of my bookings with PVR fail the first time – and I have to redo them. This weekend was the limit though - I tried booking a 3 Idiots show 4 times – and failed – money being charged to me everytime !
(Btw, yesterday I called the customer support and then wrote a scathing email to their Head, Customer Support. He called back offering to book the tickets himself, but I had already booked tickets elsewhere)

Fun Cinemas, is at the bottom of my multiplex list despite having a robust ticketing system and being one of the pioneers on ngpay. Its just a horribly managed cinema – movies never start on time, there have been inordinate delays at random moments – including a 30 minute intermission once and a 20 minute projector breakdown one other time. And once this summer, they even turned off the AC in the lobby citing cost-cutting as a reason. This and numerous other reasons make it absolutely the multiplex to avoid. Unfortunately, it is the the only multiplex screening English movies at late night or running some foreign movies – which make it unavoidable at times.

INOX I have hardly used once or twice and don’t have any comments)

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