I haven’t gone back to see a movie twice in many years. The last one I remember was Collateral, which I thought was brilliant. My second viewing confirmed it. That is a great movie with a terrific ensemble performance and captures LA as only Michael Mann can. It might be Mann’s best film – although I have a special fondness for Thief and it’s existential angst played against the backdrop of Chicago’s rainy streets and Tangerine Dreams soundtrack. Collateral is in that tradition (as is Heat) only tighter with a better script.

I digress.

With Avatar the motivation was different. I wanted to be less distracted by all the revolutionary stuff going on in terms of 3D and computer EFX and try to simply enjoy the movie. I did – imensley.

What surprised me, was how much faster the movie went by the second time. Initially I thought there was a bit of lag between the second and third acts, and I just didn’t see this the second time. The movie zips by.

I mentioned in my other review, there were problems with Avatar and they were no less apparent the second time around. Other anachronisms, one dimensional characterizations by some of the live actors, and the lame joke searching for a substance called  “un-obtanium” were left out of that review. These again are minor problems with what is a delicious and invigorating movie experience. These should not be speed bumps in your race to see this movie in 3D ASAP.

What I really missed in my first review was how good the acting was by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. I am sure this will be overlooked as they will be lumped together with voice actors in animated features. Yet, they were so much more than this. These actors, and all the other N’avi, were all bridled with head cameras that captured facial expressions which were brought into the virtual character and were the crucial link to the viewer’s emotional involvement with the story. So much of the story between Jake Sully and Neytiri was told by their reaction to each other. A glance, a blush, a pause. That is the “acting” part. They did a great job, and I am sure that wasn’t easy running around with blue screens and headgear trying to convey this subtle emotionality. Hats off to those two and the rest of the N’avi crew.

I was again surprised by how the movie caught me emotionally. Through all the bombast of bullets, bombs and profit driven imperialism, Avatar was more than a shoot-em-up with great effects, it really was a story that echos that most human of needs: the desire to be accepted, loved, and heard.

Jake Sully found all that on Pandora, and we viewers are moved because we understand and recognize those needs and feelings in ourselves. We see them played out everyday here on earth. Sometimes with good outcomes, sometimes not. 

With Avatar, the outcome is a good one.