On Coal, Avatar's, Empty Roads and Plot Resets

Posted on Mon 04 January 2010 by alex in general

So that was the festive season, welcome to a new year. As we stumble back into the daylight and routine of work can I extend my best wishes to all for this new decade.

After the family centred Christmas we headed up to Manchester to celebrate the new year amongst friends. It was great to see so many people at C&P's to welcome in the new year, unfortunately I didn't get a chance to catch up with a number of people before they left. Hopefully I can make up for this next time I visit. Now we have successfully measured the sleeping capacity of the house we are already booking up the new year with people coming down to visit.

One interesting ceremony we took part in on the turn of the clock was bringing coal to the party. More correctly we were all supplied with some charcoal and sent out the back of the house to come in via the front door as the chimes struck. This is apparently a Scottish tradition, albeit a slightly messy one* :-)

On New Years Day we trundled into town to take advantage of Manchester's superior sound and vision facilities to watch the Cameron 3D CGI festival that was Avatar.

I'd lowered my expectations of what to expect from the script so I was pleasanter surprised on the day. While the film is certainly follows a plot-by-numbers approach it didn't feel too long given it is over 2 and a half hours long. Part of this was no doubt due to the IMAX skipping the traditional 30 minutes of advertising opportunity and launching straight into the film once everyone was seated. However workman like the plot was the dialogue was perfectly functional and only led to me cringe a couple of times. I'm not sure if "Unobtanium" was the script writers "hanging a lantern" on a plot point or just laziness in failing to search and replace generic MacGuffins before they started shooting.

However the main reason for the film was to push the envelope for CGI and 3D. On that score the film certainly delivers everything you expect. The use of 3D seemed pretty thoughtful, avoiding poking things at the viewer or forcing the eye to switch depth of field too much. There were some genuine vertigo inducing effects and the whole fantasy world of Pandora was vividly brought to life. Certainly worth seeing in 3D if you get the chance just don't expect a challenging plot.

We drove back to Cambridge on the 1st which proved to fairly easy given how quiet the road where. There was only a minor concern as we ventured into the wilds of Rutland to find a petrol station that was actually open. This allowed us to visit Fliss' mum for a little drinks and nibbles soiree on the 2nd.

I finally caught up with Doctor Who and RTD's swan song as he hands over creative control to Steven Moffat. I've been avoiding LJ updates until I caught up but I have to say I wasn't overly annoyed with it. The acting was all good, Simm's makes a good master and the inevitable plot-reset wasn't nearly as annoying as the previous specials. Sure the Doctor's "reward" was soppy and self indulgent but it was a nice change to the usual emo wrangling. While I have a lot of criticisms of the RTD era at least he bought Doctor Who back to our screens and I look forward to what Moffat will bring us in the next year.

* pictures coming to a Social Network soon