Today Esme and I went to Xalapa. We left Alice with her grandmother, Esme's mother, who has been staying with us after her mother passed away. We went to Xalapa for two reasons: first I had to do some paperwork in order to get my FM2 visa, and second, I wanted to see Avatar 3D.
After our visit to the immigration service, which has moved from a nice space in the same building housing the main post office in Xalapa to a former shop from the looks, I had some photos taken for the visa. We have to go back two more times before I finally have my FM2.
After the photo session, which took less than a minute, we walked to La Plazolette where we had lunch. This restaurant is located near to the main post office, and walking distance from our old apartment so walking in that section of Xalapa brought back memories. We also went to the post office to have a card weighted in order to know which stamps were required for sending it to the Netherlands; a birthday card for my mother, who has her birthday the 11th of February. Most likely the card will be not in time, but better late than never.
When we walked to the nearest bus stop we saw some figurines made out of pieces of metal and hardware parts in a shop window. Esme spotted a scorpion cleverly made with a spark plug (Bosch) providing the body. I guessed the price to be around 50 pesos, and really wanted to buy it if my estimate was correct. We went into the shop, and Esme asked how much, and it turned out that I have quite a good feeling of prices: 50 pesos exactly. So we bought the little "steampunk" scorpion.
Shortly after we were on our way to Plaza Las Americas; a shopping mall with a CinÚpolis movie theater. We purchased our tickets for Avatar 3D, and then did a little shopping. Fifteen minutes before the movie started we were back in the movie theater, just to be sure to have a good place to sit.
One of the first things we saw, after some waiting, was a pathetic anti-piracy flick: a guy accidentally exposed a pirated DVD during a job interview, and didn't get the job. In reality, nobody would've been surprised if the person taking the interview had asked for the DVD, made a copy of it during the rest of the interview, and the guy getting the job. This failure was followed by, in my opinion, too many commercials, and then finally, 3D glasses on, and Avatar 3D started.
It took me a little to get into the movie, the 3D effect was quite impressive, this was my first 3D movie, and on top of that the Spanish subtitling was distracting me. Since I am Dutch I grew up with reading subtitles, so if there is text at the bottom, it's hard to resist not reading it. But then I was slowly dragged into the movie, mostly because of the beautiful visuals, not so much by the story. The avatar concept was in my opinion quite original. Well, maybe not original, but in this set up at least new to me. But the rest of the story was quite predictable. I don't like to call movies predictable, it's often done in retrospect, and a lot of movies I've seen called predictable weren't so to me. However, Avatar is an exception, it actually is very predictable.
Does this make Avatar a bad movie? Not to me. I greatly enjoyed the visual spectacle; they are breathtaking. Avatar is to me not about the story, to me it's about the next step in what's possible with computer graphics. I was expecting that Avatar would give me the same feeling of wonder as when I first saw Jurassic Park, but I am still not sure if it actually did. I saw Jurassic Park three times at the movies. While I do want to see Avatar again, preferable in a movie theater and 3D, I don't see myself going to see it a 3rd time. So in short: awesome movie, but I was less impressed by it than expected, maybe because of the story, certainly not the visuals.
So what's next? How about turning some good SF/Fantasy books into 3D movies. Which books would I like to see in 3D with visuals like Avatar? Some might guess Ringworld, by Larry Niven. While it would make for a nice movie, I would prefer "The Integral Trees" and its sequel "The Smoke Ring" myself. But first I would love to see some of the work of Jack Vance turned into a 3D movie or better: movies. I think that "Planet of Adventure" is a good candidate. It consists of the following four books:
To me it has all the ingredients of four good movies: a not overly complex story, exotic locations and a lot of interacting with even more exotic aliens, in short a world that just begs to be turned into a 3D movie.
If you have suggestions for books that should be turned into 3D movies, feel free to post them as a comment, thanks. By doing so you might even recommend a book to me I haven't read, which is always very welcome.