Near the top

I almost hate to write this, as the Caps have been playing so well of late, and I'd hate to jinx it, but they're back to within two points of the top of the league. And with the best goal differential in the league by a bunch. Definitely good times.

Hopefully Varlamov or Theodore will be back within a few days. Not sure what the expected timeframe is for either.

While I'm mentioning the Caps, though, I thought I'd particularly point out Alexander Semin. He's got 19 points in the last ten team games. Very impressive. (Now that I look, Ovie's got 20 over the same stretch. That's quite a 1-2 punch. Of course, the team's got 53 goals in that span, so it isn't like they've been doing it all.)

I must say, though, he's a bit of an enigma overall. He's shown flashes, for as long as a month at a time, where he's been every bit as good as Ovie. But then he'll practically disappear for a week at a time, also.

I wish I had some idea how to get him to perform at the level he's capable of, for an entire season. I think he'd at least be in the running for the Art Ross trophy.

A Leap of Faith

I had heard of Jumper a long time ago (I don't remember when), and was curious about it. When playing RPGs, teleport was always one of my favorite abilities (not my very favorite, but up there), so that got my attention a bit.

When the movie came out, that finally prodded me to get the book. A while after that (probably between six months and a year), I finally got around to reading it. And recently, Amazon had this 3-pack on sale for about $20, so I got the movie.

Well, I got around to watching the movie last night, and thought I'd talk about it a bit. I did find myself wishing that I'd read the book a bit more recently, so I'd remember a few more specifics, but here's what I remember:

The book was a kind of coming-of-age story of a kid with a nifty, but unexplained, power. He starts out lifting a lot of cash from a bank vault, and uses that to get himself started on a real life. Eventually, he even starts helping out rid the world of terrorists.

The movie keeps the weird power and the cash from bank vault, but loses most everything else. This Davy is a completely selfish loner who uses his power for self-gratification and nothing else. And he comes to be chased by a secretive organization that wants to kill him purely because of what he can do. And, oh yeah, his mother is part of that organization, which is why she disappeared when he was five.

Now, essentially the entire story is him trying to stay alive against this cabal while trying to win over the girl he's liked since he was around five.

While it's certainly action-packed, and has very nice scenery, it was a pretty forgettable movie. The whole thing just felt... I dunno... contrived, maybe? It doesn't help that the resolution didn't really make any sense. The way he finally got away from Samuel L Jackson (and minions) didn't work. Electricity pulsing through him kept him from being able to teleport, until that scene, when it suddenly didn't. About the only good thing about it was the other jumper, Griffin, who was pretty funny.

But I do think I'll go back and re-read the novel (not in the next few months, unfortunately), and maybe the sequel as well. And maybe Griffin's backstory, as well. We'll see about that.

Avatar revisited

Was working at home today, and decided at the last minute to cut out for a while to finally catch Avatar at an IMAX showing. This makes the first movie since Shrek (side note: in looking for a link, I saw that there's no BluRay or even widescreen DVD of Shrek. What's up with that?), I think, that I've caught more than once at the theater.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with the screen where I saw it (The Hoffman theater in Alexandria, VA, if anyone's curious. I'd been there before, but not in several years (before they converted Screen 5 to IMAX)). It was a large screen, but not nearly the size that I associate with IMAX. It was probably around a quarter the size of the screens at the Smithsonian. So it wasn't all that much larger than the screen that I originally saw it on (heck, maybe not at all). The sound system was better, but that really isn't enough to justify paying like five bucks extra. Hopefully, this'll hit one of the Smithsonian screens before too long.

Anyway, what hit me. Once again, the maker of the trailer for Lightning Thief should be shot. There was a new trailer for one called 'How to Train Your Dragon'. And that looks really good. We'll see, but that makes two movies for March that I'm looking forward to. Not sure that's ever happened before. In fact, I doubt it.

As far as Avatar is concerned? It was still very enjoyable. It really struck me how saturated the colors were throughout the movie. The music was quite good, and appropriately understated. The thing I mentioned about how out-of-focus elements seemed a bit wonky is only for items that are in front of the focal plane. Things in the background look fine. I don't have anything to add to any of the plot holes previously noted.

I experimented a little bit, and polarized lenses seem to work to let you watch the 3D movie without the 3D effect. I should note that things look very bad, indeed, if you just take the glasses off. And they look pretty weird if you rotate your head sideways. Those make me think that any 3D disc release (Blu-Ray only, one would presume) would need to either include two versions (flat and 3D) or would need to do some compositing within the player so that the effect could be turned off (I can think of several reasons you might want to disable it for a single viewing).

One visual thing that I don't think I noticed the first time was the felinity of the faces of the Na'Vi. It had to do with the noses, particularly in how wide they are and how they meet the forehead, the eyes (their narrow-ness and color), and ears, both the shape and, especially, the placement.

There was some subtle dialog that I didn't make note of, last time. When Jake is first running around in his Avatar, before going to bed he looks at his link point, and Grace remarks, "You'll go blind doing that." Knowing what the link point was, that was pretty funny. Actually, this gets back to something I noted in my first viewing, but forgot to remark on: when they were making love, why didn't they use those links? It seemed obvious that that was the mental union to go with the physical one (well, I've heard about a script with a page deleted from the movie that showed that as the entirety of the act; that doesn't really make sense to me), so I was a bit baffled that they didn't show it.

Remembering Grace's line reminds me of one other issue with that part of the movie. When Jake was running around, he saw fifteen or so avatars. Why do we never see that many afterwards? Especially when they get thrown in jail.

I guess that's really all I have to say about the movie. It was still worth seeing, despite being significantly flawed. And I will probably see it again if a large-screen IMAX theater nearby (read: Smithsonian) gets it. I will certainly buy it on Blu-Ray as well (in 3D, if possible).

Update: I forgot to mention that I watched all the credits this time. I had noticed WETA being mentioned the first time, but hadn't watched long enough to see ILM also mentioned. I wasn't aware that they'd ever worked together. Here and I'd been thinking that this film showed that WETA really was capable of challenging ILM for the title of top special effects house. Well, maybe they are, anyway (honestly, I'm a bit behind on this), but this doesn't show it.

It was also weird to me that only one piece of music was specifically credited. Is it because it was the only actual song?


Kindle moving in right direction?

Just ran across this press release about a new Kindle policy coming soon. It would seem that Amazon is also thinking that Apple will release a tablet competing with the Kindle soon.

I wasn't sure what to make of it until I got down to
# The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99
# This list price must be at least 20 percent below the lowest physical list price for the physical book
# The title is made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights
# The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store.

Particularly of interest to me in that is the second one. Electronic copies with a marginal cost of six cents should not cost the same amount as physical copies with a marginal cost measured in dollars. Frankly, that should be more like 40%, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Now if they just ditch the DRM, I'll definitely be going for a Kindle. Well, unless the Apple tablet is better (which it probably is :).

Query for the publishers out there: Why isn't this a no-brainer to do with for out-of-print books? Costs are minimal (and, hell, could probably be reduced to virtually zero by working with the Google book-scanning project), and it would serve as market research. That is, if a soft copy sells more than a certain number of copies, use it as a guide to bring the book back into print.

curmudgeon of the year?

I mentioned previously that I have fairly recently gotten into photography, and even put a link to Ken Rockwell's site in there.

He's a pretty good writer, generally focusing on the practical, rather than the theoretical. And that's a good thing. But he just went off on one of the more curmudgeonly rants I think I've ever seen. (And I've certainly been called a curmudgeon based on my comments on various things.)

Ignoring that most of the things he mentions are tools, and that the helpfulness of a tool is in how you use it (and how it fits into your way of doing things), let's look at the specifics.

Well, I really don't have a lot to say about email. I think it's great, and I only spent 20-30 minutes a day on it (generally). Maybe that's just because I don't get nearly as much of it. *shrug*

Cars. Hmm... jumping from "My wife's and my radios suck" to "all cars are crap" is quite a fantastically large leap. I've got a relatively recent Acura. My radio has two dials on it: one for volume and one for tuning. I've also got the standard buttons for station presets. And on my steering wheel I have two up/down "levers". One raises/lowers the volume, and one goes between the presets. Plus a button to change mode (FM1/FM2/XM/AM/CD). So I can do just about anything I'd want to do with regularity without taking my hands off the steering wheel.

I think the problem is just that neither Volvo nor Porsche (and I have almost no direct experience with the latter, but it's a surprise to me) puts a large value on ergonomics. Try looking around more.

Home appliances? Well, there's tradeoffs. The really cheap ones with just a dial? You better know exactly how long you want to cook something. And do they have different power levels (not a feature I use, but my wife does)? What about granularity of that dial? I doubt it gets down to the second. Like I said, tradeoffs.

Florescent lights? Well, I don't have any big problems with them. I have, a few times, been tired enough to see the flickering from them. But that's the only significant problem I have. Are they different light from incandescents? Sure. But better or worse? I'm skeptical about that.

As far as environmental issues? Well, there certainly is the mercury issue. No doubt, that's an issue. A huge one? I don't think so, but you do have to dispose of them more carefully. The lead? I'm not sure where that's coming from. It used to be a significant issue in electronics because of solder, but lead solder basically isn't used any more (and hasn't been, in quite a while). Of course, that isn't without its problems either. But the VLF problem? Well, that's the first I've heard of it. I'll have to look into that.

And, since CFL's basically cut electricity use by about 75%, most businesses use them. It ain't just cheap motels. Actually, the last two nice hotels I've stayed at used them as well (if more subtly than the cheap hotels).

DSLRs suck? That's an interesting thing to say about something one is using to make one's living. After all, most of the articles on his site discuss DSLRs or equipment to use with them. I'm certainly not going to say they're perfect (I'm sure they're worse than medium format cameras, though it's been so long since I shot 35mm film that it's hard for me to make a comparison there. It'd be nice if Nikon had a mid-level 35mm camera for comparison. The nice one is just too expensive for me).

But anyway, the big thing is this: for most of what I shoot, film is just too expensive and inconvenient. Maybe if I was a better photographer, I'd need fewer frames to get shots I was happy with, and that wouldn't be the case. I don't know. But just saying that it's all crap is really throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Moving on to TVs, this I have a bit more to say about. First, he's right that colors (or at least, black levels) are better with CRTs. Of course, the downside of that is that you have to worry about refresh rates and eyestrain, which LCDs, plasmas, and DLPs don't force you to worry about. It's also much harder to get a flat screen with CRT, while it comes out naturally for the other technologies. That's mostly of benefit because reflections are less of an issue. And let's not even get started on volume/weight. (Contemplate how large/heavy a CRT comparable to this would be. I'm guessing the better part of a ton, and several feet thick.)

And 4:3 is best? I doubt it. In fact, our eyes notice things most efficiently side to side, rather than vertically, so wider actually is categorically better. That being said, there sometimes are problems with delivery. And that needs to be worked out. But when watching high-def material (which is pretty much everything I watch), a 16:9 display is fantastic. Ideal? Well, that depends on your source material. I wouldn't mind even wider for sports (or for the large number of movies I have that are anywhere from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1).

What would you rather have? Black bars top/bottom or left/right (I've only seen both occur with commercials. Annoying, but it's just commercials) and seeing the whole scene, or using the full resolution of the display without seeing the entire picture. Some people do disagree, but I'll go with the full picture every time. I'll admit, though, that the only network TV I watch are sports and Jeopardy.

As far as picture quality, yes, I would be happier if the cable company wouldn't try to compress channels so badly. I'd be even happier if the cable company wasn't a monopoly, so there was competition that might prevent that kind of compression. But I've still never seen it get so bad that it looked worse than even pretty good VHS (at least not for more than a few seconds at a time).

And synchronization? The only way I can see for that to be an issue is an older DLP rear projector with the sound coming out of a home theater system. If you do the wiring for that setup in a slightly unusual way, you can get problems. But most home theater systems will also give you a way to compensate for that. And most setups won't give you a problem even to start with.

Remote controls suck? Amen, brother. A pox on all of them. Logitech has at least made an attempt to deal with this, although they've still got an awful lot of buttons.

HD-DVD? Ok, it being abandoned sucked. No question. And yes, I'd've liked it to take less than 10-20 seconds to start up. But it was still very nice. I haven't thrown mine out. And an upscaling DVD player's images are as nice? You're nuts. Seriously, that's an absurd thing to claim. Of course, if you're just watching on a standard def CRT, that's true. But that's a pointless comparison.

Blu-ray? If your player is taking forever to start, then you have an old player that can't handle later disc formats. The problem is lack of memory. Yes, I have that issue with some disks with my older player. My year old player has no such problems. It might take half a minute. Still not great, but hardly painful. (Yes, I will be happy when they make players with faster CPUs and more memory. But still, it's hardly bad enough to condemn the format.)

Really, if you want to condemn the format, why not talk about how consumer-hostile Sony has become since they became a media company? And talk about how bad an idea it was to introduce Blu-ray when it was still lacking desired menuing features (which is what led to older players having the problem with loading newer disks).

Frankly, that alone was enough reason for me to hope for HD-DVD to be the surviving format, even given Blu-ray's obvious technical superiority (better compression and larger capacity).

Moving on, telephones. Yeah, call quality could (and should) be better. But how convenient is that land line? Most people find that convenience worth the occasional problems.

Radio? Well, I mostly listen to NPR. The music's good enough to take my mind off driving when I don't. I don't listen to the radio at home.

CDs? Once again, amen. I hadn't noticed that about remasterings of recordings. I only have a couple of those; I'll have to take a look and see if that's true. I hope not. But it wouldn't terribly surprise me.

Snow/Leopard? Well, I'd need to go back to look at 10.4 again for a visual comparison. I need all the behind-the-scenes differences with the more recent versions, though, so staying with 10.4 isn't really an option.

Windows? That ship sailed years ago; I only use it when I must. I've heard Windows 7 isn't quite complete crap, but haven't tried it myself. You can do some neat things with Windows when you really know what you're doing (I'm no longer in that category), but it really shouldn't need so much work to get to the way things should work from the beginning.

Update: Somewhere in there, I missed TV shows. Yeah, they're pretty much all crap. Too bad 'Pushing Daisies' was too good to stay on the air. But then, my initial guess, after seeing a trailer in front of a movie, and before seeing the show, was that it would work better as a movie than a TV show. Shows what I know; every episode was awesome.


Grandma Gets Run Over by a Camel?

I just read this, and I have to say that I'm deeply disappointed. I've been a fan of Ray Stevens for many years, but I'm really disappointed to hear him repeating such lies.

I hope this is just a case of him believing the wrong people.

Regardless, I might just cry the next time I hear 'The Mississippi Squirrel Revival'. And if you've heard that before, you know just how hard that would be.


W not in Cards for Cheese-Packers

I was a bit torn watching the Packers/Cards game this evening. I've been a casual fan of the Packers for a long time. Not a "follow them closely"-type of thing, just a "like to see them do well"-type of thing, based on respecting the way they're run, mostly.

And I mostly root for the underdogs. Well, the Cards have been so bad for so long, that even though they were in the Superbowl last year, I still consider them an underdog. So my normal rooting inclination would be for them. Plus, Warner was a lot of fun to watch when he was at the top of his game in St Louis.

Which left me just hoping for a good game. Or good half, really, since I missed the first half. And, man, that was a good half. Well, mostly it was a good half for Green Bay, and not just because they scored fourteen more points than the Cards. Green Bay's defense played a whole lot better.

Actually, Arizona's defense looked like it wasn't even there for much of the half. Green Bay's played pretty well, but was picked apart by passes completed to well-covered receivers (or completed on desperation heaves as the penultimate TD pass was).

And despite having 90 points scored in regulation, the winning TD was on a defensive play? By the defense that was largely missing in the second half? Are you kidding me? I don't think I'd've believed someone telling me that, if I hadn't seen it. That was a hell of a grab by Dansby, getting that in mid-air (which was important, because if it had hit the ground there would have at least been serious replay reviews to settle whether the arm was in motion when it was knocked free. To be clear, it looked to me like Rodgers' arm had stopped going forward before it was hit, but it was awfully close).

And now the Cards play the Saints? Man, I have no idea who to prefer in that one, either. Hope for a good game, I guess.

And, btw, am I the only one who still thinks of the Cardinals as being in St Louis? (For those too young to remember, both Cardinals teams were in St Louis when I was growing up.)


You've Got the Touch!

My wife first bought me an iPod a number of years ago when we were still dating (how many years? It was a first generation iPod; all of 5GB). I used it a great deal for the first couple of years, but haven't used it a whole lot since.

I've debated getting a newer model several times over the years, but kept concluding that it wasn't worth it. When the Touch came out, I debated it again. A year and a half ago (or thereabouts), I decided I'd get one when a 64GB model came out, since that'd hold all my music with space left over for several movies.

Of course, by the time that came out, my music collection had grown to over 70GB all by itself. So forget about putting all of that one there, let alone any movies.

So I mulled it over for several months. But at Christmas time, my wife made up my mind for me, as she got one for me. Fortunately, the options for synchronization have improved greatly since I last looked, but it's still significantly short. Actually, it's significantly more short, since my collection is now up to 79GB. I blame it on Amazon, and their free sampler albums (plus the occasional very cheap album from a band that I like).

I still really need to start playing with the SDK; I haven't even looked at that yet. That definitely needs to change.

Although I've still found a number of very cool Apps in the App Store.

The irony, in fact, is that I almost never listen to music on the Touch; I mostly use it for accessing various Apps. Ok, most of the reason for that is that I can't take it into my office at work. Still, I find it amusing. Yes, I'm easily amused. :)

And movies? I haven't even copied any over. Or photos, for that matter.

Oh, and in case anyone's wondering (especially Transformer fans), yes, I do have the song I referenced in the title on my iPod. Damned good song, even if the only songs I have by Stan Bush are from that soundtrack.

Oh yeah, and I am irked that the Touch doesn't include a camera or GPS. They both preclude some Golf apps that I would certainly use.


A Whole New World

Well, I finally got out to see Avatar this evening. We weren't able to get tickets for the only local IMAX screen, but we still saw it in 3D. So, what did I think about it?

Well, I'm going to break this up into a few pieces. First, they did a trailer for The Lightning Thief beforehand. I read the book a year or two ago, and man, whoever did that trailer should be shot! Seriously, they don't subscribe to the idea that the trailer is a teaser that's supposed to get your interest. They just believe that you should show most the entire first two acts, it seems.

Anyway, enough peripheral ranting. On to my thoughts on this 3D technology (this being my first movie seen with this tech). It's definitely still in the experimental stage. Although it mostly looked fabulous, there were some rough edges. First, anything out of focus looks very weird. It feels like digital noise, although I'm sure there's a better term for it. And some things really looked overlaid (I'm particularly thinking of the seeds of the tree). Oh, and the edge of the screen looked very weird; things right at the edge seemed to get cut off by something that was behind them.

And adding even more to the experimental feel of it were the 3D trailers that led it. They were doing goofy things like putting different parts of the text at different depths. I don't know that it was a bad thing, but it definitely had the feel of the creator saying, "I wonder what this will look like".

But despite all that, it definitely made for a more immersive experience. I can't wait to see more movies made for it. And I wonder if it can be retrofitted (at least, on movies that weren't rendered, and therefore can't just be re-rendered). If it can be, jackpot!

So, on to the movie itself. Before seeing it, I'd heard from a number of people about it, and they almost all agreed on two things: the visuals are fantastic, and the dialog is pretty lame. People's liking (or not) seemed to depend almost entirely on the relative weights assigned to those two factors). I'm generally pretty big on interesting dialog, so this definitely made me a bit leery. But I still enjoyed the movie a great deal. There were two or three fundamental flaws (and several minor ones I'll mention later), but it still blew me away. Seriously, the visuals are that good, and that powerful. I'm not sure if it's possible, but this movie deserves multiple Oscars for technical achievement alone.

They worked on this movie for about twelve years (I can attest to this personally, insofar as I remember hearing about it roughly that long ago. And hearing that it was going to use virtual actors back then, this is not at all what I envisioned. Thank God, because this was far better than the T2-ish stuff I was thinking of), and it shows. They didn't show a whole lot of different flora and fauna (10 or 15 different types, maybe), but the ones they showed were pretty amazing.

I really think the use of color was brilliant; the shades were vibrant, and really made the Pandorans stand out. The way they used many of the species glowing made for spectacular viewing.

And you could see Cameron's fascination with technology, as the computer interfaces were truly amazing. Seriously, I'd love to have a number of the things shown there. The "monitors" that were displayed as, essentially, a large segment of a sphere were incredible. And being able to move an application from one display to another in a very seamless fashion (as shown in one scene) was also a cool touch.

Note: the rest of this will be rife with spoilers, and you should probably skip it if you haven't yet seen the movie. (Really. If you're thinking about seeing the movie, don't read the next eleven paragraphs. They will probably ruin the movie for you.)

So, what were those flaws I mentioned?

The first gets right to the whole premise of the scenario. What does the "unobtainium" do? Why is it valuable? The significance of this is that it is likely that the Na'vi are using this in some fashion, but we never find out if that is so. If not, it seems quite likely that trading could have been worked out to the mutual benefit of the humans and Na'vi.

The second is more of a military issue. When the main character, Jake, arrives on Pandora, he hears repeatedly that it is a hellhole where everything is trying to kill him, and that he should be scared of the natives. And yet, when the humans want to destroy the Na'vi's home tree, they do so without even being threatened. Is it dangerous, or not?

Following up on that destruction is a huge battle, where the humans want to bomb Pandora's sanctum sanctorum, and the Na'vi want to stop them. That's all well and good, and logical, but we see the Na'vi preparing for battle, and gathering from over a large area, without any hint of how they are going to be able to hurt the humans. And so, the battle goes about as you'd expect, until the planet itself turns against the humans (that isn't quite as silly in the movie as it sounds; there was foreshadowing of that being possible). So the silliness is in the Na'vi battle preparations. They were just planning on being slaughtered. There was a hint that they'd be able to do better than the humans due to disruption of remote sensors, but it sounded like a stretch, and was.

Anyway, I just can't see a people committing suicide en masse like that. I mean, this isn't like the Poles fighting tanks with cavalry at the beginning of WWII. At least those Poles were knowingly facing certain destruction so that a) their allies would have time to gather forces to support them (side note: they expected to need to hold out for a week; they held out for three. My respect for that approaches awe) and b) towards the end, it allowed more time for their families to flee the city.

Getting back to the battle, it was, in essence, a bombing run. So the huge amount of air support certainly made sense. It was less clear, however, why there was any need for any kind of ground offensive. It wasn't like they needed to seize territory.

Hmm... I wonder if the story's needs explain the ground troops. That is, we wouldn't have had Jake vs the Colonel otherwise, because the Colonel wouldn't've had his combat suit. Actually, it was still quite a stretch, but I wonder if that was the rationale.

Ok, four other, much more minor quibbles. The first of these actually affects a number of recent movies (even Sherlock Holmes), and it is this: why do explosions not have pressure waves that kill people? The Colonel survived his aircraft exploding around him; that's simply ludicrous.

The second has to do with the cause of that explosion. Jake pulled a missile off of the aircraft and threw it into a turbine. While that certainly would have caused a fair bit of havoc (at the least, it would have destroyed the turbine), the missile would not have exploded because it would not yet be armed. So it would be very unlikely that the ship would go down.

The third had to do with the aftermath. The Pandorans might have won, but there was no reason to believe that the humans wouldn't be back with a better idea how to fight the natives.

The final one had to do with the arrows with which the Na'vi attacked the gunships. When the home tree was destroyed, the arrows were hardly scratching the cockpits; when the big battle took place, they were going through with enough force to kill the pilots. Yes, the relative heights would make a difference, but I have a hard time believing that it would be that big of a difference. To, umm... get to the point, I have a hard time believing that a wood arrow, even at terminal velocity, would be able to get through something that would have to be (at least) the equivalent of modern day plate glass. Maybe if the arrows had a monomolecular-level edge, but there's no reason to believe that they did (after all, it was mentioned them having a neurotoxin in them; you only use a neurotoxin if the arrow itself isn't likely to kill the target. If you've got that sharp an edge, there wouldn't be any reason to believe that the edge wouldn't kill your target).

Ok, so why did I still enjoy the movie? I guess because it was about the people involved, more so than about the battle for its own sake. Of course, I've barely glossed over that part of the story. I suppose that's because that part of it can be summed up very simply in a few sentences, and if I do that, it'll sound stupid. Suffice it to say that I found that part satisfying without being cloying. (Although I do have to ask: if bonding with the animals using their hair was such a big deal, why wasn't it part of them mating?)

It also helped that I was able to ignore the moralizing. There's some irony that a product of several sizeable corporations worked together with the highest technology available for filmmaking to create a film that is both anti-corporate (the humans are all working for one corporation) and anti-technology (insofar as it glorifies aboriginal living over high-tech living). This wasn't quite as heavy-handed in its moralizing as, say, Saving Private Ryan (the last three to five minutes of which completely ruined it for me), but it was still a bit ham-handed.

Oh, and I should also point out that this movie owes a great visual debt to various anime, especially several different Miyazaki films (Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, in particular). And that is only to the good, in my book.

All that said, I still really enjoyed it, and might even see it again in the theater (which doesn't sound like much, except that it's been a number of years since I've seen a movie more than once in the theater). And with our toddler, it now takes quite a bit of planning to get out to see something in the theater. But if I do see it again, it'll definitely be in IMAX.