IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: I'm no fan of the movie "Avatar"...but the exhibit is another matter

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

“Avatar,” the 2008 box office blockbuster, was a bloated bore. I could go into details, but let’s just say I have no desire to see this “Ferngully”-on-steroids again, I’m not enthusiastic about its proposed sequels, and the idea that there will be an “Avatar” land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Florida park makes me question the decision-making in the mouse factory.

The reason I’m telling you this is not to establish any movie-snobbery cred or to convince you not to watch James Cameron’s would-be epic (if you are one of the seven people who missed it).

Instead, I’m sharing my opinion of the film so that you understand I’m not a fan recalling a beloved movie when I say that “Avatar: The Exhibition,” which runs through Sept. 22 at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, is really, really cool.

Organized by Seattle’s EMP Museum in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment, the exhibition features the requisite how-they-made-it videos and movie props—including an imposing 13-1/2-foot-tall Amplified Mobility Suit.

That’s all fine for the grown-ups and older siblings, but I’m guessing most of the Children’s Museum’s core under-10 audience won’t be terribly interested in those since—I hope—they haven’t seen the violent film.

And, unlike the “Star Wars” saga, being celebrated in an exhibition over at the Indiana State Museum, “Avatar” does not have a universe of characters spun off into kid-friendly products. Ask a youngster to name the two robot supporting characters in “Star Wars.” Then ask him to name any two characters in “Avatar.” I’m not even sure if many adult fans of the film can do that.

What the exhibition does well is offer fun, interesting interactives that aren’t dependent on prior exposure to “Avatar.”

Let’s start with the large display screen where, if you stand next to it, computer-generated woodsprites gravitate toward your shadow. Yes, it’s fun to do. But it’s even more of a kick watching kids watch other kids doing it, realize what’s happening, and rush to the screen themselves. (And, yes, it’s kind of like what the still-working-out-the-bugs Virginia Avenue

Cultural Trail art piece, “Swarm Street” promises to be. We’re waiting …)

Then there are the neat-but-confusing-for-kids hand-held screens where, James Cameron-like, you play director and choose the angles you want to shoot while a scene is playing. There’s also a table that shows the pros and cons of bioluminescence for sea creatures in the form of a game where your fish competes against others by turning on its glow to attract food. Careful, though: Leave it on too long and you get eaten by a larger fish.
 

 

 

ae-avatar-grandma-and-boy-15col.jpg Kids construct original virtual plant life at the Children’s Museum’s “Avatar” exhibition. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

Even better for the Children’s Museum target audience are interactives where you get to design plants for an alien landscape, making selections not just of shape and color but also size. For even younger visitors, there are plastic plants that light up if the right orb is attached. Plus, of course, there’s a dress-up area. It wouldn’t be a Children’s Museum exhibition without a dress-up area.

I suspect the most popular area is the one that requires a timed admission. It’s where, one at a time, visitors are recorded while following verbal directions and light-up floor arrows. They are then turned into Na’vi (the native creatures in the film) through motion-capture animation.
 

ae-avatarbig-boots1-1col.jpg Climb into the boots of the 10-foot Na’vi. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

After your visit, don’t be surprised if your 6-year-old wants to see the movie. Just remember that, while the exhibition focuses on the natural world of Pandora, “Avatar” the movie has creature attacks; a non-graphic sex scene; some language you’d expect military folks to use; and some very intense, extensive battle scenes.

And, even with all that, it’s boring.

Sorry, couldn’t help it.

One final note: Congrats to the Children’s Museum for not making attendees walk through a makeshift gift shop to leave the exhibition. Now that’s groundbreaking.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

ADVERTISEMENT