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Notes from the back row

Cameron does it again with Avatar

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James Cameron's Avatar has become the fastest film in history to break the billion dollar worldwide sales mark, doing so in just 19 days. So if you haven't seen the environmentally-charged giant blue alien movie yet, well you're one of the few.

Granted, Avatar 's sales numbers get a boost from the price of 3D tickets - I think they're worth something like 15 bucks each in downtown Vancouver - but it's well worth it. And if you can't make it to a 3D theatre the Village 8 is screening the 2D version but the two hour, 40 minute running time might start to feel long without the wow factor of 3D.

Regardless, Cameron has done it again, and while the story isn't epic, it's good enough. Avatar entertains, engages, amazes and the alien chick is pretty hot - she shoots a bow, not a gun, but she wears really skimpy outfits and has a sassy attitude to boot.

Speaking of sassy, Youth in Revolt opens with the sound of a teenage boy masturbating. And then you get the visual. Michael Cera is at it again playing Nick Twisp, a goodhearted, intellectual virgin who defines himself with the hip music and films he likes but can't seem to drum up enough real personality to get the girls. Kids take note - Sinatra on vinyl and Fellini films are totally cool, but the truth is that stuff won't get you laid (unless you go to art school). Girls like the bad boys, as Nick realizes with a bit of coaxing from love-of-his-life/first-girl-to-pay-any-attention-to-him Sheeni (played by Portia Doubleday).

To find his inner badness and win equally-hip Sheeni's heart and body Nick relies on his "supplementary persona" Francois, a suave, borderline-psychotic with a wicked-thin high school mustache. Hijinks ensue and the story gets more and more bonkers as it plays out but at just 90 minutes director Miguel Arteta ( The Good Girl, 6 Feet Under) is able to keep us at least half-entertained with his dark take on the R-rated coming of age genre.

Having Cera play both Nick and Francois is refreshing because it gives the most typecast actor of recent years a chance to riff on that same old character he's done to death. And he does a good job.

Viewers looking for a deep meaningful meditation on the nature of teenagers can forget it but those who want mushroom and tampon jokes interspersed with dirty sex talk and explosions will probably have a pretty good time at Youth in Revolt.

Speaking of youth, the masses of Twilight fans and that franchise's success have translated into a general malaise for Vampire flicks lately. Vampires are played out. But wait, maybe not. Daybreakers is a slick new film with some freaky-ass bat creatures and a fully developed world in which 95 per cent of the population are Vamps. It also takes a stab at real contemporary issues (you get this sort of thing a lot with zombie movies but rarely with the bloodsuckers).

Ethan Hawke stars as a turned-against-his will Vampire Hematologist working for a big-business blood supplier who mass-harvests blood from any remaining humans they can find. But supply is dwindling and with just enough human blood to last a month, Hawke is charged with finding a synthetic substitute. Instead he finds a group of humans who can cure Vampirism, but of course no one wants that.

The action and look of the flick is recycled a bit and Daybreakers is more sci-fi than horror but it's still a pretty smart film about population mismanagement, the death of the middle class and a bunch of bad-asses in rubber batsuits tearing up the suburbs. Good times.

 

 

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