Sunday, January 17, 2010

Avatard Out. (Spoilers)

Well, we've all seen the movie, and when it gets to the stage that 7 yo's (Magilla no less!) are seeing it in 3D, then I reckon we've hit saturation point.

For the record, I didn't take her to see it. It was considered to be less ruinous to her psyche than Jurassic Park which she first saw at a younger age.

JP is PG, and Avatard is M, but no matter.

In any case, what's done is done, and I guess the "Green Is Good" message is better for you than the one about "reconstituted dinosaurs will run amok and eat you."

Back to Avatard.

In case you couldn't tell, it's not exactly my favourite movie of the century so far. There have been lots and lots of reviews, which run the gamut of slobbering over James Cameron's sheer, awesomely amazing genius to those who felt it was a cliche-ridden hackfest.

You can guess which camp I've set my tent up in.

So why? When Magilla comes home and tells me it's "the best movie ever!" alarms go off.

I asked her what she learned from it... uh, not sure.

Okay, what did she like about it... it's so cool. The man gets to lie down in this thing and he gets to be an alien. And then he dies and comes back to life as an alien.

Remember that this is the child who came home from Prep telling me that Japanese people are evil because they kill and eat whales, and then comes home in Grade One to tell me that white people are mean to black people.

When comparing Jurassic Park to Avatar, with both of their attendant depictions of violence, first of all, in JP the violence was in context. There was no overt political message of "shock and awe", or fighting "terror with terror."

Also, there was no imagery reminiscent of the Twin Towers coming down, as with the home tree in Avatar.

I know the fanbois and greenies and liberals who believe that America got what was coming will claim that a tree falling sideways is not the same as two buildings falling in on themselves, but for me, it was the scene directly after the tree fell that was most pertinent.

The dust and detritus falling down, the dazed looks on people trying to escape, those are images that I carry with me from that night sitting up and watching towers fall down.

This is not viewing suitable for children.

Considering that most of our population these days consists of people who don't wish to grow up and think for themselves, or make their own concrete decisions, I guess that would mean a hell of a lot of people shouldn't be allowed to watch dreck like this.

I found the film's message to be overt. No need for any sort of subtext when it's all in your face, anyway.

The troops are supposedly ex-Marines, but there is near enough to no such thing (John Murtha excepted), so we can happily accept the troops as being actively serving.

The corporation, RDA, is paying the troops, so not only are they serving, they're also mercenary, which devalues the voluntary nature of the military in the US today.

The main protagonist's labelling of himself a being a dumb grunt is an annoyance when I consider the people I've known over the years from the US Forces (several branches) who are far from dense, and have provided me with plenty of different perspectives on so many issues.

There is actually more than one way to view the world, but unfortunately, James Cameron's comes with blue lighting.

Mind you, nobody - but nobody! - does blue lighting like Cameron. Titanic, The Abyss, Aliens, Terminator all had it in spades. Now, we have a whole world with lots of blue lighting, which glows at night. Even better!

Yes, the cinematography is fantastic, and I now want to see every film with this sort of picture, but how about something a bit more original?

Avatar has been variously called: Dances with Smurfs, Fern Gully in Space, Pocahontas in Space, and so on and so forth.

I've heard it likened to the star-crossed lovers from Titanic or the original and the best Romeo and Juliet, but in this case neither died.

Yes, the FX are fantastic, but Cameron's been Blowing Shite Up for decades now, so he's pretty good at it.

I'm also a fan of Blowing Shite Up, so that's one tick from me.

Apart from the cinematography and the explosions, there's not a whole lot else to go on.

The characters are less than two-dimensional. As RedLetterMedia explains in his 7-part review of The Phantom Menace (part 1 here), you have to care about the characters.

The score is composed by James Horner, but he's missing his beat here. It wasn't the best fit for the film. This is, of course, my own opinion, and it wasn't as bad a match as Morricone's score for Mission To Mars, another dog of a movie.

The Mission to Mars score is beautiful, but it just didn't sit right.

I did get a snicker towards the end when Our Hero flies in to Save The Day on the bloody great big orange thing that I can't remember the name of. The princess had sent him away in disgust, blaming him for the ruination of her tribe, and the minute he appears on the back of the flying monster, her reaction is what Roissy and co would call (excuse the crudity) "gina tingles".

The beta has become alpha in a big way! Shades of the 97lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face.



It's a no brainer in the evo-psych tests.

Look at Titanic, who do you prefer?







It's the same with Avatar. The Jake character is only considered as worthy by the princess when he toughens up and learns to beat the natives at their own games. Even better when he takes on the biggest flying nightmare in the sky, and then proceeds to marshal all the tribes and kick the humans' backsides.

It's a difficult film to recommend, because I think it is totally crapulous. But it looks beautiful, and while there are of course a few of Cameron's signature shots of people running through corridors (watch Titanic and The Abyss back to back if you don't believe me), it's something to behold on the big screen.

A lot of effort has gone into creating his brave new world. It's just a shame he wasted it on dodgy dialogue and cardboard acting.

Like Titanic, it's a perfect storm of a movie.

6 Comments:

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Boy on a bike said...

The mistake that we continue to make as adults is to think that movies are made for People Like Us.

They're not.

They're made for 14 year old boys.

With that in mind, Avatard seems to make perfect sense.

I like the look of the gunships. I know what my job would be on that planet.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Nilk said...

Same as mine, I'll bet. :)

If you want a really good movie, go for Up. Bolt also has excellent characterisations.

You know, where you can actually empathise with the characters?

Something James Cameron lost along the way to being the self-styled King of the World.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Passy said...

I loved Avatar for what it was, not an adults film. I took my son along and we had a great time. As a computer guy, Avatar was a geekfest of image technology. Sure the story was pretty flakey, and very Hollywood predictable, but it was a fresh and unique cinematogtaphic experience. See my review at:
http://passyworldofict.blogspot.com/2009/12/avatar-special-fx-movie-10.html

Enjoy, Big Passy

 
At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

I did get a snicker towards the end when Our Hero flies in to Save The Day on the bloody great big orange thing that I can't remember the name of.

Falcor?

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger MK said...

Same as my take on it Nilk, great visual effect and such, but ultimately just a bit stick-it-to-America leftist wankfest.

 
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