Sunday, December 27, 2009

avatar, how you sucked, let me count the ways..

i devoted three hours of my life yesterday to the james cameron movie avatar and i would like them back, please. my sister says it's because i'm a snob and just on general principle hate movies that the masses love, but that's not true - i liked the harry potter films and even liked the film of the davinci code much better than the book (which admittedly, may not be saying much).

putting aside the cinematography of the movie, which i understand is ground-breaking from a technological standpoint but which i'm in no position to judge, here's what i hated about the film:

  1. the mineral that the humans were strip-mining from pandora was called unobtainium. how heavy-handed and obvious is that?
  2. the animals depicted on pandora utterly lacked imagination - they were just strangeified versions of  our animals - reptilian horses, neon-lit dinosaurs, dragon-like flying pterodactyls, skeletal dogs - if you're going to dream up a new people and a new planet, have the imagination to come up with something truly new.
  3. calling the range around the tree of voices where none of the advanced flight instruments work a "flux vortex" is trite and unoriginal. didn't we already see that in back to the future and/or 2001: a space odyssey (now THERE's a good film)?
  4. the thin plot could be summed up as a cheesy version of Rousseau's noble savage vs. the terminator. but what else would we expect of james cameron?
  5. the fiber-optic brain transfer thing is another example of how heavy-handed this film is. we are given NO credit for even a whisper of intelligence or ability to understand subtleties.
  6. the final fight between noble, but underpowered savages and ignorant soldiers with all the kit is just trite beyond belief. it's rambo meets terminator meets transformers meets last of the mohicans with a little of dances with wolves thrown in for good measure. a pastiche of references that dissolves into utter unbelievability.
  7. it's at least an hour too long.
  8. after the battle, the humans just pack it up and go home, rather too easily and tidily. 
  9. the theme of nature vs. technology is an interesting one, one which had tons of utterly unexploited possibilities due to the fact that apparently cameron doesn't care at all about story, but only about special effects.
  10. apparently james cameron didn't want to pay ben affleck big bucks, so he found some unknown australian guy who looked and acted quite a lot like him and who he could pay lots less. but it's obvious he had ben affleck in mind.
there were a couple of things i liked about the film. the glowy night botanical world was very cool, even if it could have been plucked out of an 80s disco. and that they said "i see you" to mean "i love you" is powerful. but honestly, i cannot recommend that anyone use their hard-earned money to see this film. it will not enrich your life in the least to have seen it. unless maybe you're a cinematographer or interested in high quality CGI. but the preview i saw for sherlock holmes looked pretty good. 


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for this review, three hours gone. I'm very glad I spent my time on a different movie, which I would like to see at least one more time.

Anonymous said...

its not really my kind of film, and your review has totally out me off it. looking at your previous post, i'm thinking i need to add more creativity to my new year. said...

I'm just not into this genre, so I was spared the three hours. Instead I read a great book... Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral. Loved it! (Now to plan my own traveling funeral... but I'd like to do it before I die so I can have a rip roaring good time with my friends.)

d smith kaich jones said...

My neighbor Mary, who lived to be 95, once told me that life is too short & if the movie is bad, you should just leave. Chalk up the wasted money as a learning experience and just go do something else. :) That said, Avatar just looked silly to me but I am not a big fan of animated anythings. Friends of mine who saw it thought it needed more guns to just kill the bad "guys". If I understood them correctly.

I spent part of Christmas day watching Sherlock Holmes, which I loved and will see again with my boyfriend. I like me a man who can kick some ass. And London looked cool. Go. See.

Mari Mansourian said...

J you made a few really good points and i see why you didn't like it, but for me, not all movies have to make sense sometimes you just want to be entertained with mindless beauty.. you know what i mean, so ya it was fun, and you're right 2001 clearly one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, and sherlock does look good.
oh and you know which part i thought was kinda neat in the movie? is how they used the fibers in their hair to connect with their "horses" and "birds", anyways sorry you had such a sucky time at the movies did daughter enjoy it at least, i know my boys did. :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"Unobtainium"????? Really???
Scheesh. I don't know if I can sit through that. We had no intention of seeing this movie, because we suspected the goings on that you've written about here. However, a friend called the other day and said I must see it for the visuals. I don't know. I'm leaning towards Up In The Air, or the Meryl Streep movie.
I love Meryl.

Amanda Roper said...

I thought the movie looked stupid. I hate it when movies are Intelligent and talk about Issues. I'm too cheap to pay for a movie ticket anyways!

Andi said...

Ugg, my stepson desperately wants to see this one, but it sounds like an occasion to send them off for some manly bonding and stay home to read. Whahahahah!

Word verification: ranter (fitting!)

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

Gosh, I saw the preview and thought THAT was too long and had too much going on while somehow being boring (or better unimaginative, as you said, is a better word) so it's not tempting to me at all.

I am sorry you lose 3 hours of your life on this and I'm afraid you cannot get them back. I have been trying to get my 3 hours back that I lost on Watchmen back in March.

There are way too many over-hyped sucktastic movies out these days.

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

Fascinating! Someone else I known raved for 10 minutes about it. I love vast difference of opinion. I'm curious. Did you see it in the 3D version?

Living with 3 men who are insisting they drag me along, it's inevitable that I'll see it. I'll let you know my thoughts.

Suecae Sounds said...

You madam are a snob! ;)

Just kidding. I loved it, but different strokes for different folks I guess. :)

Polly said...

oh no, I'm ashamed to admit that I really enjoyed this film, even if it was way too long... my taste in films is not great, I pretty much like anything, unless it's a western, I liked all the Harry Potter films too even though I didn't like the books, (but I hated Da Vinci Code the film)

You're totally right about the fibreoptic brain transfer and the animals and the plot. I still liked it though.

Greetings from very cold Krakow

Bee said...

We are going to see Sherlock Holmes tomorrow . . . I'll let you know. I wasn't going to see this one anyway, but thanks for filling me on all of the reasons I definitely don't want to see it!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't seen Avatar yet, so I appreciate the review. I asked my Grandson if he thought I would like it and he said Yes, but it's a piece of fluff. Maybe he's right.

Char said...

yay! I am so happy I declined the invitation to see this last week. I had an inkling that Cameron's writing abilities did not outweigh his "vision". Most moviegoers like that 'hit them over the head' with the message though. I can remember going to see "Slumdog Millionaire" with two people last year that 'didn't get it'.

And Affleck? Why did they pick him, he's an awful actor to emulate.

r4i software said...

Movie was simply great everyone must see it because..The King of the World sets his sights on creating another world entirely in Avatar, and it's very much a place worth visiting.

MissUnderstood said...

I saw it...I happen to watch a movie for what it is...a movie...a way to take my mind into a different world than sitting behind my desk all day. And it did that. So I liked its pretty colors and "humans are evil greedy murders" theme...while I agree with most if not all of your opinions I think sometimes we over think crap like this..its just a movie...and James Cameron..c'mon its hard to follow Titanic anyways LOL..I love your blog by the way :)