Friday, December 18, 2009

Escape to the Movies: "Avatar"

You were expecting, maybe, "Did You Hear About The Morgans?"


http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escape-to-the-movies/1333-Avatar

And, as always, here's this week's "Intermission" column, which is also (mostly) about "Avatar."

14 comments:

David said...

Bob, she's a blue skinned alien catgirl. That's like 8 nerd fetishes in one. Of course people are going to have that debate for the next year. Althought itwill be extremely one sided.

Jason said...

Sorry, but I am not sitting through almost 3 hours of a lame story just to see the CG.

Story first, then spectacle.

soldierhawk said...

Thank you so much for finally saying what I've been thinking for years since I first saw it...

Dances With Wolves is totally overrated. God that's a load off my mind. Phew.

Now, I will have to go check this movie out. I'm still skeptical, but I'm willing to take a chance here on a) your recommendation and b) how pretty it looks.

Kent said...

I agree that the dances with wolves analogy has been very overplayed.

However, aside from the visuals, I would have to disagree with you on this one. Mostly because of the paper thin story. Not only are we offered villains that are one dimensional and flat, but there is not a single redeeming factor between the two of them. Above that we are spared any type of moral question about whats at stake for humanity. Not only is out Magical MacGuffin never explained but we are given literally no insight to what the world is like. I've had people tell me that it isn't important to the story but I hardily disagree, as in general, motivation for actions and knowledge of consequences generally are important to a narrative.

Where technology has allowed this film to have a thriving and interesting backdrop, poor writing and character stagnation has lead to another movie that had me rooting for the 'badguy' by the end. Turning the protagonist into a Jihad-est aside, did any character in the film learn anything? Did any of them change or even have their beliefs challenged? For the price tag, and the amount of detail that went into this movie that is simply not acceptable.

Still all of that I could have forgiven, but the orbital strike of Deus Ex Machina at the end, where absolutely every variable fell to the native advantage, had me nearly leaving the theater. Everything past their going rogue simply infuriated me as the movie went from a simplistic, but very tight technically movie to one where the characters won mostly by "Taking 20" on every roll for the rest of the film. But even that wouldn't explain warship bulletproof glass suddenly becoming vulnerable to arrows overnight.

Again, pretty much any praise given to this movie as far as visuals and scope is appropriate, but remember that we got a much better version of this story with District 9.

Anonymous said...

I thought that it was very good. Yes the story was quite simplistic, but it was well executed. It reminds me of the original Star Wars, with the simple plot allowing you to connect to the universe.

Anonymous said...

Answer to how long it will take for the "pervs" on deviantART to come up with something...pervy? Not too darn long, actually (kinda NSFW):

http://loup-renard.deviantart.com/art/Avatar-of-Chubbiness-142016036

http://drawerofdrawings.deviantart.com/art/Smurf-on-Na-vi-Action-134225612

That is less than I would've expected, though.

Killapede said...

Jake betrayed humanity.

Even the Col. says it near the end.

Jake sides with a group of ALIENS that he has been around for 3 months.

The capitalist company going after the ore is escorted and protected by the military. Specifically the Marines. The U.S Marines.

SO even though they used violence when they shouldn't have had. It comes down to:

AMERICA VERSUS FUCKING ALIENS

and America loses.

CGI is great but I hate movies with lame story and in the end America loses.

Bob said...

Killa-

One point of order: We're not informed as to what, if any, nation "The Company" hails from (we only ever hear references to Earth and "Their World," so I think this is a global-gov future;) and we're told right off the bat that the Marines stationed on Pandora aren't there as part of USMC duty, but rather acting as PMCs. I'm pretty sure that now, here on Earth, one has to have completed their Marine career to do that - not sure what the rules are supposed to be in this particular future.

Robert said...

I'm just sick of the cliche of humans/white people/ the army being evil. I mean I've fairly Lib in most of my veiws but making one side whole sale evil espcailly when it's my f-ing side makes me fume a little.

Steve said...

Okay, sorry but this whole 'humans / whites / the army being evil' thing is nonsense. Have you even SEEN the movie? (SPOILERS FOLLOW) You have a group of scientists going to vast lengths to try and find a peaceful solution including building schools and learning both the local language and customs. The funding for the Avatar program has to come from somewhere and I believe it's established that the corproation paid for it. The army... isn't even IN this movie, it's a group of private contactors with decent hardware but not a great deal of it.

The only real reason the military side go off the deep end is, frankly, that they're scared. The initial attack is done relatvely bloodless, they COULD have gunned down the Na'vi in droves when they were having arrows fired at gunships from distance but went with CS gas to drive 'em out. They only go all out when they're threatened by a group of Na'vi so big they could fairly easily wipe out the humans. It's a pre-emptive strike born of fear... gosh, no, that could never happen right?

Here's what's annoying me about Avatar, people are making stupid comments about it without either having seen the movie or, if they have, refusing to think about anything that's not explicitly shown and spoken on-screen. Remember we actually come in to the story three months from the end of what had to be at LEAST a six year tale (ship takes six years to get there remember), probably a lot longer than that, and so you have to pay attention to what's said and what's implied. The ethics and morality on display are actually pretty deep and hold up to close analysis. No-one is flat-out evil, there IS a solid, realistic explanation behind everyone's actions and there's a good logical progression leading up to the mass attack at the end.

Sorry, rant over, but please ignore the internet critics and give it a chance, you won't be disapointed.

Disco said...

I really enjoyed watching this movie, and it was consistently entertaining and meaningful.

But I still have a few nits to pick. If a race of people live on a different planet, can't they be just a little bit more... alien? Why is everyone allowed to walk around speaking English half the time, constantly displaying human mannerisms? It all just seemed too conveniently human to me. Like you could have had the exact same characters with Native Americans, Africans or Elves.

It all came through as too familiar. The whole planet felt so Earth-like- All the colorful flora just reminded me of Fern Gully. Even the visual exposition felt predictable.

Also, I wish they had touched more on the obvious symbolism of a paraplegic human / able-bodied avatar.

Still, this movie was outstanding, with more emotional grip than pretty much any action movie I've seen before. I hope we see more from Mr. Cameron soon.

Jason said...

Ok, I just saw Avatar. It was pedestrian, rote, and not very entertaining. If you give a guy hundreds of millions of dollars to make a movie then you should expect something special. This movie is NOT special.

I read a few reviews of this movie so I knew what to expect. I gave it a chance, but it is almost a complete fail. The "Dances with Wolves" comparison is VERY valid. This is the same damn movie. Add in a ton of plot holes, terrible dialogue, and some dinosaurs. Nothing original at all.


Oh well. At least I got some sweet 3D glasses to wear for next Halloween.

tyra menendez said...

i know this is late and all, but i've had a bitch of a time trying to actually see the goddamn video, so here goes.

all i really have to say about the writing on this is, simply, that he actually called the mineral "unobtanium". get that? that pretty much sums up every problem i've had with this movie, every time i've learned something new about it.

let's be honest, this isn't the first time cameron has been cheap. terminator was basically two harlen ellison stories cobbled together, so much so, that he was successfully sued by ellison for credit.

so.. yeah. i'm in the "fuck avatar" camp.
oh, and the blue cat chick? scrawny. yuck. also looks too much like a furry.

Joe said...

Great review Bob. I love this film and have seen it three times so far.

I know you usually don't give numerical ratings anymore, but if you were to go back to that practice, what would you give this film?