Friday, January 15, 2010

"Unobtanium"? That refers to the plot, right?

*******SPOILER WARNING... KINDA*******

I'm putting a spoiler warning on this, although any adult with a functioning cerebellum could figure out in the first half of the movie what was going to happen in the last half.

The main problem with objectively viewing Avatar is the fact that the special effects blow your mind and you don’t really notice how predictable the plot is until about a third of the way through the movie. This is because the special effects are absolutely stunning and definitely worth watching on the big screen.

The plot, however, was stunning only in terms of its complete predictability.

With a movie of this calibre, the plot should have surprised and charmed me. There should at least have been one surprise, a twist, a play on an old plot device, a cut scene to a psychologist in a chair, saying, “Well, Jake, and when you realized that this was all a schizoid episode after your movie marathon of Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully and The Last Samurai, how did that make you feel?”

I want a movie where someone comes into a native culture and doesn’t make it better on a global scale because they are The Chosen One. I want someone who has to deal with the gritty reality of two conflicting cultures that both have people who walk the fence, who are sometimes good, sometimes bad – you know, real personalities. I don’t want Noble Savages, extremely convenient coincidences or Evil White Men.

I don’t like heavy handed attempts to emphasize that the invading culture is bad, mmmkay? The line "fight terror with terror!" line really capped it for me. Might as well start chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" and include a scene where Jake and Neytiri rescue a bunch of children from the first Na’vi residential school and burn all the pox-infected blankets.

I would like to think that by 2154, some human people might have held in their pointy little heads a notion about invasion and annexation and the fallout that we're still dealing with hundreds of years after the first conflicts between Europeans and the native peoples of the Americas.

"Hey, this situation reminds me of history class..." "Wow, this is kind of like when Great-grandad used to tell us stories about the residential school he had to go to..." "Gee, I wonder how I would feel if someone came to my world to rape it for parts..."

The fact that only a tiny, isolated group of characters on the “human side” feels compelled to actually DO something without being bonded to a genetically modified Na’vi doesn’t work for me. Apparently there is no Facebook in 2154 and no Twitter. No one seems to be getting any information like, OH HAI IZ ON PANDORA WATCHIN RDA KILLZ TEH NA'VI HOMEWRLD OMGLOLZ back to dry, dead, dull Earth. Doesn't 2154 have some kind of envirofreaks with their own cobbled-together interstellar transport with SPACEPEACE painted on it?

Avatar is well worth watching for the stunning special effects, but as a movie, it failed miserably for me. I may buy Avatar several years from now when it’s on sale in the bargain bin, but I’ll be watching it with the sound off.


  1. I kept reaching for the mute button while I was watching this movie. It was horrid but then I realized who was behind it --the same guy who brought the world that dreck "Titanic." Seriously, does James Cameron pay no attention to how people actually speak and interact with one another?

  2. Eh yeah, James Cameron isn't a name that I'd go see a movie because he was the dude in charge.. I'm actually torn about even going to see this film in the theatre because there's other things that I want to see that actually look like they might be *interesting*. I'm glad that I didn't skip out on the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassuss last weekend to go see it like I was going to. At least Terry Gilliam knows how to make you think!