Some Avatar Thought Bombs: Native Style and Spoilery

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I finally got to see Avatar last night and man, was it an interesting experience. James Cameron’s long awaited (and heavily derided by overly angry nerds) film was actually pretty great. The biggest complaints I’ve heard revolve around the story and while I admit that it is a rather simple Fern Gully like tale, it worked for me. The thing is that I didn’t go in expecting some sort of cinematic masterpiece like Citizen Kane. I expected The Abyss or hell, even Aliens level story and got it. I understand I might anger some nerds out there, but the story of Aliens is pretty god damned paint by numbers storytelling. Hell, the unkillable head bad guy was straight out of almost all of Cameron’s other works and it made me watch to watch the crazed Michael Biehn in Abyss once again. Shit, now I’m hoping for an Abyss 3D re-release, though that will never happen.

I will say that I don’t ever want to watch this film in non-3D. There were a bunch of scenes that were way too long, but were only made tolerable by the fact that they were eye candy. I took my 3D glasses off a couple of times just to see what the film might be like in 2D and my immediate sense was “boring as fuck”. If Avatar was strictly a 2D film, it would have to be an hour and a half. Nearly three hours was pushing it in glorious three dimensions, it must be torture in 2D. As it was, it made me ready to watch even more flicks in 3D. I’d even someday spend the cash for a new TV with the new 3D tech that got approved for home use not that long ago, if this is the kind of 3D we can expect in the future.

Going back to the story for a minute, I must note that I went to see it with Babette. She wasn’t really into it, but at a certain point she lost it. The reason being that she can be sensitive sometimes and the fact that EVERYONE starts god damned dying at a certain point didn’t help. Whether it was due to masterful storytelling or a cheap series of overly emotional scenes designed purely to make you sad is up for debate.

There weren’t very moments that awoke the evil, angry nerd inside me except for one. Early in Avatar the head company douche bag (unfortunately not played by Paul Riser) is explaining to the level headed woman that nobody is listening to (amazingly enough played by Sigourney Weaver) that the thing they are mining is worth millions upon millions of dollars and that the natives are in their way. By Crom, of course she knows that! She’s been there for years and she knows all about that shit, because she’s been there for years working with the natives. They might as well have directly addressed the audience at that point with the story telling being that clumsily handled.

Other than that I didn’t have that many problems with Avatar and I ended up really enjoying it. I did wonder part way through the film whether George Lucas was pissed when he saw the film when he realized that not only was Cameron ripping off the idea of a native people defeating a technologically superior foe like in Return of the Jedi, but he was doing it better with far cooler special effects.* That had to whip beardy up into a frenzy.

Oh yeah, before I forget. The fucking robot suits ruled. MOAR ROBOT SUITS… in 3D!!!!!111

* I was hoping for an Ewok military adviser like they had in Vietnam.

  • Jason P

    Probably the most epic single film I’ve ever seen. I was absolutely stunned at how beautiful it was in 3D, and I can admit with no shame that I got a bit teary-eyed during parts.

  • Mandy

    your review sums up my sentiments about the film precisely. Some really lengthy sequences that didn’t add much to the story are horribly entertaining because of all the brain tickling visuals.
    other than that it’s just a fairly well told, simplistic reenactment of the colonization of North America with a drastically different ending. You know, one where the bad guy doesn’t succeed in dashing all hope and crushing all the most meaningful elements of culture from the indigenous peoples.
    3D IS AWESOMMMEE!!!!

  • Vincent

    Jason P, it’s too bad I couldn’t have held your hand while you got all misty eyed.

    Mandy, thanks for the comment. I can’t believe a female that I don’t know left a comment AND it wasn’t negative. That’s twice the win.

  • No doubt if you’ve been 3 or fewer links removed from one of the blogs I contribute to, you know I wasn’t a big fan. (One of my friends loathes it.) I mean, I thought it was alright – it has it’s good and bad parts. But it’s nothing more than a “pure entertainment” kind of movie. What really gets me is all this “best movie of the year” yammering. I have no clue what that’s about. I thought both District 9 and Star Trek were better movies – and even they should probably not be on a best of the year list (maybe).

  • Vincent

    Star Trek was not a better movie. That film was pure popcorn with no underlying message, except that maybe you should try harder to stop Romulus from blowing up. Even if Avatar’s theme was handled clumsily, at least it had one.

  • Star Trek was a more genuine movie….it didnt have an underlying “message” and didnt pretend to have one…Avatar would have you think it does, but if it really cared about it’s supposed message, then it would have tried harder to portray real people and say something new, but instead Cameron would rather spend his time working on cool-ish visuals…ergo, he cares more about those visuals than he cares about the message…in that respect, it’s a disingenuous movie

  • Vincent

    Here’s what Star Trek said to me: Let’s make a “cool” Star Trek movie and disregard everything that makes Star Trek… well Star Trek. While I found it entertaining, it bothered me on some level. One thing that annoyed the fuck out of me was all the lens flares all the fucking time. I’m getting mad just thinking about it. It’s like being shined in the eyes with a flashlight almost the whole film.

  • Vincent

    Oh yeah, here’s what the original Star Trek would have looked like done up the J.J. Abrams way:

    http://www.therobotspajamas.com/?p=1171

  • Yeah, Star Trek was trying to be “cool” a bit too much. I think it would be reasonable to expect more from the sequel – ya know, now that they’ve gone through the introductions of the characters and alternate timeline (which I understand, but didn’t like). I didn’t really notice the flares, but I just watched a featurette and they bring it up. Abrams is so excited about it – “Oh look at that one! That was a great flare!”
    It didn’t bother me but I can understand what you mean.

  • Vincent

    Reid, I think we can both agree that Transformers 2 sucked right?

  • I’m glad you liked it. It seems to have gotten cool somehow to say that you didn’t like Avatar. I didn’t walk out thinking that the story was weak – I thought it was fine. But watching it without 3D…i think it would ruin it. But they’re bringout out a 3D tv soon that you don’t even need glasses for yay lol