Just Sit Back and Enjoy The Ride.
"The bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than any of our criticism designating it so." Anton Ego It was December 17, 2009, when I first saw Avatar. To say I was amazed is an understatement. I was blown away by the amazing effects, the 3D, and so on. It truly felt like I was in another world, interacting with creatures and environments that I couldn't even dream of seeing in reality. When I got home, I told all my friends about it. Nearly all of them loved it. Fast-forward to the present. Now it is deemed as a piece of crap, even by my fellow reviewers on this site. Now the words being used to describe it are "cliche, dumb, formulaic, written by a two year-old", the polar opposite of the reactions three years ago. In doing so, I believe that we have overlooked what this film does best, which is also one of the reasons why we even go to the movies; to be transported into a world we know cannot exist. Yes the script isn't perfect. Yes the characters and plot are rather cliche. And yes, it may indeed be a bit overhyped. However, to simply dismiss it due to that is to deny one an extremely creative and immersive experience. What this film aims for is nothing more than to provide us with one of the most fantastical worlds ever conceived in any medium. That world is Pandora, a planet filled with extravagant plant life, animals, and a culture that, while a bit cliche, makes up for it with a way of life that perfects many of the tropes it uses. The opposition is just as interesting, with huge mechas, helicopters, and firearms that may or may not happen in the real world. To deny ourselves of such an experience is a disservice to the film makers that have placed so much thought and effort into the world. Is it a masterpiece? It depends on what you are looking for. If a perfect script with original characters is what you're looking for, look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for the perfect escapist experience, look no further than Avatar. Indeed, escapism is one of the main reasons we go to the movies. Have we forgotten that? While there are plenty that fail, Avatar is not one of them. To simply dismiss the film is to dismiss the creativity of the film makers. That is the death of cinema.
Not for people who want good plot
Plot has always been one of the most important things to me when watching a movie, or reading a book, or even playing video games. While Avatar is lauded for being visually stunning, I'm the sort of person who prefers watching movies with darker and grittier landscapes if I'm actually focusing on the scenery. Personally, I enjoy movies where the scenery serves the plot, not the other way around. Avatar's fine to watch if you want to watch it for its visuals, but its plot was flimsy and virtually non-existent, making the movie not worth rewatching in my books.
Crappy plot needed the Evil Overlord's List.
- If a member of my science team dies and his crippled-but-fixable twin brother is the only possible replacement, I will have the brother sign a contract and fix him before he is shipped out.
- I will not have Starcraft players design my equipment. If I can bring battle-suits and bulldozers, I can bring long-range artillery.
- If I am not dedicated to the cause of evil, I will not have a lunatic as my chief military officer.
- If I am evil, my science/psy-ops team will be screened for such annoying qualities as "mercy" and "ethics".
- If I am willing to wage a war of extermination, I will prepare for this. If my science team can clone them, it should also be able to design contagious bioweapons.
- Prisoners will not be guarded by one guy in an insecure room.
- Hangars will be guarded so my battle-scarred commander does not have to hold his breath and start shooting at them himself.
- If two thousand primitives that I can track from orbit are a mortal threat to hundreds of my soldiers, I will ponder where my life went wrong.
- If I forgot to bring tanks, but have brought lots of large bulldozers capable of easily smashing through trees, I will incorporate the bulldozers in my front line.
- I will give my army weapons that can quickly kill local fauna, particularly if my army is stronger than normal humans.
- Schools that teach English will get as much information from the natives as they can. My entire intelligence apparatus will not be one guy on a vision quest.
- If my top scientist says that the trees are a neural network larger than a human brain, I will believe her and convene my strategy team to use that information against it. And I will actually have a strategy team.
- If I have orbital capabilities, I will bomb things from orbit instead of having people dump things out the back of a shuttle.
- If I'm the vision-quest guy and I need to leave my host body, I will tell my alien girlfriend this well in advance.
- If I find myself leading a tribe of savages against a modern-equipped army, I will teach them at least the basics of guerilla warfare, so they don't charge into machineguns.
- If I win such a conflict, I will demand that the remaining humans develop a defensive infrastructure in case we are attacked again.
- If I have $300M to spend on a movie, I will not pay a third-grader ten bucks to write the script.
Summing it up.
So, This is what I'm gonna sum up that movie in One Conversation Complainer: UGH! I hated that movie
Me:Why? I loved it! the efects were awesome! every single thing looked so real, their skin, their eyes, their hair. All the characters looked so good, the animals were amazingly well designed, even though they were in the background. The plants, the giant mountains, the waterfall, the big dog things at the start, the soul tree, everything looked amazing!
Complainer: Yeah, but the plot sucked horribly.
Me: There was a plot?
It's a must watch, but just because of the effects. If you're a story guy, don't.
Me:Why? I loved it! the efects were awesome! every single thing looked so real, their skin, their eyes, their hair. All the characters looked so good, the animals were amazingly well designed, even though they were in the background. The plants, the giant mountains, the waterfall, the big dog things at the start, the soul tree, everything looked amazing!
Complainer: Yeah, but the plot sucked horribly.
Me: There was a plot?
It's a must watch, but just because of the effects. If you're a story guy, don't.
Had a Nice Plot Twist, Though.
Where to start! When the film began, the stench of old cliches and a poor plot device were already seeping through. Throughout the entire plot, the characters were flatter than a medieval portrait as jumped on by Mario, the character choices were an interesting blend of 'less intelligence than a week-dead cat in a room filled with carnivorous ants' and 'guided by their own brand of logic that holds about as much resemblance and usefulness to reality as a Fox News report.' As I am writing this review, I am eager to move on to the other areas to tear to shreds to fill my daily 'author tears collected' quota, I just don't think I can move past this point. All the human's decisions could be easily shot down by a 6 year old child after taking a dosage of LSD. Why do we have a poorly defended base on the surface where a hostile environment confronts us? So that we can reach the underground mineral, obviously. So why don't you build your entire base underground, where you face neither hostiles, nor an unsafe atmosphere, and don't even need to dig down? Because we already payed for these mercenaries and were going to get our money's worth one way or another! Oh... Kay... Well, if you don't want to tunnel underground, why not use a space laser to kill things from space and solve the native problems (from space), or better yet, nuke them from orbit? Because then we would have no poorly conceived plot, and we already had these alien clone things that work for no adequate reason! Err... Are you, by any chance, a pillock with no justifiable reason to live other than 'makes a suitable grunt?' I can fit a sock on my head! Despite the several hundred year difference in technology between the two species (another point: if the Na'Vi have planet-mind which would logically increase the progress of science, then why are they so much less advanced than humans?) Well, 300 or so words in, and I haven't even scratched the surface of the Marina Trench of pure BAD that is Avatar. So before I end this hate-rant leaving you thinking that I have nothing positive to say, I will focus on its only remarkable point. The good guys lose. Yep, that's the plot twist. The under gunned and primitive aliens beat the space marines and- Wait, the aliens were the good guys? Sh*t, this movie was worse at making me sympathize than I thought. Visuals were OK though. Maybe.
Once the effects fade, a mediocre blockbuster is revealed
Avatar was made over a good part of last decade. This development time is clearly reflected in the visuals, which are still hard to beat and ensured its legendary box office. The action scenes are also spectacular: a shot of the helicopter armada to scale with Dragon flagship and the mining shuttle is breathtaking. However, everything else disappoints. Jake Sully as a protagonist is technically a cripple in a wheelchair, yet acts no different to an able walker in his avatar form. Suddenly regaining motion doesn’t have a profound effect or generate internal conflict you would expect. In fact, Jake’s only character arc is going from a cripple and an outcast amongst humans to a Mighty Whitey savior of Na’vi. It’s not enough for him to just learn all their customs and become a rider: no, he has to gain the biggest flyer on the planet in an off-screen, anticlimactic way. Other characters are no better. Neytiri has no role in the story beyond being Jake’s mentor and love interest: their romance has little chemistry and her agreeing to mate for life with someone she knows for a couple of months is a WTF moment that is again pure Mighty Whitey wish fulfilment. Quaritch and Selfridge act well in their roles but have no characterisation beyond “badass immoral colonel” and “selfish uncaring executive” respectively. Trudy has few spoken lines and is more of a plot device and Grace’s only role is to deliver exposition and put up token resistance. The plot is serviceable by itself, but fails on thematic level. It preaches against pillaging nature, displacing native cultures and urges living sustainably without relying on technology, but all of this is badly underwritten. Na’vi culture is a transparent stand-in for the Native American one, and the film fails to make an engaging case for leaving them alone when the Earth is apparently doomed without Pandora’s resources. There’s no clear push for social reform to temper consumption, reduce the birth rate or divide resources more-or-less equitably: you must live like Na’vi because their condition is already perfect and needs no technology, and if you cannot, you deserve to be doomed. It has little real-world relevance or staying power: in 20 years’ time, it will be consigned to film archives unless the sequels somehow gain in depth. Given that Cameron has already retconned several character deaths, I doubt it'll happen.
In Defence of Avatar (and Unoriginality in General)
If it can be done, it's been done. Originality is not always what makes a film great, and good films that get lauded as original are not necessarily so (Inception for instance). I first saw Avatar three years ago. I loved it unabashedly and still do. At the time, I recognized similarities to Pocahontas and Halo, having grown up with no knowledge of Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, Fern Gully or any other such film. (Yes, this is possible.) This was before I discovered Tvtropes.org. Time Skip Three Years Later... Avatar isn't for everyone. It's a Reconstruction of the Planetary Romance, with some legitimate depth. It tries to be topical, dealing with Some Anvils Need to be Dropped issues like some modern corporations acting like colonial powers and Earth's ecology being damaged. The human technology in the film is high on the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness even if Pandora is not. Jake Sully is sometimes an Idiot Hero, but at least it's lampshaded. Vital information is in the Extended Cut and the official encyclopedia website. The film has a lot less Fridge Horror if you're familiar with either (for example, you'll realize that humanity doesn't need unobtanium for survival, just to make trains and spacecraft work). These are all reasons to watch the film that have nothing to do with the visuals. That's not to say that the visuals aren't impressive. The movie's setting is a mix of Escapism and Wish Fulfilment: both the technology and the flora/fauna in this movie are wonderful. The Na'vi are often accused of being a Mary Suetopia but there are two things to say to this: (1) They're not nearly as bad as Karen Traviss' Mandalorians and (2) That's kind of the point. The Na'vi and their lifestyle are a metaphor/embodiment for a certain kind of Western escapism that the movie is deliberately trying to harness, for better or for worse. The film does not (despite many accusations to the contrary) demonize humanity or technology. It does hype up its Space Elves, but that's intentional. If this (or anything else) leads to Rooting for the Empire then, well, there isn't much anyone can do to stop it, but certain characters did cross the Moral Event Horizon and audiences should not forget that. I, at least, find the protagonists quite likable.
When Avatar first came out, the responses were incredible. Critics gave it two thumbs up and it grossed nearly three billion dollars. Avatar was hailed as a revolutionary picture for its visual effects. Avatar is described as cliche, dull and a rip-off. As entertainment, Avatar is a fantastic movie. Sit back and observe a world filled with weird and wondrous creatures. Marvel at the special effects and the high tech stuff (I LOVE Technology Porn) Ooh and ah at the explosions as the Home Tree is destroyed. Sit on the edge of your seat as you watch the Na'vi and Eywa battle humanity. Root for whoever you want. When you go in-depth a little more, Avatar begins to show some holes. It is a cliche movie. Pretty much it is a copy of Pocahontas with gunships and aliens. However, that does not mean it is a bad story. Avatar does take this cliche plot and gives it some new life. Whether or not you enjoy that or not depends on your own opinions. Personally, I am against the overall idea of the movie though. It portrays the Na'vi as Noble Savages who live in harmony with nature. Yeah, humans try that sometimes. We call them hippies. While the idea of peacefully coexisting with nature is good in theory, the Big Bad Wolf doesn't understand that you want to live peacefully. While there is a limit to how we exploit the environment, I believe human expansion comes first. The way humanity is portrayed in Avatar is yet another cliche. Humans are imperialistic, genocidal, uncaring butchers. I call BS. Yeah, we are definitely handling things wrong. No doubt about that. But I don't believe the Na'vi should be cast as righteous heroes. Humanity is just doing what Humanity does; advancing and expanding. Also, I do not like the portrayal of Augustine and all the scientists as innocent do-gooders. Remember at the beginning of the movie when Selfridge tells Augustine her job is to find a diplomatic solution? Then they send Sully to do that more aggressively? Do they ever actually get around to negotiating? I do not see Avatar as a thinly veiled message that America is an imperialistic conqueror. One way I see it though is, a message about how historical America treated the Native Americans. They were treated pretty badly. Although there are many things I dislike about this movie, as entertainment value, it is a phenomenal movie.
Can I be the one person to say that I thought Avatar's visuals look fake? Yes. I believe that. I think that Avatar's visuals, heralded as its sole redeeming quality, looked fake. I notice this a lot in movies with WETA, their CGI is detailed, but detailed in the same way as a painting is, and still betraying a plastic texture. For their previous films, like King Kong, I didn't mind, since Skull Island, its creatures, and even New York are meant to have a fantasy layer over them. ILM movies, on the other hand, never seems to suffer this problem, at least to me. I look at Iron Man and the Star Wars prequels, even something poorly choreographed like Michael Bay's ''Transformers'' and it's still advanced enough that they look like they're actually there! Avatar tries too hard to be real, but felt like watching a Final Fantasy cutscene. Avatar's plot too suffers, but from a much greater problem: its blatant prejudice and stereotyping. The Na'Vi are the holy, "in harmony with nature", majestic natives, while humanity is little more than an arrogant, overstretched, quasi-empire, yet another thinly disguised expy of America. I went assuming the complaints were exaggerated, only to find them MORE overdone than I expected. And then there's the twisting of its morality. The plot's not just stale, it's evil, justifying the death of over 20 billion humans on Earth for the lives of a single xenophobic tribe who rejected every opportunity they got to negotiate. It's only because Cameron chose to Genre Blind the human leaders that nothing reasonable was done. Overall, this film will be remembered as a spectacle, but grow staler every viewing, in both its story, and its visuals I still find underwhelming. Why is it that people decry George Lucas for "overusing" CGI in his stories, but let off Cameron and his showmanship because of "epic human bashery"? At least Lucas chooses to tell deeper tales of the fall of a man to pride, and salvation of a universe through an individual's bravery. Cameron takes these as a pedestal for Fantastic Environmentalism. For an in-universe look at how the film should have ended, here's my take: http://tuckerscreator.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d42pkyl
Avatar: Acceptable plot, terrible visuals
No, I'm not just trolling. Hear me out. First off, I'm not saying the plot was good. It was bland, cliché-ridden, and the conflict was based on the least controversial issue currently available. Or rather, an issue where everyone (including myself, mind you) stands on the same side, but feels like part of the righteous minority for doing so. What I mean with 'acceptable' in the title is that this fact doesn't really bother me. I think 90% of fiction has terrible plots, so I don't expect much else. Additionally, with such an enormous budget the movie couldn't have had a more unconventional plot. The story is crafted to appeal to as many as possible, because no other approach would have worked. Now, for the visuals. I have nothing but respect for the massive amount of work that went into making this movie. The special effects are undoubtedly well made. However, it's not aesthetically pleasing. I find creativity cheap (I am considered creative by those who know me, make of that what you will), in the sense that the creative part of an artistic process is by far the easiest and most enjoyable. Drawing a few pages worth of concept art for a creature is nothing compared to the work that goes into painstakingly rendering and animating a 3D model of it afterward. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to demand that a film with such a gigantic visual effects budget should have some pretty damn amazing concept art to base it on. In Avatar, this is not the case. Every single alien element was just two or three basic objects thrown together, scaled up and painted bright, 'Windows default desktop background' colors. The environments? Tree but big, cliffs but hovering and forest but glowy. The wildlife? Horse but with dumb nose, pterosaur but four-winged, plankton but in the air. The Na'vi themselves? Eh, that's been ridiculed enough already. I understand that mass appeal factors in here too, but I think that the design could have been significantly more innovative without risking that. Example: Fungus-based alien technology. beige-and-purple landscapes. Oozing, liquid-like predators. Three examples off the top of my head, for free! In conclusion: Avatar is a film solely relying on its visual effects, which are sadly based on unimaginative designs.
It's better the first time you watch it
This movie... Yeah. It's much better for a one-time viewing. After you watch it a second or third time, it gets pretty meh. Despite the generic plot, the movie is kind of fun to watch. The twist of the "guy saves new world and natives from invaders" but Recycled In Space is kind of cool to watch for the first time, but the second time I watched it I just found myself really bored. Like everyone else, though, I will commend the visuals. Even if you don't enjoy the plot or dialogue or characters, you can at least keep yourself entertained by the pretty colors. Avatar has it's flaws but world creating is NOT one of them. The alien creatures are very creative, and I loved the use of bioluminesence in the rainforest setting. Those floating mountains, even if they aren't plausible like some say (I can't tell you for myself, I was never good at the non-biology sciences) they look REALLY awesome. You can tell the designers went all out making the world look as cool and realistic as possible, while still keeping an alien feel to it. A lot of people accuse the movie of having an Anvilicious moral, but I'll mostly stay out of that because some people, like me, think Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped, so your mileage may vary on that one. All in all, it's kind of a cool movie, but it's kind of boring after the first time, thanks to the rather cliche plot and average writing. I do recommend seeing it, though, at the very least for the kickass visuals.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat - that's the movie's actual title. You've probably heard by now that Cameron waited ten years for "the technology to catch up with his vision"; in other words: He knew his story was a crapola Cliche Storm, and he needed some sparkle to sell it. Ten years later, 3-time Academy Award winner (now winner of a fourth for Avatar) Joe Letteri (Lo TR, King Kong, I Robot) delivered, and how. It's ridiculous to think that this movie was made by the same director who has given us some of the best movies - both action and artsy - of the last two decades, such as Terminator, True Lies and Titanic. The cliched nature of the story has already been explored in detail, so I'm not going to go into that. Let's just say that it was an Excuse Plot to get those Visual Effects Of Awesome out there and leave it at that. Weta Digital, under the expert guidance of Letteri, creates an amazing, beautiful world that you can immerse yourself into, so realistically believable, and yet so exotic and fantastic at the same time, that you can't help wishing you could reach out and walk into it right through the screen, without giving a crap that you wouldn't last ten seconds in there before you end up dead. One can ALMOST understand the "Na'vikin" Fan Dumb. Everything else is a complete turn-off. The so-called "hero" is a moron bordering on total Jerk Ass. At no point do we see him do something 'cause it's right - his every action is selfishly motivated. We're supposed to sympathize with this guy? The rest of the human characters are divided by Black and White morality to the point of ridiculousness. The Na'vi are more diverse and realistic, intentionally made of so much vanilla to make sure the audience will sympathize/relate with them more. It's a blatant spoonfeeding of the Humans Are Bastards Aesop that can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Which, hilariously, gets broken into a million pieces when it's the HUMAN who conquers the inconquerable Toruk, unites the warring clans, leads them to battle, and is "chosen" by the Goddess. Oh, and a Special mention to Zoe Saldana for her sheer horribleness. A performance so bad, so much over-the-top and Chewing The Scenery that it reaches right through the mo-cap and makes you want to slap Neytiri in the face. Worth watching, just remember: Joe Letteri's Avatar.
It's not great because it's great. It's great because it looks great.
I follow Roger Ebert's philosophy that all movies should be critiqued on their own terms. Giving a movie a certain amount of stars doesn't mean it is absolutely better or worse than similarly rated movies; it represents how well a movie got to executing it's vision. Many people pan this movie because it is pretty one dimensional character and story wise, but everybody agrees on one thing—that this is one heck of a good looking movie. Even the Oscars agreed with that sentiment. Director James Cameron has always been known as a perfectionist who will go to the ends of the Earth to create an immersive environment that you cannot possibly believe to exist, and yet it is there on the big screen, and off the screen in 3D. The story as many of you probably know by now is pretty standard— a disillusioned soldier finds a way to escape his bleak existence by running away to join a free race of people in an exotic land. He falls in love. War erupts, and he must choose a side. Trope links will guide you to the nearest exit. The messages were heavy handed, and the characters all fell into predictable tropes. But once again I suspend my disbelief of this story to focus on the most complex character, the planet itself. Much like the eponymous ship from "Titanic" The planet Pandora is the star of the show, flaunting a wondrous array of photorealistic CGI fauna and flora. The plants give off an ethereal glow by night while animals act like actual animals. It's Jurassic Park believable. The new, real-time motion capture technology employed in the movie suitably surmounted the uncanny valley and captured the actors' every move, allowing a nuanced performance that usually suffers from railroading special effects into a dolly shot. The 3D was tastefully employed to enhance composition of a scene rather than as a marketing gimmick to raise profits. Much like a Renaissance painter, Cameron is a man of the arts and sciences, his artistic vision demanding the cutting edge to satisfy while gaining inspiration from new discoveries in science. The resultant artwork contains standard themes and subjects, but the way it is rendered gives you the impression that you could just fly right into that screen while an entire world encompasses your mind as if you were transported into a different body altogether.
To beat a dead horse...
Yes, repeat after me: the special effects were a work of art, and the plot was ridiculous. What, you expected me to say something new in this review? Sorry, but the rest of the reviewers were right. As a piece of entertainment, Avatar is great. Just sit back, relax, and watch the sweeping landscapes and beautiful outdoor scenes. Most people who see this movie now will probably see it just for that, and you won't be disappointed. For this reason, I recommend watching at least a few scenes from this movie. The plot and characters, however, should be ignored entirely. The characters are flat: there is no reason for Jake to be the Only Sane Man in a sea of (equally inexplicable) evil bigots, and yet that is exactly what he shows himself to be within minutes, because the plot says so. Quaritch seems to act more For The Evulz than anything else. The Idiot Ball is thrown around liberally. For instance, the film begins with a workable plan to get the Unobtanium from the Na'vi without harming them. It's not exactly morally spotless, but it's certainly not terrible. However, due to the Na'vi being stubborn and the humans being impatient, self-important idiots, this plan is scrapped in favor of the "kill everyone" approach. However, the film's biggest failing is its sheer predictability. Before the film's main plot has even properly begun, it's easy to tell exactly what is going to happen. By the time the movie begins to show Jake starting to identify with the Na'vi, the viewers have probably already played out the scenes in their heads. Predictability is not inherently bad, but in a movie as long as this, Ending Fatigue begins to set in when you try to follow the story. When you already know where a movie's going to go, you're not going to be willing to give it hours and hours to get there. For this reason, while the movie should certainly be sampled to get a sense of the brilliant special effects, there is no need to see the whole film.
Disney's Pocahontas Was Better
It's basically the same story, just on an alien planet and with less dimensional characters. Why Pocahontas was better:
- Better songs.
- Prettier animation (I'm an animated movie person). Except for the glowing plants, those were cool.
- It acknowledged that both groups had flaws, that they were both acting out of fear, etc. The natives weren't automatically "perfect" by the sole virtue of their being natives.
- It's less preachy.
- It had the excuse of being Based On A True Story.
- The main characters were much less annoying.
The Truthiness of Reviews
The one thing everyone can agree on is the spectacular level of digital artwork in this film, few of the reviewers talk about the equally detailed cinematography. The 3d elements are not abused (in that there is nothing rushing out at the camera during the course of it), instead of using the 3d to shock and stun, it is used to immerse. Dust, small insects and droplets of water suspended in zero gravity are used to immerse the audience in the film. I hate anecdotes, but this one I must share: I personally swatted at a few of these 3d images as well as other audience members. The characters, despite claims to the the contrary, do follow basic developmental structure. The problem is that the lead character (and thus the character with the most development) is going through an existential crisis. His injury has robbed him of what he once was, but the death of his brother offers him the chance to step into his shoes and assume that identity. It doesn't fit, and is quickly offered a way back to his old life by Quaritch. It's not just a little thing that Quaritch offers Jake his legs back if he completes his end of the deal. Jake's teaching under the Na'Vi show him a new way of living his life and allow him to discover himself as he really is (hence "Navikin"). The characters and story are weak in comparison to the loving cinematography and special effects, but that does not mean they are non-existent. The other characters largely exist to facilitate his journey, but the performances behind them help elevate their status from "Signposts on the hero's journey" to characters in their own right. Villainous characters are logical in their motivations and develop as any other human being and that is a strength. The story is formulaic in its discovery of the true self in a new culture story-arc. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, as it is all about the execution, and that execution is pretty darn good. Few understand the true formulaic nature of cinema (Edit: Yes, I'm a film snob, so what? Can you track the formulaic nature of all Hollywood cinema? No? Then why admit your own weakness?), and the reviews mostly seen here are a prime example of it. Further, they get up on the philosophies they see in it and match it to their own beliefs and thus lose the film in them. In truth, it's a good movie. Not great, just good.
Need more than 3d glassed to comprehend the stupidity
Honestly if you're keeping me in a cinema hall for over two hours than at least keep me entertained. Even Return of the king which was a good movie for 3/4 just kept going and would put me off repeat viewings. The thing is avatar isn't good at all. I don't care for cgi that much. I am more impressed with stuff like puppetry, set pieces and pyrotechnics. Avatar didn't look so stunning seeing as it didn't look very alien at all. I was expecting Han Solo to land down in the millenium falcon whilst Chewbacka ripped a navi's arms off. No wait that actually sounds way too entertaining so it can't be in avatar. But really pandora feels like its two parsecs of tatooine if you catch my interstellar drift. The main goal of the expedition is to hunt unobtanium which to me must somehow increase brain activity seeing as everyone in this movie is rock-stupid. Avatar has a simple plot with boring one note characters. The awesome navi characters that are ever shown are just stereotypes. Chief's daughter (check), peace seeking chief (check), shaman (check), next in line best warrior betrothed to princess (check). Jake Sully was going to ally himself with the navi fall in love and permanently become one of them (gasp). Don't tell me he becomes the leader or something. Great the return of the white man's fantasy, it is his burden after all. Col Quatrich is the only character done well as he feels commanding instead of being pushed around by the idiotic plot. Instead of sympathising for the navi i get to see this stubborn Col Clint Eastwood do the most superhuman things to this arrogant race. A race that believes they are superior to a those that can level their civilisation from orbit. Col Quatrich for president in 2xxx. This movie makes me lose faith in humanity. Seriously kids will love this because they don't know any better but adults, you should definetly know better. A film like this doesn't have a place in the modern times. It is so backwards that it makes 80s action movies look positively utopian. James Cameron's ego troll. Save the planet by dumping on it.
Special Edition: 8 minutes that should have been in the original release
At around $1 million to produce each of those extra eight minutes, I believe the investment on this "Special Edition" was a good one, as it gave the film some desperately needed depth to the plot and characters, as well as explaining some plot holes. Before the thanator attack, the field team resupplies at the abandoned school. Grace notes how very quickly the Na'vi learned about human culture. Jake notices bullet holes in the chalkboard. It is obvious this refers to Grace's accusation of Selfridge making things worse by "using machine guns on them". It is the Noodle Incident that will haunt Selfridge and escalate this conflict. The most important addition is the native response to the destruction of the Tree of Souls. The war party not only destroyed all the bulldozers, but killed the escort team. "Papa Bear" snaps. The discussion between Selfridge and Quaritch takes on a whole new level as Quaritch is trying to restrain himself in his promise of a "humane" demolition while Selfridge is contemplating the unraveling situation. Because of this inclusion the audience can relate to Quaritch and the security force when they perform the demolition with such enthusiasm, not to mention Selfridges's conflict of interest: Jake's last chance to warn the tribe was Selfridge's attempt at salvaging the situation he created. He only realizes what he has done after seeing what he did to Hometree. This also explains why Quaritch turned into such an unflinching monster; his comment to Jake "betraying his race" is a reflection of his revenge scheme gone all wrong, pinning the blame on the hero, and hoping to kill him in a blaze of glory. This following scene is more symbolic, but tied up the story as well. After Tsu'Tey (the new Chief) gets shot, he does not die once impacting the ground. After the battle is over, he bequeaths Jake the Chiefdom. An emotional scene ensues as Jake must euthanize his mortally wounded Chief. He recites the prayer given to hunted animals as he does so. This is the third time it has happened in the movie—each kill more important than the last. The original movie was cut for time, but it also cut a lot of content out. Other scenes explain how Jake becomes a sky-hunter, and includes a more subtly intimate beginning, middle, and end of his relationship with Neytiri. Good call, Cameron.
Preachy. Annoying, Stupid...
But with good effects. I know, you have probably heard TONS of reviews like this, but that is what this movie is. A lame, annoying, preachy, and manipulative story with 1 dimensional, unlikeable characters, but with good effects. Good effects are not always enough to save a movie, best demonstrated here. Ok, let me explain, lets start with the story: Like I just said, it is lame and cliched. It tells the most overused story ever told, where the Imperialist assholes come down looking for land and oi- I mean, Unobtanium, and have to use violent methods to remove the local population. The characters are even worse. I will admit there is 1 or 2 good performances, and 1 REALLY entertaining, yet terrible one (you know who I am talking about), but no actor could've worked with this material. The characters literally have no depth, they exist only to do what the plot demands, even if it makes no sense to their motivations. None of them go beyond their cimple stereotype, and that bothers me. As for the themes, well... They, like the rest of the movie, are annoying, overused, lazy, and preachy beyond all belief. I hate these movies exclusively invested in making me feel guilty as an American, because of all the horrible things that my ancestors did to the native Americans and the blacks. I get it, they were bad people and I should feel bad, so shut up about it. But the native Americans were not perfect either, what with the Aztecs sacrificing hundreds of people on a temple, or pretty much every tribe executing war crimes. The Na'vi are supposed to be perfect too, but like the native americans, you easily notice they are not. Just look at the "itjustbugsme" page, under the broken aesop category, that explains it better than I can. Now, I know I have been bashing this movie a lot just now, but the movie is not god-awful. It is mediocre, but its not bad, it has some good performances (especially from the guy who played Quartich and the girl who played the girl Na'vi, I dont even remember her name) and the effects are fantastic. But its not a masterpiece, despite what many say, and that is why I hate this movie so much, not because of the film itself (well, that too...) but because it was advertised and hyped up as being a masterpiece. Its not. Its just OK, so just go watch it once, then never again. Its not worth sitting though it for more viewings. C-.
The only reason to see it is for the effects...
...and I mean that in the best possible way. It's no secret at any point in the movie that the story for Avatar is, to use just a small fraction of the negative words applied to it, preachy, dull, cliched, done-to-death, and plagiaristic. But it's also not much of a secret that the story is, was, and always has been second pickle to the special effects James Cameron set out to revolutionize from the get-go. Here's why he succeeded. The thing that makes special effects so derided in modern cinema is not usually their quality, but their integration into the real-world scenes. A commonly-used example of this sort of thing is Star Wars; the hand-made spaceships and sets of the original trilogy are much more interesting to look at than the computer-generated spaceships and sets in the prequel trilogy because they exist in reality, were made by people, and have a tangible history to them. Reality is reality, and watching reality being mixed with what you know was made inside of a computer is jarring at best, and deal-breaking at worst. But with Avatar, the knowledge that the breathtaking landscapes you're witnessing are all being made inside computers actually enhances the experience rather than detracts from it. It's computer-generated, but the world generated in that computer is so large, active, and alive that it actually manifests itself as a separate reality in your mind. It's almost like the worlds of the more big-budget computer games in that regard; you could see yourself walking into it much like one walks around Azeroth in World Of Warcraft. So if you haven't seen Avatar already, watch it as soon as you can. To say that you'd be watching the most unbelievable computer-generated imagery ever created would be doing it a disservice.
Fails to bridge uncanny valley but beautiful all the same
In this review I intend to focus on the CGI of Avatar. Everything to be said about the story and characters has already been said, and the consensus is so overwhelming that I won't devote any ink or server space to my own thoughts on those aspects. Two months before Avatar came out, a profile of James Cameron appeared in The New Yorker saying, "The digital elements of Avatar, he claims, are so believable that, even when they exist alongside human actors, the audience will lose track of what is real and what is not." That's a pretty bold claim to make in 2009, and I basically took that to mean that the film would be a Gollum-killer, that it would handily beat both General Grievous and prequel-Yoda in the ultimate 2-on-1 lightsaber battle of CGI chops. Watching Avatar on DVD, however, I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong: the CGI of Avatar is beautiful. Pandora is deeply immersive and boasts virtually the greatest CGI Scenery Porn of any film to date. Artistically it is quite astounding, and little willpower is required of the viewer to maintain Willing Suspension Of Disbelief throughout the film. That said, I didn't find the CGI even marginally more convincing than other landmark films of the past two-and-a-half decades. I follow the school of thought that the best CGI is unnoticed — seamlessly integrated into the picture. Avatar takes a different route, instead using CGI liberally in order to make the film beautiful. Avatar demonstrates this quite magnificently. But in terms of character models, this really isn't the Gollum-killer I'd been led to believe I would see, as the CGI elements were all plainly discerible. In fact, I don't know if the character models are any more realistic or convincing than those of Square-Enix's 2001 feature, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Avatar shows that a film can use CGI as an extensive art medium that, in the right hands, can produce an engaging tapestry of characters and environment. But it also demonstrates that the Uncanny Valley is something we will just have to deal with, regardless of budget and technical prowess.
A common misconception
Despite what most people might think, the movie Avatar is not about marines coming to an alien world to mind for a mineral and the subjection of the indigenous population. You may remove your head from the wall now . The movie is actually about Pandora itself. Its about taking the audience on a three hour tour of an alien planet rich with flora and fauna that don't exist here on earth. It's about exploring rich landscapes, with alien geography, and alternate forms of biological interactions. As evidence I present the six elements of drama, Plot, Characters, Theme, Dialogue, Spectacle and Music. Plot, Characters, and Theme are all at the bottom. They are definitely paper thin and truly unremarkable. Dialogue and Music take slightly higher positions, but it is Spectacle that takes the cake. And the Ice Cream. And all the presents. As further evidence, towards the end, when we have finished seeing one area of Pandora, the movie takes us on a sample of several other locals. Besides, look where all the money and research went to, the state of the art motion capture and 3D cameras. So to everyone who bashes the movie for being shallow and unoriginal, you are missing the point. It's like criticizing the thanksgiving day parade because its just a rehash of last years.
Stop Hating On It
I'll be straightforward and brief. I disliked this movie. It was stupidly political where it could have been making a point. There were fail military tactics, such as ignoring Quadritch while slaughtering all his troops around him for the lulz. (But killing people is fun to watch!) There were overly melodramatic scenes mixed with narm when everyone died at the end. There was the mass deportation of humans at the end, securing the planetary borders of Pandora indefinitely until some greasy Muggle dare come back and mine resources and money to send back home to our dilapidated Earth. Well whaddya know, the citizens of Arizona are true pioneers. But in the end, it was just another film, no more or less enjoyable than most others. Better than most comedy shtick out there. Works decently as an action-drama if you take out the anvils. My only real complaint is the length - by the end, I was wondering when the movie would be over (the plot being fairly predictable), and that's never a good sign. The graphics were great, but I certainly weren't blown over by them. This is probably because I, like many of the future viewers to come, was watching it in 2D on my TV at home. The graphics were good, and the details were extraordinary, but for someone who rarely watches live-action and takes in a lot of animation and video game graphics, it was just what was on the screen. Sure, in retrospect, Avatar probably has some of the most realistic graphics I've ever seen in a live-action film. But I wasn't paying attention to the graphics, I was watching the movie for the movie. tl;dr version: Avatar is just a movie. Stop hating on it, it's not that bad. That said, it's not a visionary cinematic work either, so don't expect that. Watch it for the same reason you'd watch any other decent film.
I can't think of a title.
As TG Gecko said, the plot, original as it is, was mostly an Excuse Plot for the Visual Effects Of Awesome. Pretty much, it feels like a tech demo. As for the plot, it's So Okay Its Average. Maybe an Expanded Universe will come in and make it better, but until then, it's just Visual Effects Of Awesome and the new Klingon language.
Surprisingly subtle conflict
My reaction to Avatar overall seems to be nigh-universal: loved the effects, bored with the story. However, there is something else to love about Avatar, and that is its villains and its heroes. Given some of the things I've heard, I honestly expected the humans to be in the Complete Monster territory. Instead they were several levels above what could be expected from colonists in recent times. They honestly seemed like they've learned from invasions past, even if this learning did not turn them into saints. When they wanted something, they tried to negotiate and trade, at great expense to themselves. Even when they finally resorted to force, they used measured response and always tried to inflict the least damage possible. They were still the villains, but they never seemed out-and-out evil, especially given that, as this very wiki points out, they had no less than seven different ways of wiping out all the Na'vi to start with. On the other side we have Na'vi, who are less than totally sympathetic as protagonists. Sure, they get points for their religion of unity with nature being based around hard scientific fact, but that doesn't change the fact that living in harmony with nature is not necessarily a good thing for a society. They are still hunter-gatherers, with all that entails. They appear to respect only warriors, which means Pandora is probably not a good place to be frail but studious. They have close to zero respect for other people and their ways, being one of the most self-centered cultures I've seen. And of course they have arranged marriage, which will offend many Western sensibilities. Whatever Jake may think, the Na'vi culture is far from perfect. So, there you have it. It's villains who can be villains without becoming monsters vs. heroes who can remain heroes without being correct. By paying attention to the surprisingly intricate way every facet of this conflict plays out you can definitely up your enjoyment of Avatar.
Got the Oscars it deserved.
A common criticism of this film is that it is all style and no substance. While I don't think this is all true I do think that the story suffers for the visuals in this story. More than once I went "what is meant to be happening again?" when I could tear myself from the spectacle. The fight scenes are awesome, but don't make a whole lot of sense. The plot too causes holes in the verisimilitude of the Hard Science story, how can a company really be operating with a multi-year lag between decisions and enactment, between projections and reality. All in all, the more I look at it, the more the seams start to show. And yet I enjoyed it at the time. The ride was good and when things where actually moving forward it was wonderful. It seems that Hollywood agrees with me, this film won for cinematography, visual effects and art direction. This film got 3 Oscars for looking pretty, and none for being entertaining. As well it should. It does look very pretty. Very pretty indeed. And that is no small feat in this age, looking good is HARD and requires lots of work. This is not a bad movie, but not on my top 10 of 2009 either. One more thing though. Of the three films I saw in 3D last year, this is easily the worst at using that tool. UP was ok, mostly adding to the size of scale but Avatar poked me in the eye with it. Of all the 3D films, A Christmas Carol did the best job. Why? For the same reason that the 3D shots on the cryoship where the best in Avatar. They used it for depth, to move into the screen, not to poke out of it. Not only is this more like how our eyes work in effect (making it look like a window into another world, which a cinema screen is) but it also avoids having HALF a 3D rifle pointed at you. Oh, and can people stop making the Captain Planet comparison? It's just petty.
Despite its plot issues...
...this movie was great. I must admit that I was incredibly turned off by the Mighty Whitey aspect of the film, which always bugs the crap out of me in every story I've ever seen to employ it. The idea that any outsider could come into a strange civilization, and not only learn the ways of the tribe, but become BETTER at it than the entire tribe, woo the chief's daughter, and then BECOME the chief just doesn't fit within my willing suspension of disbelief. I was also a little disappointed by Sam Worthington's inability to hold a believable American accent; I have no problem with an Australian accent, but I like my accents to be the same in the beginning of the movie as they are in the end. It's a consistency thing. They would have been better off having him keep his accent and saying he was born on an Australian military base to justify it. It's not enough of a problem to ruin the movie, but it's definitely noticeable. Those complaints aside, however, and despite the fact that the entire plot was almost 100% predictable (You say "My great great grandfather was one of only five people in history to ever tame the Toruk, and he united the tribes." I say, "Jake's about to be number six. And I bet he'll unite the tribes!" Guess what?), the movie was truly an amazing and immersive spectacle of modern movie making. And I don't just mean the special effects or the fights, either - those were amazing, beautiful, and heart-racing, but they weren't what made the movie great. What made this movie great, in my book, was the absolute brilliance and sheer level of detail put into the development of the world of Pandora, and the backstory behind it. I'll excuse the fact that Polythemus is a gas giant in a star system where scientists believe a gas giant couldn't exist. The Na'vi were brilliantly designed, the flora and fauna were impressive and unique (even if noticeably inspired by some earthly analogs), and the history (especially if you check out Pandorapedia - or, even better, the Avatar Wiki) is very impressive. Final word: Regardless your thoughts on the story, the movie is an immersive and memorable experience for the watcher, and in my book, it gets an absolute A+. This will be on my favorite movies shelf for quite some time.
Characters ARE kind of flat, but I couldn't care less.
This move is cliche. This movie has little character devlopment. This movie is fun. I stilled enjoyed it. The action was well done, there was enough variance from the standard tropes (in my opinion) to still entertain me. The visuals were exactly like you heard: gorgeous. James Cameron was incredibly imaginative. I actualy liked the reason humans are on the planet: they are looking for something mundane. The audience is supposed to accept. Some people don't like a whole explanation. TV tropers have to think like other people too. (i Actually would have liked some info, but it was a long enough movie.) The evil guy (honestly don`t rember his name) is badass. Now on to my complaints. Yes, I agree with everyone: it was full of cliches, there wasn`t any character devlopment, and Jake (or Jack maybe)`s accent slipped and he started sounding Australian after a bit. Also, some unique complaints: I`m pretty sure the whole idea of connecting with the trees, is ripped out of Speak for the Dead. They have the same tree worships in that book (the aliens, piggies), but because it is a book the author can actually can explain how the pig alien things can communicate with the trees, and their àncestors`. Plus, Jake teach the Na`Vi anything. He could have told them something even really basic. We shouldn`t assume the Na`Vi have tried everything. Overall good movie, but with issues preventing it from being ``great``.
so okay it's average
Due to all the hype, I finally got curious enough to get the DVD and see the film. I have to say, while it's definitely not the second coming, it's not quite So Bad Its Horrible and all the people looking into all the offensive under/overtones might be overthinking the movie. The first half-hour or so was physically painful. I thought Jake was a complete moron (you're a soldier not some stupid bratty kid with no common sense), I think the only reason I didn't wish for him to die a painful death was because he hadn't kicked any dogs. But after the Na'vi take him in his idiocy was kind of endearing in an Idiot Hero sort of way. I also didn't mind because otherwise we'd be going into Mighty Whitey Mary Sue territory. Now I will address one of the biggest complaints about this movie: Jake being Mighty Whitey. Honestly, if the writers had been really careful maybe they'd have fleshed out a couple other Na'vi characters besides the Proud Warrior Race Guy and The Chiefs Daughter, and have one of them do the important leading in the final battle (or hell, even pray to Eywa, I thought it was too ironic that Jake would be the only one to think of that) and have Jake help out but not be fully responsible for their victory. But it's only a 3 hour movie and he's the protagonist, so the writers were on time restraint and all that. So I didn't make too much of it. I will say though, the one thing that broke my Willing Suspension Of Disbelief was Jake taming the biggest Giant Flyer. None of the Na'vi had seriously thought of doing that before? He made it look easy. But maybe Eywa interfered so that could happen, since Jake was part of a prophecy blah blah, and a similar thing happens with Neytiri and the dire wolf thing later that was obviously Eywa's doing. I don't quite get all the hate for the Na'vi either. They're shown to have actual reasons to be in tune with nature and all that jazz, I thought that was more relateable than a purely mystical rehash of religion. There was one Wall Banger moment (trying to shoot sticks at guys in flying tanks? Great idea!), I was hoping they'd be more creative/resourceful/smarter than that. So Yeah, definitely a flawed film, but I am not understand of the huge hatedom. So Okay Its Average.
Caught me off-guard
I went into the movie completely expecting to be preached to. I expected to see the most generic natives-beat-whitey plot in the world working in tandem with a message I could have gotten from Captain Planet. I braced myself to try and ignore the simplistic environmental, anti-imperialist anviliciousness. As a result, those parts didn't bother me as much. I mean, I sighed audibly with the "they killed their mother" speech, but that was the worst of it. I was not prepared to be bored to tears. The characters are so utterly bland, and the plot so completely trite, that it fails to be interesting in any regard beyond "it looks pretty." The world they constructed is presented with such a paucity of depth that it makes me ask, why even bother making Pandora so detailed if you're not even going to put that detail in the movie? The characters are so utterly generic that I was wondering the entire time if Cameron was being serious. I can't even remember their names. I just call them Jarhead, Tsuntsun, Angry military guy, Amoral corporate guy, Scientists 1, 2, and 3, and Sigourney Weaver. The Na'vi culture, similarly, seemed skeletal. They respect the wildlife, they are warriors, and they worship their tree-goddess that turns out to be sort of real in a manner strongly reminiscent of the native americans. This describes their entire culture. I realize a two-hour film isn't enough to deeply explore social norms, rituals, and the specifics of their religion, but did Cameron have to present it as the theme park version of native american culture? That said, there were some parts of the movie I liked. For one, the bit of humor in the beginning. There wasn't much of it, but those little bits were genuinely funny. Also, it at least tried to be realistic. It failed, but at least it tried. The initial battle was a curb-stomp human victory as expected, and the Na'vi victory at the end was clearly pyrrhic. the various aspects of space travel and the ecosystem were well-presented, the "twist" where the ecosystem was sentient is at least a passable handwave, and of course the visuals were nice. The thing that saddened me most about this movie was the wasted potential. Everything about this movie, from the characters to the setting, felt like it could have been improved massively with relatively little effort.
I disliked Avatar for many reasons. The biggest problem this film has is it's narrative, which is surpassingly thin, even for a Hollywood film, and stratched out longer than it should have. Indeed, the films lengths are one of the worst things about it. As the story is so cliche and utterly familiar to anyone who has seen Fern Gully or Pocahontas we all know how it is going to end and there is not a single scene which the viewer could not see coming from a mile away. As far as the central themes of Environmentalism and Peace go, they are superficial and targetted at morons, it woul appear. The Na'Vi are peaceful... yet the go to war against the humans. The Na'Vi rever and respect the environment... but only because it turns out they have a legitimate scientific reason behind doing so, which benefits them. The lack of explaination on the films main elements (The whole reason the humans are on Pandora is handwaved away in a sentence), character development (When did Sigourney Weaver become a likable character? She was a total bitch. When thousands of Na'Vi die Jake feels sorry for himself but when she who insulted his diability and dead brother outright and often dies, he feels empowered to save Pandora? What?) and overall lack of sophisticated themes which could have been developed into a much more satisfying story based around the actual premise, ruin the film. The film also looks awful. One can only wonder where the budget went when the film goes from real-looking humans, to clearly computer generated aliens (By the way, the aliens look just like people. But blue.)
Cameron has lost his shine
While I've only seen a handful of the works of James Cameron, I've been impressed, Alien was one of the few horror films that I've actually enjoyed and I've found his gift for realistic and impressive effects matched by his sharp writing and the inspiring acting he gets from his crew. Cameron must have lost something in those fifteen years, no more are the effects just a medium for presenting his vision, no more are the monsters a support for the plot. In Avatar, the roles were reversed, Cameron attempted to hide the flat writing and underwhelming acting underneath the (awe inspiring) graphics, and guess what, I didn't buy it. It seems funny that this script, supposedly so epic and ahead of its time, needed fifteen years for the technology to catch up to it, was the weakest part of the movie. You could take any plot, and throw this much money and talent at it, and you would've gotten a better film. Another thing is the disappointment in this film, the hero was flat, and you could see his development from the first ten seconds of trailer, which is totally retarded! This movie had three hours to work with him, and I still have to go to IMDB to remember his name. The villains were cartoony, yet the plot took its self so seriously I couldn't even enjoy it as a cheesy action flick. The few good performers were shuffled of to the side so we could enjoy more typecast pretty people talk in boring platitudes I've heard a thousand times before, a thousand times better. I know that nothing is truly original, but you can at least try. Cameron used to be the man people knocked off, now its the other way around, with Cameron stealing designs, plots and characters from himself and everybody else. I don't know if Cameron stopped trying or if he's run out of ideas. I did enjoy bits of the movie, but those good bits were far and few between, and the overall blegh of the film watered all the good parts into a thin gray mess. I for one never stopped smiling whenever Colonel Miles Quaritch was on the screen. Seriously, cast this guy in every movie that could feasibly have him, he'd make everything better. But the mustache twirling was ruined by the dull plot and boring as hell protagonist. This film does give me hope, for I now know that my dream movie adaptations of Metal Gear Solid and Warhammer 40 K can come to fruition.
Pretty isn't the same as interesting
Avatar reminds me of my first crush: pretty to look at but not much going on below the surface. I went in having heard about this revolutionary work with all these daring messages on issues like war and racial oppression, but didn't see anything more sophisticated than what you'd get from watching Captain Planet. It's another of those movies about the white savior who unifies the oppressed indigenous people against the society he turns his back on. Natives who are, par for the course, portrayed as having it all figured out versus a bunch of might-makes-right assholes. The filmmakers actually named the mineral macguffin "unobtainium," and the Na'vi are literally at one with nature, able to directly plug their brains into the trees and animals of their ecosystem. I didn't say "Cool," I said "Could this be less subtle?" Sure the CGI was impressive. I'm completely prepared to give props for that. But by the time the big action extravaganza had started I had long since given up. No amount of sleek alien pterodactyls fighting spaceships could hide how uninvolving the story leading up to it was. I wasn't cheering for Jake to open a righteous can of whoop ass on the Colonel when they faced off in their fight to the death. I didn't care when the princess called him a traitor. I didn't care about the characters the story revolved around. With how they were about the barest stereotypes imaginable, it's not surprising. They could've been interesting, but all the effort seemed to be going into creating the world rather than the people the "story" followed. It just makes it worse that Cameron had been working on this for years waiting for the technology to catch up. As if he had been banking on the imagery to sell the movie the whole time. Sorry Jim, but if I don't give a crap about the characters or plot, all the stunning CGI tableaus in the world won't make your movie entertaining. And this was hyped way too much to be a movie where I turn my brain off and enjoy the ride. But that's the real problem: all the hype of Avatar as this awesome movie that would change science fiction forever created a level of anticipation few movies could live up to. Without that, I probably wouldn't have seen this as anything worse than a decent if Anvilicious movie. As it is, all I can do is quote a certain critic's acidic reaction: "That's it?"
Predictable but worth it.
[[Film/Avatar Avatar]] doesn't bring anything new to the table. We've heard it all before: star-crossing star-crossed lovers; greedy, exploitative humans; becoming One of Them, and so forth. That being said, James Cameron's sci-fi schlockbuster takes all these clichÃ©s and breathes new life into them. The 3D is incredibly effective, making The Polar Express look like a film student's work. The alien flora and fauna of Pandora is breathtakingly brought to life. The action scenes are exciting. Colonel Badass Quaritch is unbelievable. The Na'vi keep what little clothes they wear on, thank God. Admittedly, Avatar comes bearing one of the most Anvilicious Aesops I've seen in a while, and the storyline is as predictable as an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos. But the CGI and shockingly believable motion-capture performances make it all worthwhile. My first words as the end credits rolled were "Holy freaking crap!" followed by "The mech had a knife!" Go see Avatar. Go see it now. If not for the alien romance or the blatant Humans Are Bastards Green Aesop, at least for the action scenes. This film may have hands made of green ham, but it has a heart of pure awesome.
Good.....Could Be Better
Avatar gives off conflicting reactions. I would flip back an forth between "This is awesome!" and "This is so cliche and predictable." It looks promising in the first half when you get to see the planet, at the part where Jake gets his first Giant Flyer, and the air battle and final mech fight was cool. These parts alone should be enough to warrant seeing it in a theatre. But it's like everyone carries the Idiot Ball in this movie. After all, if it's not obvious the Na'vi won't move at the beginning of the movie, it is by the time its mentioned that they live in a giant sentient tree. And Neytiri's parents are idiots in that they engage her to one guy and then let her train and spend time with Jake and act suprised when they mate. Then there's the whole Mighty Whitey aspect, which might have been justified but wasn't. Jake could have taught the Na'vi about human weapons, try to figure out how to make explosives using the alien chemistry, lead an elite team of flyers to steal the explosives during the battle, or at least talk the ground forces out of making a suicidal frontal assault (at least the speed and manoeverability of the Giant Flyers could offset the metal helicopters for a fair fight). Of course this just might be me wishing Jake would grow a brain and act like Paul Atreides or Lelouch. Instead he goes and gets the bigger Giant Flyer despite being the least qualified person to do this, the movie skips over the fight, and shows him afterwards without a scratch. Then there's the whole business of Eywa being a real god, and yet all she does is provide a "here comes The Cavalry" moment near the end. YMMV, but I think Avatar would be a better movie if Jake failed and Eywa sent a giant monster to annihilate the humans Eva style, while Grace lectures Parker about trying to take over a world he knows nothing about right before it kills him.
Physically painful to sit through
Avatar was something I'd been looking forward to for some time; a new James Cameron movie, full of new ideas, interesting characters, and a story about the environment that was supposed to be interesting and enlightening. Oh, and 300$ million dollars worth of CGI. Although put off by the budget, I decided to go see it anyway, expecting that it might possibly be good as Alien or Aliens. Well... Holy shit, did this movie suck. The plot is cardboard thin, and the characters make no sense, bouncing from motivation to motivation for no apparent reason. Are we supposed to hate the main corporate guy, Parker? Then why show him looking so sad all the time? Are we supposed to respect the military guy? Apparently, he just suddenly became the chief villain, despite being the only likable character in this piece of crap. Why did Trudy the pilot switch sides? She wasn't friends with anyone in the mean time, really, and there was no practical benefit for her to do so- nor had she spent any real time among the Na'vi (the movies human elements). For that matter, why hadn't anyone on earth thought 'gee-whillikers, these Na'vi guys sure are a lot like our Native Americans, hurp durp!'. And among all *that*... The graphics didn't even impress me that much. Maybe it's just games like Crysis that seem superior, or the fact that I'm a Dwarf-Fortress playing guy who needs less, but all I kept thinking was... A 300 million dollar environmental fable - wonder how many holes in the world Cameron tore in his relentless quest to tell us, the viewers, how stupid, greedy, and evil we are. I was all set to look forward for this when it came out - but being constantly reminded about how stupid and evil I - no wait, my entire race - is, is not a good way to tell a story or convince someone of your beliefs. I believe in saving the environment, creating jobs, and protecting indigineous cultures, but after this movie, wanted to rip the wings off of butterflies. See a movie with a good plot and real social implications, like District 9 - which not only has more realistic, more alien, er, aliens- but cost a fraction of Avatar's bloated budget. I'd heavily advise staying away from this stinker unless the theater's empty, it's matinee, and you've got a group of folks you can watch it as a comedy with.