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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AVATAR - A Review

I think when people heard the words “James Cameron’s first movie since Titanic” they lost perspective. It didn't matter anymore that this movie still might suck, it was James Cameron’s first movie since his last sinking ship and that’s all anybody cared about it. You could put the contents of a used tissue on a cinema screen for 3 hours and people would still go and see it if it had Cameron’s name on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Aliens, I also swam in the Abyss and relished in the Terminator franchise in which Cameron proved he could make virtually the same movie twice and people would still go and see it. Heck, I also enjoyed that other Arnie movie he made, True Lies. But somewhere along the line I can’t help but feel some directors lose the plot. John Carpenter lost it, Spielberg sometimes loses it and even Lucas lost it somewhere between episode six and episode one. Cameron has lost it as well - he lost it and used very expensive special effects to distract us from noticing...

The Titanic was boring until everyone died and even now, 15 years later I am still haunted by the songs that practically ended Celine Dion’s career. Even the fantastic James Horner, composer of some of the most memorable sound tracks ever; Glory, Brave Heart and Bicentennial Man- sunk with that rust bucket as the mixture of artificial sound with smooth real life strings clanged in my ears like an ice berg scraping against, well, a great big ship. The only good thing about that movie in my mind was that it was the film that marked the end of Leonardo as a teen heart throb and launched him into more eccentric roles. Thanks for drowning Jack.

But this review is not about Titanic. This is about a movie that has recently sold more tickets than the great Titan of the sea ever dared. And I’m still trying to figure out why.

Avatar, Cameron’s 3D vomit which offended me in more ways than three.

Ok ok, I hear it now, the hordes of patrons screaming “sacrilege!” So let me make one thing perfectly clear before I continue – This movie was stunning, brilliantly made, the special Effects spell binding, the CGI believable. In every visual sense this film was breath taking and every other cliché I can think of lavishing it with, but… and that’s a very big “but”…

Just because a film looks good doesn’t mean it is good. Snow white’s apple was after all shiny on the outside while therein lie the poison that put her to sleep, and this movie was the poison that put me to sleep!

First of all the story was totally and horrifically unoriginal. In fact I’ve seen it before,, I believe it was a Kevin Costner film called Dances With Wolves in which a military man gets sent to the farthest outpost in the mid west where he befriends the local tribe and eventually becomes one of them until the climax where he gets to fight the “white man” to protect his new found cultural identity. He even keeps a diary. In a nut shell this is AVATAR rattling inside the walnut.

As soon as I realized the film was Dances with Wolves in Space it felt like Dirty Dancing Havana Nights all over again. Nobody puts baby in a corner and that’s exactly what this film tried to do – to make you believe it was original with lots of clever camera trickery and 3D glasses while laughing at you behind some bushes and insects with propellers for wings! BORING!!!

The second thing I didn’t appreciate was that I felt like AVATAR was made by the Joseph Goebbels of the modern Hippie Movement… it was like Al Gore was standing in the side lines whispering in Cameron’s ear, saying, “Excellent, my young apprentice… soon you will learn the power of the dark side” This movie was so green you couldn’t see Kermit the frog singing “It’s not easy being green” against it! Ok so there’s nothing completely wrong with environmentalism except most of what we are being forced fed in so many movies today about global warming and the like is complete and utter nonsense. This movie, while not at all about global warming, couldn’t help side swiping human kind for demolishing their own planet just so they could go and do the same to someone else’s.

Actually, admittedly, that was rather clever; I've always thought Alien Invasion movies were a tad unrealistic because in them we are always the goodies. When in actuality we would be the Invaders and some Kangaroo like tribe in some far away planet would be feeling the end of our spears. But I like to think Human beings are inherently evil because of our propensity to lie, to cheat, to steal, to think evil thoughts, to murder, to commit adultery and all that jazz. I don’t agree that our worst sin is that we kill trees.
Thirdly I don’t like one bit the notion that if we just return to nature then everything will be ok. This is an idea that predates this movie which nobalizes the savage and perpetrates the lie that if we just ditch society and go live with the monkeys we would enter into a veritable nirvana here on earth. No no no, why do we always forget that a great many of the cultures “white man” over ran were also cannibals with spares and human sacrifice on the days agenda? Being a fourth generation colonial I'm beginning to resent the "white man" complex most of my generation suffers from, being forced to feel guilty for a sin our great great granddaddies did. AVATAR just reminds me I'm living in a culture that encourages something much worse than catholic guilt - cultural shame in a land where the only land I've ever stolen is the dirt under my shoe!

I can see it now, clear as day the various scenes of long tailed blue alien people swaying to and throw as they worshipped the great mother tree. Give me a break. Sounds like raw paganism to me. I’m not buying it. In the real world it reflects something sick in the heads of todays elite, a belief called Gaia Theory, in which the Earth is a living organism complete with an immune system bent on eradicating the human virus which needs to learn to behave or Mother nature will sneeze us out of existence just like she did to the dinosaurs for leaving a mess on the foot path. Just read Richard Branson's "Let's not Screw it, let's just do it" and you'll see I'm not making this up. There are people out there who really believe we deserve every bit of cosmic radiation the earth wants to expose us to, just because we built a factory or two, pumped oil and killed some trees. So let me get this straight, the Earth is aloud to do her mindless thing and exterminate the rodents but the very idea of a transcendent God who would allow us to be punished for blood shed, violence, child abuse, theft and not honoring our parents and a whole host of things that are part of our shameful humanity - simply offends and disgusts most people.

I'm also not happy that Cameron invented an Alien resembling a cat and a spider monkey that's blue like a smurf but being human enough to attract the double take of every young male watching the way a very sheltered lad might view his first National Geographic. I imagine many people had some rather mixed feelings about human attraction after watching this film. Its not a very nice thing to do James.

Perhaps I've been a bit harsh but I've never quite got over Cameron's pseudo-archaeological documentaries about the so called Jesus Family Tomb or the Exodus of Moses.

In any case I better save some of my distaste for AVATAR for its sequels, soon to come no doubt, but if I had my way I would gladly wait another 15 years. Hopefully Cameron will take the money and run...

So for entertainment I would give this movie an 8 out of 10, wow so high for a scathing review - but like I said just because a movie is entertaining does not make it any good by a long shot! For content, depth and originality I will lend it a 3... I say lend because I might want that 3 back later to swap it for a 2!

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