Jan 24, 2010

Not so Epic movie

This needs to be said, Avatar is not the greatest movie I've seen in my life or even in the year. In case you're wondering, I've also seen the highly enjoyable Up in the Air and the what the fuck goodness of the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Both films rank higher than Avatar on my barometer because I both scripts and their endings trump anything not CGI related about Avatar. As for visual creativity, if anyone insists anything in Avatar is better than what I saw in Parnassus, then they bought into the hype.

So you don't misunderstand, I enjoyed Avatar a lot. Visually, I got exactly what I expected and was surprised with the quality of the visuals at every turn. In the first fifteen minutes you go "whoah, that effect looks cool" and before too long, you realize that you can no longer tell reality from CGI and that in itself is worth the price of admission. But you know there's a but in here. For its sheer beauty and breathtaking visuals, creatively speaking, I wasn't given many new things I haven't seen in other mediums. Floating islands? Seen it. Weird animals? Seen them though these were a treat for the eye. Glowing effects? Seen em but they looked incredible here as well. Huge ass beautiful tree? Seen it.

In case you're wondering, I've seen floating islands in the Final Fantasy Videogame Series. Weird animals I've seen in many a game though I did enjoy the treatment they got here. Glowing effects? The Abyss, Finding Nemo and a long list of video games. And as for a huge magnificent tree, please see Secret of Mana. What I want to focus on is that the movie is not super original in concept or ideas, but instead a potpourri of wonderful reference material pulled off as amazing as effects allow. Technically, the movie is a statement that special effects need not make a movie look fake, but other than that, don't look for much originality.

I'm actually quite shocked people were so blown away from the story when in fact it's so archetypical that you can't help but think it's some movie you've seen before but with new visuals.

Mrs. Joker called it "Republicans VS Al Gore in an outerspace version of The Lion King". She minded the tree hugger message though I wish there were more tree hugging movies to see if people can maybe change their ways a bit but I recognize her criticism because Wall-E did it twenty times better and rarely did it feel tree hugging in nature. Just in case, all that just means that this movie comes off as super preachy, something I'm sure bugged Mrs. Joker to no end. As per storyline, the typical story arc is done to death. New premise, outsider comes in, is accepted, learns way of tribe to find secrets to help them be defeated, gets to love his new people, new people get slaughtered, they rally, fight back, get their asses handed to them, then a Deus ex Maxina later and the world is saved. If you think I spoiled the movie, then slap yourself for thinking this wasn't going to have a hollywood ending.

Throughout the entire movie, the only actor worth noting is Sigourney Weaver. To be honest, I think she's done more for Sci-Fi than pretty much any other woman and she's a testament that if she's in a Sci-Fi flick, you better pay attention. Everyone else is ok but nothing stellar. The bad guy is really bad and mean. Michelle Rodriguez rivals Steven Segal in typecast roles. The other bad guy is a weasel. The good guys are discardable. And the main character has the same tried and true flaws and virtues embedded into many a hero. It's not that it's good or bad... it's just nothing to write home about or be surprised by.

The script runs the maneouvers, and in between we're shown that not only is James Cameron one of the true masters of pushing visual technology, he's also a pretty much the blood brother of George Lucas by writing scripts as weak as Lucas's. In case you're calling foul about my opinion of Papa Jedi, take into account that The Clone Wars Cartoon Network series and Empire Strikes Back are the best Star Wars written material and script... you know why? Because George didn't solely write them. So Mr. Cameron, for further Avatar outings, which you will obviously direct and produce, feel free to ask the help of a writer to give Avatar 2 and 3 the the only special effect you weren't able to manage through CGI... substance.

So in closing, Avatar is a movie you should watch, but don't let the hype fool you into believing this movie is more than what it really is... a stunningly beautiful movie... visually. The only other comment I can offer is that when Cameron wins best picture or director or whatever, he should thank the videogame generation for giving him the visual references necessary to envision the beautiful world of Pandora.



Me said...

Let me say this: if Avatar wins over Inglorious Basterds... Going postal will be nothing compared for what I'm going to do.

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