Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Thumb Up: Avatar


Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana (Avatar only), Sigourney Weaver
Co-Starring: Michelle Rodriquez, Giovanni Ribisi

** SPOILER ALERT **

Let me sum this one up in a single sentence: Avatar is a science fantasy CGI Dances With Wolves in outer space presented in the classic Cameron style!

The plot has been done before. A lot. A greedy (American?) company run by (all white?) tools plunders an indigenous population in the interest of corporate profit.

What I Liked
• It's a big budget action movie that puts all the development money up on the screen.
• The concept of an avatar and how it works here is very interesting. Complex but seemingly understandable and believable.
• Use of 3D technology.
• Imaginative foreign world that is a beautiful, almost overwhelming presence on the big screen.
• Characters are distinctly drawn, but with a movie this long, more time could have been spent on back story instead of some action sequences.

What I Didn't Like
• I was put off from the very opening when the 20th Century Fox intro played and I was painfully reminded that I was giving $13.75 to News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch.
• A rehash of the "Dances With Wolves" storyline with a healthy dose of Aliens thrown in. These are my TOP TWO FAVORITE movies of ALL TIME so you'd think I wouldn't bitch about it. But it seemed "been there, done that" when all was said and done.
• Just because you have the computer power to render a million things on the screen doesn't mean you have to. Impressive? Yes. Adds to the story? No. Refer to how George Lucas ruined the second Star Wars trilogy.
• Yes, the technology is impressive. But the people and animals of Pandora still look CGI. The flora looked CGI, too, but that seemed to work by enhancing its beauty.
• Classic Cameron story telling where there are several build ups and climaxes where you think the movie is going to end only to find out things are going to get worse. However, I wasn't peaking through my fingers because I wasn't scared. I think the CGI characters didn't evoke that in me. It was too fantasy, not potentially real.
• Sigourney Weaver plays her Ripley character from Aliens except she doesn't have as much screen time.
• Michelle Rodriguez plays the same character as Jenette Goldstein (Pvt. Vasquez) in Aliens, the bad-ass rebellious Latina who eventually does the right thing.
• Giovanni Ribisi plays the same character as Paul Reiser (Carter Burke) in Aliens, the greedy white corporate douchenozzle who's willing to do anything in the name of corporate interests.
• Speaking of Ribisi, I can never look at him as the character he plays. All I see is a screwed up Scientologist and my admission price is supporting him and Cruisitology. Then I start to wonder how many others in the cast and crew are whacked since they travel in packs and hire each other since non-Scientologists are 'suppressives' to be avoided.
• I swear none of the futuristic aircraft in any of Cameron's films look like they could actually fly.
• There are modified "Get away from her you bitch" dockloaders from Aliens, too.
• If you've watched Aliens and Terminator 2 as much as I have, you hear many of the same sound effect. Clinking pipes, metal feet walking on metal grates, etc. The music is very similar, too.
• This is set way in the future, yet the script uses familiar colloquial phrases from today. I mean, will people still be shouting "Shit!" when there's danger in the year 2200?

What I Learned
• Computer animation still can't produce characters that are human.

I give the movie my thumb up. I've been thinking about the movie since I saw it. Any film that makes me think about it for days is worth the price of admission. It isn't forgettable.

You'll like the film if you are into video game style graphics and action.

I saw it in 3D and wonder if I might have enjoyed it more in 2D. I may have to go back and see it again.

4 comments:

Mom said...

Saw it with a teenage grandson. We both loved it.

Sean said...

Very thorough. I didn't realize how Aliens like this movie was. I didn't like the 3D either but I did think the Avatars were amazing.

bigislandjeepguy said...

having never seen aliens or dances with wolves, and not seeing this in 3D...i LOVED it. found absolutely nothing wrong with it and would go see it again and again and cannot wait for it to come out on dvd.

ok, wait. i take that back. there WERE some parts where the music sounded like a tribal version of music from titanic...hehehe. but i could totally forgive that!

Y | O | Y said...

BIJG--Never seen Dances With Wolves or Aliens?? I had them on Laserdisk back in the olden days! If you liked Avatar, you'll love them both. Be prepared to cry in DWW and crap your pants in Aliens. ;)