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James Cameron's [Avatar] - Dances With Thundersmurfs

OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
edited January 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
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James Cameron's Avatar is out now in theaters. It is a movie about giant blue aliens (with tails!) being oppressed by humans who want a valuable mineral from their world. The blue guys--the Na'vi--are a tribal people who live in harmony with nature.

Our hero is Jake Sully, a paralyzed guy whose mind gets to ride in a Na'vi body grown for his dead twin brother. His job is to help study the aliens.

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He meets up with a giant blue alien girl, Neytiri, and pretty soon starts pulling a Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves.

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Some reports have suggested that the movie cost as much as $300 million to make; regardless, it was very expensive. Needless to say, the special effects are nice. So, let's talk about Avatar. I'll add my review below.

OremLK on
currently playing LoL: Polymath
a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
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Posts

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    And, here's a review I wrote up for my friend, for those interested in my long-winded critiques; minimal spoilers, don't worry.
    OremLK wrote:
    It seems movies with tons of unrealized potential send me into fits of giant, ranting reviews. I had a really good one going, but decided to delete it and state things a little more concisely. Yes, this is concise. By comparison.

    Avatar is a $300 million, 2 hour and 41 minute movie which is arguably the greatest visual achievement yet made in film. The awe and wonder are both awesome and wonderful. The CG looks absolutely real. The alien world of Pandora is amazing and brought to vivid life. The direction is magnificent; James Cameron knows how to create something remarkable, step aside, and let it speak for itself, without pretentious "lookatme!" bullshit. The acting is great, including the CG motion-captured animation, which is totally convincing. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are stars in the best costumes ever made.

    But the story is a heartbreaking failure. I say heartbreaking because it works so well on a visceral level, and falls apart so badly when you spend even a minute thinking about it.

    James Cameron wants to send a twofold message here: Living in harmony with Nature is great (conversely, technology is evil), and Imperialism is bad. The former is laughably hypocritical given that this film represents the most massive technological feat ever made in its industry, and that the Nature Cameron wants you to admire was entirely crafted using machines. The latter (decrying imperialism) I can get behind a little more, and I find it gutsy that Cameron tells the message by making white humans the antagonists and giant blue aliens the protagonists. But both messages are so hamfisted and the movie so contorted to support them that they have little impact. Besides, they're tired messages, and only serve to reinforce things already said many times by other filmmakers, not to enlighten and expand one's worldview in new ways.

    The antagonists are cardboard cutouts--well, the only two who are cut out at all. The human military is represented almost without a thought, and when they're killed, we feel sorry for them not because they are painted to be people, but because James Cameron spared them so little attention that he couldn't even bother to make them villainous.

    The moral nuances of that situation are ignored, and ignoring possible nuances becomes a pattern throughout the film in regards to everything but the ecosystem of Pandora. The protagonist is custom-made to dive into the aliens' culture, and he slips in place easily, without the dramatic tension that two clashing cultures should provide, especially in a romantic relationship like the one between said protagonist and his alien love interest. The plot is eased along by a series of convenient devices, and ends without things feeling truly resolved, since the source of the conflict (a valuable mineral called--I'm not joking here--"unobtainium") is never explained or dealt with. There are cool ideas involving both technology and biology, but "interesting consequences" seems an anathema to Cameron and company, as he throws the ideas out there and then pushes past them or uses them in only the most obvious way.

    And all of this is a terrible shame, because the story hits on a visceral level. You want to love the protagonists, Jake and Neytiri; they have poignant moments, their chemistry is great, and you can easily believe they could fall in love. You want to root for the Na'vi; their human opponents may be paper thin, but the alien world is painted so vividly that you can absolutely understand why they'd want to protect it. This isn't the new Star Wars trilogy; it isn't bland, and the dialogue isn't blatantly corny, and Cameron actually knows how to direct an actor, and the CG gives life to the movie instead of sucking the life out of it. But nothing in this film ever achieves the depth to have a lasting impact.

    Above all, the movie feels short at almost three hours. The visual achievements are so engrossing, the bare bones of the story strong enough to hold great weight. But Cameron, with limited screen time, spent most of it on creating his beautiful alien world and almost none of it on detail of story. Avatar is worth seeing because you must see what he has done with computer graphics, and because there's enough to the story to draw you in. The shame is that you won't walk out of the theater any greater than you were when you went in, except for the weight added by the popcorn.

    currently playing LoL: Polymath
    a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
  • ProhassProhass Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This was my favourite movie this year, really one of my favourites of all time. I havent felt such a sense of awe and wonder since I first watched Star Wars as a kid. It really just has to be seen to be believed.

    My god, the female Na'vi chick, her expressions and movements. The way everything blends together, you dont know where scenery ends and characters begin, its just seamless. Makes every other blockbusters visuals look they've been treading water for the past 10 years.

    I really just got swept up in it. Its very primal and just a beautiful film.

    I've seen it twice, and the bizzare thing is it was better the second time around. Its like you expect to be less impressed, but if anything you still cant believe what you're seeing.

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Prohass wrote: »
    This was my favourite movie this year. I havent felt such a sense of awe and wonder since I first watch Star Wars as a kid. It really just has to be seen to be believed.

    My god, the female Na'vi chick, her expressions and movements. The way everything blends together, you dont know where scenery ends and characters begin, its just seamless. Makes every other blockbusters visuals look they've been treading water for the past 10 years.

    I really just got swept up in it. Its very primal and just a beautiful film.

    Yeah, I absolutely loved the way they portrayed Pandora and the Na'vi. Awestruck is a good word.

    currently playing LoL: Polymath
    a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
  • SaigaSaiga Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Prohass wrote: »
    This was my favourite movie this year. I havent felt such a sense of awe and wonder since I first watch Star Wars as a kid. It really just has to be seen to be believed.

    My god, the female Na'vi chick, her expressions and movements. The way everything blends together, you dont know where scenery ends and characters begin, its just seamless. Makes every other blockbusters visuals look they've been treading water for the past 10 years.

    I really just got swept up in it. Its very primal and just a beautiful film.

    You summed up my feelings pretty well, surprisingly well actually.

    Already wanting to see it again, hopefully in the IMAX this time.

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  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    OremLK wrote: »
    Gonna snip away your review is what I'm gonna do!

    That's a good review. I'm about to see it in about an hour. IN THREE DEEEEE!
    God if he makes the Alita movie next I'm going to lose it.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ProhassProhass Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    James Cameron should make the bioshock movie. This is my dreambrain.

  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    Prohass wrote: »
    James Cameron should make the bioshock movie. This is my dreambrain.

    Listen, he's already got the libertarians in a bloody froth over the (historically supported, but blunt and unimaginative) depiction of corporate behavior in Avatar. If he comes within 10 yards of anything having to do with the Rand, they are going to bring down the entire internet with whining and haughty disapproval.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ProhassProhass Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    thats whats so glorious tho, the internet is powerless to stop him.

  • OtakuD00DOtakuD00D Too stupid to feel pain. San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I can only imagine how the Battle Angel Alita movie(s) is(are) going to be. He's held them back in favor of doing this one first 'cause of the technology he made while making this film. C'mon, Cameron!

    That said, I really hope I get to see this one this weekend. Specifically in IMAX. The initial teaser at Comic Con really upped the ante.
    First it was "Oh hey. He's making this film called Avatar."
    "The last airbender?"
    "NO, man. That's M. Night Shamalmadindong."

    After Comic-Con?
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  • AgentflitAgentflit Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This was probably the most incredible movie I have seen in theaters in a long time, from the flora and fauna design to the sheer technical wizardry powering the visuals, but man, the characters were all one dimensional! All the main characters were science fiction 101, I want a story where I can empathize at least a little bit with the "bad" side.

    But hey, it was beautiful and I wanna draw all kinds of glowing shit now.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited December 2009
    So thus far everyone here who has seen it has said "holy shit amazing!!!"

    wow, funny how that has worked out, considering just how much of the Internet was certain it was going to suck, despite so many folks in Hollywood and film critics were all giving Cameron sloppy head over the film.

    I look forward to seeing it tonight.

  • ClevingerClevinger Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I saw it last night. Despite my problems with some of the art design, it looked amazing. The CGI is incredible. Leaps and bounds ahead of everything else out there. Wasn't that impressed by the 3D. It was alright, but not the "it'll be like the change from black and white to color!" hype a lot of reviewers are spewing. What action the movie had was good.

    Unfortunately, everything else about the movie was mediocre to bad. There's a lot of cringeworthy dialogue and the story did nothing for me. It kind of makes me sad that all this money and talent (that could produce fucking anything) went towards this script.

  • ProhassProhass Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Eh I kind of liked the script and the only line I cringed at was the "fight terror with terror". Outside of that everything worked for me, it all clicked and nothing was clunky or paced poorly, it was superbly directed. The story felt like a disney movie. Thats a compliment and a drawback. I just got swept up in it. Ive seen it twice and I actually felt the script and dialogue was better the second time around, maybe because I knew how it fit into the whole.

  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Saw it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I could definitely see problems with the story (it gets very predictable the closer you draw to a finale), but I honestly didn't care; the world was breathtaking and I gave a damn about the characters. It's also the first movie I'd seen in 3d where paying extra for it felt justified.

  • Unco-ordinatedUnco-ordinated Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Just saw it and got back like 10 minutes ago. Loved it. It wasn't perfect and it did get a little predictable at times but still, I absolutely loved it. Unless Lovely Bones is super amazing, Avatar's my favourite movie of the year (with District 9 in a close second).

    I really, really hope that there's not another 12 years between this and Cameron's next movie.

    Steam ID - LiquidSolid170 | PSN ID - LiquidSolid
  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    It was Ferngully.

    With explosions, instead of Tim Curry.

    I found it entirely predictable and while full of eye candy, laden with plot holes, inconsistencies, and bad writing.


    Super pretty though. And I saw it in 3d which made it even cooler.

    Oh and for being all "NATURE IS AWESOME" they sure did
    Spoiler:

  • ZzuluZzulu Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I don't know what Ferngully is

    [€dit] Apparently it is a cartoon from the 90's. :...:

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  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    ferngully_the_last_rainforest_ver1.jpg

    It's that, except with blue people, CGI, and no smog monster.

    edit: I mean hell. It's got a flying creature, female native, plucky brotherish character.

    IT'S THE SAME MOVIE

  • ZzuluZzulu Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    did it also have mechs

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  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    Zzulu wrote: »
    did it also have mechs

    Giant death bulldozers?

  • Unco-ordinatedUnco-ordinated Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    Oh and for being all "NATURE IS AWESOME" they sure did
    Spoiler:

    Are you joking or just daft?

    Steam ID - LiquidSolid170 | PSN ID - LiquidSolid
  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    Oh and for being all "NATURE IS AWESOME" they sure did
    Spoiler:

    Are you joking or just daft?

    The only soldiers that they showed that
    Spoiler:

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    It was Ferngully.

    With explosions, instead of Tim Curry.

    Hey that's a super original comment that hasn't been all over the fucking internet for like a week. nice work!

    I liked it. The story wasn't subtle, but subtle was hardly the intent.

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  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    It was Ferngully.

    With explosions, instead of Tim Curry.

    Hey that's a super original comment that hasn't been all over the fucking internet for like a week. nice work!

    I liked it. The story wasn't subtle, but subtle was hardly the intent.

    I didn't read any prerelease buzz. I went in with the only thing I saw having been Sigourney Weaver on the Daily Show.

  • mere_immortalmere_immortal So tasty!Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Saw it on Wednesday in 3D at an early preview showing.

    Absolutely blew me away, the Na'vi and scenery could have been actors and sets they just looked so real. Also 3D finally has come into it's own, I can't imagine watching it in in 2D after seeing it how it was meant to be seen.

    the story wasn't anything groundbreaking, but Cameron did it so well that it seemed completely fresh and despite it being just under 3 hours long I never found myself wondering when the next set piece started, I was totally engrossed.

    The only bad part was coming out of the cinema at the end and realising how bland everything looked compared to Pandora.

    Also the thread title should be, Avatar: James Cameron makes sweet love to my senses.

    Steam: Dr. Mark Sloan - XBL: lego pencil - Wii U: mere_immortal - 3DS: 0748-1545-6684
  • Unco-ordinatedUnco-ordinated Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    Oh and for being all "NATURE IS AWESOME" they sure did
    Spoiler:

    Are you joking or just daft?

    The only soldiers that they showed that
    Spoiler:
    Spoiler:

    Anyway, I stole the 3D glasses the cinema gave out because the rude bitch at the counter gave us shit seats after I'd already booked good ones last week. I feel somewhat justified.

    Steam ID - LiquidSolid170 | PSN ID - LiquidSolid
  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2009
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    SniperGuy wrote: »
    Oh and for being all "NATURE IS AWESOME" they sure did
    Spoiler:

    Are you joking or just daft?

    The only soldiers that they showed that
    Spoiler:
    Spoiler:

    Anyway, I stole the 3D glasses the cinema gave out because the rude bitch at the counter gave us shit seats after I'd already booked good ones last week. I feel somewhat justified.

    Weren't they Marines? Or did I miss something.
    Spoiler:


    Great eye candy, ton of incongruencies. Left me wanting for a story where they actually explained and explored how they have a new technology that lets you shove your brain into someone elses head. Especially new cloned super bodies. They just sorta glossed over that though.

    Oh, and
    Spoiler:

  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm catching this on IMAX 3-D later today.

    I'm going in with very low expectations, provided I get to see lots of pretty CGI and some explosions on an 80-foot screen, I'll be happy.

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  • FloofyFloofy Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Boo.

    My friends won't go to the IMAX showing of this because they deem it too expensive. So we're seeing it still in 3d but at a regular cinema. I swear it's the first time in FOREVER there's been a film I've actually wanted to see at an IMAX that's actually being shown there.

    Boo. I need new friends.

  • TubularLuggageTubularLuggage Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    So let's assume I'm not going to be impressed by pretty images alone. Because I won't be.
    Is it actually good as a film too, or is it basically two and a half hours of CGI wank?

  • VestyVesty Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I went in really skeptical about the cg and the 3d when I saw it last night, and came out really impressed. the 3d gave it a nice non jarring pop from the screen. Especially with all the holograms on the base. Occasionally I would close one eye to see what it would look like normal and while still nice looking, not nearly as awesome. The one thing that bugged me was holy uncanny valley with Sigourney Weaver's avatar. All the other ones looked pretty good but for some reasons hers was creepy.

    I'll agree that the story got pretty predictable. Whacked you across the head with foreshadowing all movie and was not too subtle about it.

    tron_sig_PA.jpg
  • cloudeaglecloudeagle Zhu-Li, do the thing! Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Yay, Dances With Smurfs. I'm not impressed with the story in the least, and the fact that Cameron actually gave the McGuffin substance the stupidly unimaginative name of "unobtanium" makes me cross-eyed.

    That said, I'm sure it'll do well at the box office.

    3DS: 0344-9335-6762
  • SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Wait....unobtanium is for real? I thought that was a joke in a review I read!

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  • mere_immortalmere_immortal So tasty!Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    cloudeagle wrote: »
    the stupidly unimaginative name of "unobtanium" makes me cross-eyed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americanium
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einsteinium

    Steam: Dr. Mark Sloan - XBL: lego pencil - Wii U: mere_immortal - 3DS: 0748-1545-6684
  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    How about
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unobtainium
    Unobtainium is a facetious term for any extremely rare, costly, or physically impossible material needed to fulfill a given design for a given application.
    In other words, whoosh.

  • SnorkSnork Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    unobtanium was already used as a super unimaginative name for a boring placeholder element in, of all movies, THE CORE

    this is not a film i want to remember when i go to the theater

  • JastJast Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    So let's assume I'm not going to be impressed by pretty images alone. Because I won't be.
    Is it actually good as a film too, or is it basically two and a half hours of CGI wank?

    The story kind of blows and the characters are flat. It also slams you over the head with its technology is bad and natives are awesome message.

    Jast39.png
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Despite the massive budget, Avatar won't be a record breaker like Titanic because it doesn't appeal to chicks. Titanic made so much money because it had a romance story, almost guaranteeing the skirts would see it in droves. Emotional females might be mildly interested in romantic comedies but they get wobbly in the knees when there's a romantic tragedy playing!
    Spoiler:

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  • HavelockHavelock Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Jast wrote: »
    So let's assume I'm not going to be impressed by pretty images alone. Because I won't be.
    Is it actually good as a film too, or is it basically two and a half hours of CGI wank?

    The story kind of blows and the characters are flat. It also slams you over the head with its technology is bad and natives are awesome message.



    I'm seeing it tonight, but when I saw the previews for it I said to myself 'Self, this is Ferngully meets Dances With Wolves in Space, with furries, and it's going to end exactly like you think it's going to end.'

    At least it will look pretty.

  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    James Cameron is a douche. This is yet another variation on "white guilt" which is really a lot like Nice Guy (tm) syndrome, where people act like paragons of compassion mostly because there's some tangential benefit, i.e them letting everyone know they're not down with what they're country was built on and please pay to see a movie that showcases how progressive they are. It's a really good way to string together your cinematic jerkoff without having to write a real story about real people.

    Except it's pretty much just as racist to put noble savages on a pedestal because it oversimplifies complex issues.

    I'll still see it 'cause it looks cool but the story stinks of heavy handed preachiness. Maybe I should take an ipod.

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