2_perseph: (marilyn contemplative)
[personal profile] 2_perseph
Everything negative everybody says about Avatar is true.

But I still fucking loved it.

And I’m kinda floored hearing myself say that because I could have left anytime in the first hour and a half. And I saw it with those 3D glasses and let me tell you, this needs to be the last 3D movie ever made. Those things are just a distraction for no equivalently satisfying reason.

The movie suffers from classic late-Cameronisms: lazy reliance on cliché to get the story to where he wants it to be, one-dimensional characters devoid of personality, etc, etc, etc. And in this instance Cameron tops himself by jerking off with a hero that hits every clichéd “chosen one” moment you've ever heard off. And then the silliness with the magical natives. (Though I have to say, the actors who portrayed the Na'vi did a spot-on job of delivering at least the mannerisms of West African native peoples.)

But Cameron has always been a certain type of storyteller: his characters have always been his avatars. They’re stiff with cliché of late, but I think that Cameron relies on them to get out of the dumb, frustrating things he seems to think of the real world. He stays out of Hollywood life, keeps away from the circle jerk of big name directors, he doesn’t care to have studio executives fawn over him. He lives in an estate, practically, but he’s humble towards everyday people and seems to wake up in the morning and do relatively normal things.

And dream of very big things.

He seems a man who wants to tell great stories, but suffers greatly from a lack of depth.

One question I do want to ask all of Hollywood and anyone who thinks similarly: When in history has a white man ever gone into a native culture and saved them? Name just one instance. I don't mean going in with vaccination, I mean full on entering and saving them from genocide or displacement. It's quite a fantasy.

What actually happens is that white man explorer goes into a different world and wholeheartedly gets lost in it. They go exploring for years, and no one hears from them until years later when some kind of rescue party of friends and usually a freaked out wife come looking. Sometimes, if you’re a Marco Polo, you come back with wondrous tales and some noodles.

But what usually happens is that the would-be rescuers find a man living it up with “the natives,” forgetting altogether to ever go back home. It’s happening as we speak.

And you know, native girls do want to fuck the white guy when he arrives. It's something different. We just don’t want to marry him. I mean, not necessarily. That’s Western/Hollywood/white man/male/fill–in-your-blank (take your pick) thinking.

I am not a believer in people who have never left their sphere of life being able or expected to tell my story better, as well, or for me. But neither do I believe that anyone has a right to stop such people from telling such stories, or any story they want to tell. Whether they wish to tell it out of spite or ignorance.

It doesn’t mean they’re to be spared brutal criticism or outright mockery, since that’s to be expected once you put yourself out there. But intent must count for something at the end of the day, and at the end of the day I think Cameron wanted to tell the story of a man who escapes his mundane world. And if he chose to do it with magical native people, though seriously embarrassing and kind of sad, then that’s what he chose to do.

I enjoyed the movie in its second half. For me it was the same as with Titanic: he could have thrown out the first half and I would have been grateful for it, or had someone else re-write it and make it marginally less bad.

But considering that I actually got up twice to leave the theater, only deciding to change seats and see whether I could stop the 3D fern from smacking my face, and considering that I went in there with absolutely no delusions of enjoying myself, I have to hand it to the guy.

If eyeballs could be sprained from eye-rolling, mine would need to be iced right now. But Zoe Saldana like, made that movie her bitch, and Sam Worthington was nuanced and fantastic, and at the end of the day I'm a sucker for big fat action sequences. And that was enough for me.

Edited Jan. 17

on 2010-01-13 03:16 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] griffndor.livejournal.com
Your review is exactly what I've been hearing from everyone who has seen it - it's not good/okay but go see it :)
I hate wearing those glasses and a butt numbing 2&1/2 or 3 hour movie leaves me feeling twitchy. I have a question and this is probably gonna sound silly but at the local cinema it's being shown in 3-D at $10.00 and at $6.50 for non-3-D. Is there an actual difference in watching either one? Can you watch a 3-d movie without the glasses? Would it look like any other movie?

on 2010-01-13 08:57 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] 2-perseph.livejournal.com
There's definitely a difference. The 3D technology really is something to behold.

I thought taking the glasses off would make it look like normal film, but if you remove the glasses (which I did several times in the first hour, out of sheer frustration), you see objects not in the foreground of the screen as slightly doubled. Not pleasant to watch like that.

After a while, it seems you get used to having the glasses on and forget all about it. Though some part of your mind still kinda protests the need to have badly fitting plastic sitting on your face while you're trying to get into a movie. But I did forget about it.

If you're curious enough to want to see it in 3D, I'd sort of recommend it.

on 2010-01-13 09:31 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] griffndor.livejournal.com
Ahh.. thank you for the explanation about the difference the glasses make. I was just curious because my son saw John Mayer in 3-D at the Imax and already has a pair of the glasses - so if I take them to the regular movie I wouldn't see it in 3-D. I'm pretty sure they don't care if you already have the glasses at the 3-D movie and would charge the $10.00 anyway. I'm not really such a skin flint it's just the principle of the thing. :)

on 2010-01-13 09:50 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] bunnysquee.livejournal.com
i want to see avatar for the special effects, because i'm a bit of a nerd like that, but i haven't made it to the movie theatre yet.

on 2010-01-17 09:01 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] 2-perseph.livejournal.com
The fx are quite colorful and mesmerizing. Have you gone yet?

on 2010-01-18 06:26 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] bunnysquee.livejournal.com
no ...

Love it, but ...

on 2010-01-14 12:56 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blue-jars99.livejournal.com
Your first two sentences sum it up for me. I have had several people ask me whether to go see the film and I didn't know how to respond. I finally settled on, "The plot is lame, but the film is beautiful to see."

I have been an avid fan of the art of animation since back in my high school art class, when we did an extensive study of the art form and did an animation of our own using pencil on flip books. To me, the awesomness in Avatar is in the animation. For a long time, no one advanced the art of Miyazaki, then along came Avatar. I could sit with earplugs in and watch it ten times over.

I had the advantage of taking my son's advice (he is in college, can you believe it?!!) and did not see it in 3D. I found a number of things to be troubled by in the plot, like the elements seemingly ripped off from LOTR. I leaned over and whispered to my son during the battle scene, "It's the Rohirrim!" His response was, "Wait. The Oliphants are next." Of course this time the Oliphants are on the side of the good guys. And then there were the Eagles. Good God, Peter Jackson (or Tolkien) must be choking by now.

What bothered me most was the device of making the human protagonist a paraplegic. The message was implicit, but still obvious - better to die and become a "real" alien than to live life as a paraplegic. Have there been protests from Veteran's groups? There should be.

Still, I enjoyed the hell out of the movie and will probably see it again before it disappears from theaters. To enjoy the art, not the plot.

Re: Love it, but ...

on 2010-01-17 09:12 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] 2-perseph.livejournal.com
I daresay his making the protag a paraplegic wasn't a device. He seems very in tune with military culture, esp. with the Marines, and I think he intro'd the character well enough as an able-bodied individual. In fact it seemed his use of a battle-maimed soldier was meant as recognition and a hats off to the soldiers currently in that position.

And I thought the protag's need to become one of the Na'vi came was from a deep thirst for a better life than the one to be had on earth at that time. He seemed the classic Neo-type protag looking for what was "real."

I'd rec seeming it at least once in its 3D format, though. For the novelty, if nothing else.

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