Avatar

june 5, 2010

I won't doubt the technical achievements of Avatar, they are spectacular.  But, from a pure entertainment standpoint, Avatar is just a mediocre film.  The heavy-handed preaching about being Green, the hit-you-over-the-head anti-war message, those drove the entertainment value of the film down. 

I enjoy Cameron films, T2 and The Abyss being the my favourites because of their strong characters and storylines.  Avatar may have a lot of thought and research behind the planet Pandora, but the story is pretty thin.  Humans find a chemical compound that can save Earth from its energy crisis on a planet named Pandora.  The compound is named Unobtanium -- though, shouldn't they change the name of the compound though? Since they already are obtaining it? 

The story follows a paraplegic ex-Marine as he controls an "avatar", or a body of a pseudo-Navi that he can take over with his brain. The Na'vi are really tall blue natives that live on Pandora and run around half-naked because all people that are so heavily connected with nature prefer to run around half-naked.  The Na'vi also apparently have the same Quaker-driven taboos as seen by the way the Na'vi women cover up strategic body locations.  I digress though.

The humans being the very bad people we are, choose to destroy the Na'vi in order to mine Unobtanium.  There is a fight.  One side wins.  Go ahead guess which side wins -- given the depth of this story -- it is not too hard to guess.  Then roll credits.

All of this takes place in what seems to be a three hour film, but turns out to only be two-and-a-half hours.

Yes, go ahead, hate me for not screaming how fanatically I loved Avatar.  Go ahead, hate me for not wanting to watch it over and over again.  Oh, and go ahead and tell me how I didn't like it because I didn't see it in 3D.  And this is where I fault Avatar:  The film is a technical spectacle and not much else. Strip the technical aspects away and all you have is Pocahontas in Space.

In an article by Wired, it was noted that after Cameron first saw Star Wars he was pissed.  Star Wars was the film that he should have made, that is what pissed him off so much.  Avatar was his way to out-Lucas George Lucas.  I say that Cameron failed to out-Lucas George Lucas.  Even now, when I watch the original Star Wars (Episode IV) I love it.  Not because of the spectacle -- I was barely two-years old when Star Wars was released to theaters -- since there are more technically brilliant films out now (like Avatar).  I still love watching Star Wars because it has this sense of fun that Avatar is missing  It has memorable characters that I love. It has humor and is not all serious -- there was a glimpse of humor in Avatar, but not much. All of this is missing from Avatar.  Which is sad because you can tell that Cameron and crew put a lot of thought behind Pandora and everything related to it.

Did I enjoy Avatar?  Yes, it was quite a breathtaking spectacle. Did I love Avatar?  No, it was overly-long and overly-preachy.