Last night I went to see Avatar. This is after Alby both texted and posted on my facebook wall (multimple times): GO SEE AVATAR. GO SEE AVATAR. (etc.) So my little bro and I buckled down and went.
Unfortunately, we had to see it in 2D, because our theater of choice is not yet equipped with 3D apparati, and the theater that is has a history of being sold out for everything ever. So we didn't see it in super-shmancy-pancy 3D, which is probably why the movie left me feeling completely unfulfilled. Without effects to fall back on, the story was a flop (or, as one before me put it, Dances With Wolves...IN SPACE!!). Now I LUV me some Costner stache, but the dialogue in Avatar is so basic, by the third act I was laughing out loud at the real whoppers. I'm planning on seeing it again in 3D with mon pere, but as it stands, I don't think any amount of "full world emmersion" can salvage the elementary state of the writing.
If you would like the film COMPLETELY SPOILED FOR YOU (not that it won't happen anyway), here's my condensed version:
Generic Hero I-Haven’t-Found-Myself-Yet Marine (Good): Hello, I’m a paraplegic ex-marine with a dead twin brother *pity pity pity sprinkles*
Generic Old-Guy-Gone-Bad Marine (Bad): I’M THE EVIL DERAGNED ONE-DIMENTIONAL MILITARY METAPHOR.
Sigourney Weaver: I’m Sigourney Weaver. I went to Stanford, class of 1972. *points at shirt* Did you get it?
The Man: OH NO! We must harvest unobtani-adamanti-wonderflonium for MONEY! And the indigenous population is all that stands between us and MONEY! Because as The Corporate Man, All I ever want is MONEY!! I’M SO ORIGINAL!!!!
Native Population: But oh! I will represent everyone from Native Americans to Iraq! I shall be used to make a comment on everything from the War on Terror to Global Warming! Don’t worry, they will be so overt that you won’t need to bother with thinking! This is mindless entertainment for crying out loud – I’m gonna pump it with “Message” so you feel GOOD about feeling bad when it’s all over.
The Man: Oh no, the natives are in the way!
Bad Marine: Let’s pretend to care about moving them, because all we really wanna do is blow them up no matter what! WITH GUNS OF FIRE! I can’t possibly be a reasonable character because then who would we have to blame?
Good Marine: Hey, I’m kinda falling in love with this indigenous culture that is far more pure and genuine than my own…thank God I’m not a Kevin Costner fan or I might be having déjà vu!
Big Eyed Female Thing: I will represent every ethnicity that isn’t Anglo-American. And I will walk around being “clearly attractive” pretty much naked, but it’s okay because I’m odd enough looking that it won’t bother you. And whenever I feel emotion I will do this: *hacking scream*
Ohh, look! The glowing jellyfish have CHOSEN YOU!! YOU MUST BECOME ONE OF US!!
James Cameron: Now let’s spend 45 minutes flying around and looking at fluorescent plants. Because I’m James Cameron. And I can.
Sigourney Weaver: It’s the trees! They have energy! DON’T FORCE ME TO MAKE THIS GLOBAL WARMING COMMENT ANY MORE OVERT THAN IT IS! FINE! I WILL!!
And now we must have military + Big Business versus the gentle, peaceful natives because banal conflict is all we need as an excuse to for an epic battle scene!
Good Marine: I must save the Na'vi. I must save my wife and my newly adopted culture, because I am now enlightened, and therefore everything I do is GOOD and everything opposite of me is BAD and even though I have been created by a culture than thrives on boasting relativity and grey area I have allowed NONE! “I have to take it to the next level.” (Really, James? That was the best line you could come up with?)
Oh, no! Our quasi-Gandalf/Obi-wan is dying and we must SAVE HER! Cue a religious ceremony that includes every type of worship that ISN’T CHRISTIAN.
[Do we really wanna make that comment?]
[Let’s hope they don’t notice.]
Meanwhile, James Horner decides to write a completely original, overtly moving score with ethnic influence. Oh no, how can I convey ethnic influence? “EEEYYYAAAAYOOOAEEEHHHHH” BOOM BOOM “AAAHEEEYYYYYHAAAA” BOOM BOOM BOOM
Bad Marine: Let’s blow a hole so deep in their racial psyche they’ll be reeling too much to fight, or something else that makes me sound impeccably racist. Let’s fight terror with terror, and spoon feed you some more subtext. And for a final comment, let’s foolishly ignore the Energy Of The Trees (even though their science is UNDISPROVABLE and I’m clearly just choosing to ignore it to advance my own business agenda subtext subtext subtext.)
Good Marine: I HAVE THE COOL FLYING BIRD!! I WILL NOW SAVE US ALL!! NOW TO PELENNOR FIEL –oh, wait. That was the other big December blockbuster that we’re trying not to mention lest it inhibit our intended claim on Best Movie Experience Ever.
EPIC BATTLE SCENE AND oh, no, every single auxiliary character is dead. FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE SITUATION. FEEL IT. FEEL IT.
And now we must come to the final one-on-one between our layered hero (layered – that’s not a stretch at all…) and our villain, who must have burst forth from the womb in a fit of unjustified anger because we certainly don’t have any reason for why he acts the way he does. Oh, wait. He’s the military commander. He’s supposed to be a mindless mongol!
Meanwhile, our heroine is pinned beneath a rhinodactle because we needed to remove her from the situation without downplaying her role as a fully competent warrior.
Oh, no, he’s dying! Can his lady love save the human form she’s never met! CUE CIRCULAR DIALOGUE TO REMIND US THE CENTRAL THEME OF THE FILM! “I…see…you”? Quite appropriate for the film, since really all I got was a feast for my eyeballs.
And now the energy of our feminine God-tree [can we plug for climate change awareness one more time?] transfers his consciousness from his broken human body to the fully realized indigenous one! Open they eyes…open the eyes…CHYESS!! I AM NOW FILLED WITH DEEP SHAME AT MY HURTFUL CULTURE BUT BRIMMING WITH HOPE THAT WE CAN FIX IT – TOGETHER!!! Now let me toss my half eaten popcorn and get back into my SUV. Not to worry – I am now conscious of the pain that I personally caused Native Americans…and the Redwoods.
Avatar: But HOW CAN YOU HATE ME? I’M THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER!!! I CAUSE PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT THEIR PLACE AS AMERICANS AND FACE THE CONSEQUENSES OF THEIR ACTIONS!!!
Well, kids, if this is what it takes to make you “think,” go see it again. And again. So Fox can make the money back (wait, people making money? Didn’t we already establish that that’s BAD?) so they can go back to making movies that don’t make me cringe.