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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shut up! I'm trying to watch AVATAR...

I probably should have administered this warning before walking into Avatar, not after the movie is over, but…

Don’t invite me to a movie that you’ve been wanting to see for a while. If you do, don’t let me drink. And if you break both of those rules, at least make sure the movie is a good one; make sure the director took his time, let’s say 10 years or more. A decade’s worth of work plus the invention of new technology helped to realize the vision of James Cameron. Unfortunately, those facts didn’t keep me from ruining the film for the five people who came with me and the patrons several rows behind and in front of me. They think I put them through torture, they had no idea what I went through, but in the interest of not writing one thousand words of hyperbolic bitching, here are some things I didn’t like about the movie:

1. What does that name mean?
We get it. We get it James Cameron. Avatar is film’s version of being beat in the head with a brick. The name of the planet inhabited by the Na‘vi? Pandora. Witty! The name of the precious resource being mined on Pandora? Unobtanium. How did you come up with that? Not to mention that avatar is a Sanskrit word meaning personal deity. Bravo.

2. If you didn’t notice, it was an allegory…
The most poorly disguised allegory I’ve ever seen. One person mentioned it was Pocahontas revisited (Jack Scully has the same initials as…John Smith!); I said it was Ferngully. We were both right. Other similar films: Dances With Wolves, The Matrix, At Play in the Fields of the Lord and The Emerald Forest.

3. Africans

Hey Jar Jar, you’re off the hook. They took Kenyans and painted them blue. The prince is wearing a traditional African neck piece, the lead actress is black (alright she’s Dominican, but that is still afro-Caribbean) and they’re people of the earth with uncanny athletic prowess. Not to mention that moments after Jack Scully slips into his Avatar body he walks outside and sees the other Avatars playing basketball, the official sport of Africa (yes, I made that up). This section should really be lumped in with the allegory, because the only thing offensive about it is how easy it is to recognize.

4. Plot Holes
  • Jack Scully didn’t sleep the entire movie. Presumably Jack Scully sleeps when he is inside the Avatar, but it would have to be some kind of lucid dream state. As Mitch Hedberg once said, “I hate dreaming because when you want to sleep, you want to sleep. Dreaming is work. Next thing you know, I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.” Or defile a blue Na’vi virgin. Whichever.
  • Were they ever going to mine that unobtanium or did they blow up that first tree for nothing? And where did a second, bigger tree come from?
  • They could have told us why unobtanium was important. It would have literally taken half of a sentence. Ex: “This stuff is $200 a kilo AND it fuels everything…” Or it powers all the computers or it solves anal herpes, just give us something to work with
  • All of the sudden there are other clans? When did that happen?
5. Miscellaneous
Not my insight, but it is curious that the line “I see you” was constantly delivered in English and not the language of the indigenous people. A real missed moment…Do they intentionally make the 3-D glasses as uncomfortable as possible? I cannot think of one reason why the glasses need to be that big…In the end Jack Scully, not a native, conquers the Avatars. The oppressor conquers the opressed; message delivered…The mother tree/internet analogy is oh so clever…Nothing better than a movie that costs half a billion dollars that preaches conservation…At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I do not get 3-D. If I wanted the actors to look real why wouldn’t I go watch a play?Because the world looked so cool you say? The world that they brought me too, Pandora, looked about as cool as the landscapes that I saw on Planet Earth. It seems to me that for the sake of art I’d rather watch a play or a good two dimensional film and for the sake of experience I’d go to the Serengeti or the Tundra or New Zealand.

Things I liked:

1. It looked cool…I guess.

I’m sorry, but this was a feast or famine film and I starved. I was literally sick to my stomach afterwards (may have been the popcorn) and I had a headache as did my friend (who will be starting a blog soon so that I can just write his name). Even if the visuals were amazing, I’m not sure the pain in my forehead and the epileptic seizures that are sure to follow in the next couple of days were worth it. Then again, I might be wrong. Maybe someone will take the technology pioneered by JC (same initials as that Jebus guy, maybe James Cameron is the messiah!) and make a movie that has a decent story to go along with the 'perty' pictures. Until then I’ll try and keep my mouth shut.


  1. Michelle Rodriguez compared being on the set of this movie to being on the set of A New Hope and i went into a fit of rage.

  2. Predicting you were going to dislike this movie was as easy as beating a cat-filled burlap sack with a broomstick.

    Easy as pie.