Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Avatar reviewed.

I saw Avatar. I didn't pay for seeing it, which is a good thing, because I would have rioted. I never planned on paying to see Avatar, anyhow. So, willing to give anything a try once (willing to be entertained), I sat through over two hours of wonder CGI. And don't get me wrong, the CGI was great. Immersive. What Starwars was aspiring to. It's so elegant, you forget its there.

Dear god, I wish I could forget the plot was there. It was everything I knew it was, and worse. The paternalistic bullhooey racism was so thick and deep that at times, I had to to restrain myself from throwing something at the screen. And the plot was terrible. No, seriously, awful. I've read a lot of reviews afterwards, and not one has a kind thing to say about the plot. But for some reason, it gets a positive review because it's pretty. Isn't that like saying, "The 10 story tall building has floors, no lights, no plumbling, and no heat or AC, but it has a really nice facade." The point of a movie is to tell a story. Plot is not a secondary consideration. Plot is the only consideration. If the plot is great, we'll ignore about anything. 

Here are just a few of the things I didn't like. I could keep writing for another hour, easily.
  1. Dances with wolves in space. Except WHITE GUY (who is obviously not white, but human) saves all the INDIANS (who are obviously not indians, but Na'vi). So, the message I take home from this is imperialism is bad. And all natives (who are not natives, but obviously aliens) need to get them out from the thumb of imperialist problems is a white guy. Pause and bask in the glory of that logic. Not only is it totally self-refuting, but it's also incredibly patronizing. So, basically, it's dances with wolves, without ANY of the plot devices that made Dances with Wolves good. Why did this need made?
  2. Dude. You're even more racist than I thought you'd be (and I thought you'd be astoundingly racist). War wooping? In touch with nature? Going 'aiaiaiaiaiai!'? War paint? Feather necklaces? Are you serious?
  3. Men are warriors. Wimminz is spirituals, and should be chosen by men. Obviously. Cute `stand by your man` music. To quote someone else, the gender politics of this film are %#($8ing wacked.
  4. The aliens were totally un-alien. In fact, there was nothing alien about them. 10 fingers, 10 toes. Blue, with funky stamens in their hair, but otherwise? Totally human. They even had breasts. This is a serious lack of imagination. And why were most of the vertebrate animals in the movie hexapods, except for the Na'vi? They're missing two limbs, if they evolved on the planet.
  5. Plotholes the size of asteroids. No, seriously. You could fit an asteroid right down on their little world tree thing and just wipe the lot of them out. Guns? Bullets? Giant mechanical suits? You're a freaking space faring nation, act like one. Bombard them with $($%*ing asteroids! Let's see their arrows deflect that! There was zero imagination to the sci-fi. None.
  6. Uh, so, I couldn't help but notice pretty much every Na'vi was voiced by a not white person. The Antagonists... uh. Well, yeah. This one more or less speaks for itself.
  7. When you start making up floating mountains, without any hint of explanation beyond 'it's magical!', you've ceased being sci-fi. The floating mountains served no plot purpose, either. They could have done the one relevant scene in another really big tree. They were as pointless as pouring half a pound of sugar on Captain Crunch.
  8. More about biology - a lot of that plant life made no sense to me. I.e., actively annoyed me. So you only have one glowing pink tree per planet? How the heck do glowing pink-trees reproduce, if there's only one of them, and there always has only been one of them? Why were plants both motile, but rooted? Why was there only one world tree in the area? How did it's seed get there?
  9. Unobtanium? Come on. I mean... _come on_. Trioxide flagersidan. There, I came up with a better name in all of 5 seconds. Why not just call it `Name place holder from first draft?` It's not lazy writing. It's not even writing, period.
  10. To steal someone else's phrase (I'll link him in a minute), "War is bad. Now here's some more!" So, what's your moral, again? Not since Inglorious Bastards was there a movie as self-refuting as this on even it's most important points.
  11. Natives are so IN TUNE WITH THE ENVIRONMENT that they obviously TALK to FLIPPING ANIMALS. How about in our next movie, a planet full of Jewish people who are fantastic with accountancy? We'll call it "Dances With Ledgers." I can see the Oscar now...
  12. Hi, I'm strawman. I want my villains back. And you'll be hearing from all the 3-year olds you ripped off for the the characters of "Casually Racist McCorperatePants" and "Lt. Col. Kill Them All and Eat Their Babies." As far as I can tell, the sole motivation for either of them is they like hitting things, and digging up stupidly named rocks.
Yeah. I didn't like it.

I won't tell you to read the Filthy Critic's review, because you have to find college humour and foulmouth toilet talk hilarious to enjoy him. And he's rather not safe for work viewing for language alone, never mind his more... colourful metaphors. But he sums up the movie's portrayal of Natives perfectly in these paragraphs.
First is its patronizing vision of the indigenous people. It's like Cameron was channeling some long-haired asshole who sells turquoise roadside near Sedona. The movie treats the natives as simpletons, idiot savants full of pure goodness and new-agey magical powers, the same way guilt-ridden white people of limited intelligence think of American Indians. Cameron gives them the ability to see into the hearts of others. As far as I know, the only people who believe nonsense like that are folks with shit to hide. They're the ones who worry good people can see right through them.
The Na'vi talk to the earth and the animals. They live in harmony with nature. Through them, Cameron preaches the same simpleton back-to-the-earth bullshit as those phonies who go to Pow-wows and talk out their asses about magical American Indians. Hell, I'm surprised there isn't a cameo by Iron Eyes Cody. 
I probably can't talk you out of going. Sadly, so many idiots are watching it, it's going to be one of those things that we all have to do, some time, just like George Lucas' garbage stewStarwars prequel movies. I hope someone reads this and understands why some people have had such a vitriolic response to the movie.

I really, really hope I don't have to write about Avatar again.

Sadly, the news said Cameron is making a trilogy. Hell.


Arvay said...

When do reindeer lose their antlers? I was under the impression that the bucks should have shed them by now... so that one big one in the ag pen is either very special, or it's not a buck after all but a very, very large doe.

dragonfly said...

Hah, great review! I've no interest in seeing Avatar (unless I get an offer I can't refuse, ie hunky guy holding movie tickets). Thank you for reaffirming my commitment! When I hear someone drooling over the plot, I just groan. I mean, really.

TwoYaks said...

@avery: Stop pressuring him! He'll drop his antlers when he's good and ready! ;) Sometimes, males drop their antlers very late. It's a very stocastic thing. Most of them have shed them by now, though. But it's not a very hard-fast thing. There's a way you can check if he's a bull, and not a cow, which is to look at his/her rump. Don't worry, both the guys and the gal Reindeer like showing it off. ;)

@Dragonfly: Someone, somewhere, had something positive to say about the plot? Seriously? o.O Wow.

Arvay said...

Reindeer are cows and bulls? Not bucks and does? Wow... I would not have guessed. Thanks for the explanation. I'm not pressuring him, though. I like his rack! I think he's a lovely dude.