MOVIE: Avatar (2009)

Okay, look.  This movie is terrible.  It’s absolutely terrible.  The script, the dialogue, the characters, terrible, terrible, terrible.  It’s actually insulting to me — as it should be to you — that James Cameron spent so many millions and millions of dollars on this thing and yet failed to put any money whatsoever into the story and script.  A twelfth-grade creative writing student could’ve written a better movie script.  And you probably could’ve paid him about $500 to do it.

THAT SAID, this movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes of absolutely stunning visual spectacle the likes of which I have never seen before in any movie in my LIFE.  I didn’t even think the world Cameron created was very creative — it looks just like Earth but with neon blue flowers and dinosaurs, big whoop.  There wasn’t anything sophisticated or even very scientifically intriguing about the planet or the sentient beings or the avatars themselves — from where I sat anyway. But the 3-D effects, holy cow.  They are absolutely stunning.  I didn’t look away from the screen a single time during this film (except to roll my eyes at Sigourney Weaver, I should say).  I was completely mesmerized by the drops of water that appeared right before my eyes, the way the characters looked like they were really and truly standing there having a conversation six feet in front of me, and those little floating jellyfish-like things from the tree, flitting around so close to my seat that it felt at times like if I slowly moved my arm out, one might land softly on my hand.  That was pretty wow.  That was wow enough to be worth the torture of all the rest of it.

And so my advice is:  if you have any interest in seeing this film whatsoever, go see it right now, while it’s still in theaters.  See it in 3-D (preferably IMAX, if you can swing it), and see it right away.  Don’t wait for DVD.  If you wait for DVD, all you’re going to end up with is Dances with Wolves with blue Marfan-syndromed Native Americans and an actor only marginally more interesting to watch than Kevin Costner (Sam Worthington — he’s cute, but meh).  Does that sound like fun?  No.  No, it does not.  Trust me on this one.  Theater or bust.

And while I’m at it, Happy New Year!

[Prequeue me at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Science Fiction, Fantasy
Cast:  Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi

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12 Responses to “MOVIE: Avatar (2009)”

  1. Gail Says:

    My son called it when he described it as…

    Dances With Wolves + Ferngully + (voiceover) Innnnn Spaaaaaace

    The story and characters were painted with such a broad, stereotypical brush it was almost hard to watch. I have to say the 3D effects were absolutely spellbinding – that aspect of the film I enjoyed immensely.

  2. Didactic Pirate Says:

    I agree: all visual treat, no chewy story/nougat center. And even though it was great eye candy, it was NOT worth $14, which is what most So Cal theaters are charging for it. They attribute the high cost to the fact that it’s in 3-D, but I’m not buying it. Those glasses aren’t made of gold, know what I’m saying?

  3. igloomccoy Says:

    I totally agree with everything posted. The characters were just cliches and never anything more. The effects were so gorgeous though, they should’ve just cut the script and story altogether and just filmed the planet.
    Also, this isn’t really relevant but why hasn’t Neil Patrick Harris become a boyfriend of the week? He’s gay but…. He’s Doogie Houser and Doctor Horrible and Barney IForgetHisLastName.

  4. Liz Says:

    I LOVE NPH – and he can sing, too! He can also stand up to Nathan Fillion (who I also like.)

    Well, it looks like we made the right decision over the Xmas holiday, to go see “Sherlock Holmes,” and NOT “Avatar.” “Holmes” was very enjoyable, especially the BANTER between R. Downey Jr. and Jude Law. What a great team they made – I’m hoping for a sequel with those two. It was very visually effective, too.

    The only thing I’ve found amusing about “Avatar” so far is the sub-plot on “Bones” when “Hodges,” “Sweets,” and the “Zack-of-the-Week” try to keep their place in line to see the movie, without letting anyone else in the lab know!

  5. megwood Says:

    “Zach of the week” — ha ha! Awesome.

  6. Trip Says:

    Well, not much more I can say that others already haven’t – but yes, I came away from this flick unable to recall a single line of dialogue, I groaned at all the hero-must-rise cliches, even winced at the too-obvious 9/11 and environmental (It’s all a network!) messages…

    Some random thoughts I had while watching:

    * How the f##k are they going to transfer these FX to Blu-Ray?

    * Cameron spent years and millions making this, and ended up naming the local village “Treehome”? SRSLY?? “Unobtainium”? REALLY?

    * When is Sigourney Weaver going to talk about nuking the entire site from orbit, just to be sure?

    * Robot-armor suits are generally cool, but Matrix already did ’em. So did District 9. Further use of them in sci-fi flicks is now forbidden for at least 10 years.

    * If you scratch your Avatar in that spot just under the right arm, will that make its legs kick?

    But yes, it’s still a must-see just so you can tell your grandkids that You! Were! There! when movies made the next technical leap forward.

  7. Meg Says:

    “Unobtainium” I give Cameron a little credit for, because that’s a long-standing science geek joke. But Treehome, for REALS. This is my problem — 80 gazillion dollars and not a single creative writer on the staff? Not one? NOT ONE?! Good lord. Priorities, goddamn it. We’re not ALL morons out here.

    I second your moratorium on robot-armor suits. Motion passes.

  8. Liz Says:

    Transferring the FX to Blu Ray is exactly my worry. When the movie is no longer showing in theatres, will anyone want to see it any more? At least some other “block-buster/must see in theatres” movies – like “Star Trek” or “The Dark Knight” – had a bit of substance to them, so you can still enjoy them on DVD. This one, I don’t know!

  9. Liz Says:

    Just thought of something: does “Iron Man” count as a robot-armor suit? ‘Cuz if it does, then that nullifies the whole concept of “Iron Man.” And the sequel (with our RDJ, who is fast becoming one of my faves) is about to come out!

  10. Melinda Says:

    agree (101569875)

    My cousin (also a Meg reader) agrees as well. I had great fun playing the who’s-gonna-die game (only missed one. Michelle Rodriguez, can you survive a movie? Ever?) and I started giggling during the Grand Speech. I felt like the characters were, well, caricatures, really, especially the military guy, whatever his name was. I found the love story unconvincing and the plot bleh.

    That being said, HOLY CATS THAT MOVIE WAS AMAZING!!!! Whenever it went back to “the real world” I would feel vaguely lost and dissatisfied, and I can’t think of a single time when I thought “oops, messed up the CG a little bit, there.” I think I might go see it again while it’s in theaters, just for the graphics, because I don’t think it’s going to translate well to DVD/Blu-Ray/whatever.

  11. Liz Says:

    There’s something about “having” to go the a theatre, and shell out more bucks than usual, in order to appreciate a movie that just grates on me. I feel that seeing a movie in a theatre should be a choice, in order to have fun. I don’t like the idea that it might be impossible to appreciate “Avatar” without going to the theatre. It may be making scads of money now, but what will happen when it is eventually consigned to DVD’s?

  12. megwood Says:

    I’d argue that seeing movies in the theater is almost always the best way to appreciate them. It’s seeing them the way the director intended them to be seen, for one thing. And in my own personal experience, the setting of a dark theater with a screen that fills most of my field of vision transports me more fully into the film than I get transported when I’m in my well-lit, full-of stuff-I-probably-ought-to-be-working-on-instead-of-watching-movies living room. I recently saw Pretty in Pink on the big screen for the first time in my life, for example, after two decades of watching it a hundred gazillion times on my TV set. It was a completely different experience. It was almost a completely different movie. I saw things I had never seen before. I even HEARD things I had never heard before. They are just two radically different experiences — a movie on a small screen vs. on a big screen.

    The same is true for Avatar, it’s just extra-true here because the visual spectacle-ness of it, the CGI and 3-D effects, were such a massive element of the director’s vision for the film from day one. That element can’t be as fully appreciated on the small screen. It wasn’t intended to be seen that way (as most movies aren’t, I suspect). It can’t possibly have the same impact on the small screen.

    I don’t think this is unique to Avatar, though, is what I’m saying. One could make this same argument about almost any film. The difference here for me is that without the visual spectacle, there just isn’t anything else to Avatar that felt worthy of my appreciation. I have no doubt that all the bazillions of enormous Avatar fans out there would disagree with that and can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so they can watch it over and over again in their homes. But I didn’t connect to the story — I only connected to the visuals. So, from my perspective, seeing it in the theater is the only way to go.

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