Thursday, January 14, 2010
Avatar - My Review
Oy Avatar. Where do I start? The script was so bad that I can’t even write about it coherently because in my head I just start ranting!
Ok. First things first. Can we pretty please with mother effing sugar on top finally retire the phrase "We’re not in Kansas anymore!" and not have it appear in any screenplay EVER AGAIN?? See, here’s an example of the ranting in my head: I can’t remember if it is ever specified in the film in what year Avatar actually takes place, but from the advanced technology that is presented I have to guess that it is very, very far into the future. Are you telling me that people are still freaking quoting The Wizard of Oz in the most clichéd way imaginable??? The human race did not evolve past that? Ugh. I feel like this calls for a session of Really!?! with Seth and Amy.
Ok I can’t bring myself to focus enough on this to write a real review. Here are some bullet points instead. WARNING: MILD SPOILERS!!.
What I liked:
• The Special Effects (obviously) – The effects were marvelous, breathtaking, wondrous. The CGI was fairly flawless. At first I wasn’t so sure, but once you got used to the Na’vi, it worked. They felt real.
• Zoe Saldana – Her "performance" was fantastic. In fact, Neytiri was probably my favorite part of the entire film. This is where the amazement at this motion capture CGI comes in, because she was a complex character fully realized.
• The Beauty of Pandora – it was truly stunning: colorful, layered, and whimsical.
• The 3D – I’m glad I saw this in IMAX 3D because if I didn’t have it to distract me from the horrible script, I don’t know if I would have made it through the entire film. At first the 3D is so cool that it’s almost TOO distracting, but by the end of the film it has immersed you completely and feels natural.
• The Dude Who Played the Colonel – The Colonel is not a character, he’s a caricature, but the actor looked awesome and played it for ultimate camp value (intentionally or not) which I enjoyed.
What I Didn’t Like:
• The Script – We’ve seen this story before, right? I think Disney did this story already with a cartoon called Pocahontas? Substitute John Smith with Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully and Pocahontas with Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri and all the Native Americans with the Na’vi and you pretty much get the same story. The allegorical heavy handedness was making my eyes roll in the back of my head.
• The Cheesetastic Dialogue – James Cameron seems to have the same problem as George Lucas: great director, terrible writer of dialogue. Just look at my "We’re not in Kansas anymore!" example from above. Oh and calling the special mineral that the Earthlings want to mine "unobtainium?" Puh-leeeease!
• Sigourney Weaver – Did she suddenly forget how to act? "I’m a tough talking scientist who doesn’t take any guff from bureaucrats! You don’t believe me? Don’t you see me smoking this cigarette?"
Discussing the film afterward with my boyfriend, he said something that perfectly encompasses how I feel about the movie. He said that it was indeed technically spectacular, but because the script was so bad he has no desire to see it again. Exactly. Why would you spend all that money to make this technically awesome movie but not seem to spend any of it on a good script?? Is James Cameron’s ego just THAT big? Wait. . .I just answered my own question, didn’t I? If only Cameron had actually delivered a film that had a script to match it’s technical accomplishment, then the more discerning viewer (like me) would have shelled out the money to see this film many times and he’d make even more money than he already is. But when grosses are already at the 4 billion mark worldwide, this statement is probably moot.
In the end, I am dazzled by the technological advancements in filmmaking that are on display in Avatar. If the future of filmmmaking is here, please put it in the hands of a writer/director of the caliber of Alfonso Cuaron or Christopher Nolan or Jane Campion or Quentin Tarantino and let them take it to the next level. That’s what really excites me about Avatar: the possibility.
Someone actually took a synopsis of Disney's Pocohontas and did this (clickie to make biggie):