saw avatar last weekend. since i’m a very important person, i have to put in my two cents about it. *sigh*…everybody’s an expert…
so. the glaring disparity of the film was that the goegousness and revolutionariness of the scope was totally undermatched with the derivative, ho-hum story. we’ve seen “dances with wolves”, “pocahontas”, “braveheart:, etc. nothing new was under the alien sun.
i was wrong to have thought that james cameron had based the film on source material – a video game. maybe, like cameron dreamt of the world of ‘pandora’ fifteen years ago, i dreamt of the video game “avatar.”
so, cameron is fully accountable for any dislikes. and, then again, that’s exactly what he was: accountable to his audience, and to the studio which financed a nearly half billion dollar film. you can’t risk alienating any significant portion of your potential audience by following a story that branches off from the main trunk of Hero Goes Native and Saves the World. you just can’t.
what would have been interesting would’ve been to follow a thread about the root system of the forest, and how it so mimicked the mapping of a human brain, or computers. that incredible synergy – that entropy whereby all becomes sameness – it’s fascinating. forest = computer = human brain. it’s all the same. and i don’t mean just story-wise, i mean, in reality. i believe it is. all roads lead to Rome.
any, i was underwhelmed by avatar. that’s just how it shakes out of the tree; the first hour was highly engaging and i got that sense, sort of otherworldly (no pun intended), with the 3D and the breadth and beauty of the world. there were moments when i was lost in it, rotoscoped right out of this universe. but after the first hour, as the film fell into the inevitable formulaic trappings, i grew bored. things started to heat-up and blow-up and i started to yawn. people ran around frantically on screen uttering cheesy, pat lines and my knee started to bounce and i wished i could go have a cigarette and was looking at my watch.
it came ’round again for a moment after the first big war, as the now-refugee blue cat people regrouped and our hero prepared to tame the dragon-beast, unite the clans, and save the planet – there were a few moments in there that i actually paid attention to, because they were fresh. but it collapsed again into the usual ruckus, and rally cries rang out and the score crashed and choired (and sounded JUST like another score or two i’d heard before.)
speaking of which, the sound the horses made (with the extra legs, hmmm), was the same sound used for the velociraptors in ‘jurassic park’, when they call each other, a kind of french-horn chuffing that made sense for the bird-like dinosaurs, but not for the six-legged horses. the marrying of iridescent aquatic life with dinosaur-ish forest creatures was neat-ish, and the land-of-the-lost giant mushrooms and plants and this and that was kinda cool. the best moment came at night, with the forest lit up and the two beautiful cat people under the spell of the sensuousness of it all – i wanted to stay and live in there with them, even if the giant panther-dinosaur with the predator face and t-rex growl (a la jurassic park) was out prowling around.
the thing is, despite all of this smarmy criticism of mine, the images and the feelings associated with the world of the film remained with me after i saw it, and into that night, and even followed me into the next morning. despite the generic story, some of the silliness of the forest animals and their sounds, and missed opportunities, there was something so sensual and ancient about the blue cat people that it stained me. and sustained me. it’s just that when you have something so elevated in scope and technology, you wish – and even expect – that the story would match it. you want to take this incredible world and explore it – not just touch on a few things before going for the usual thrills. and while that may be what you want, it’s not reality. reality is that a film of this size costs more than money. what it costs is the canvassing respect for each potential member of the audience, and then particularly for those most likely to feel that ‘avatar’ was the best movie they’d ever seen: the 13 year-olds. and, not coincidentally, i don’t think, those same 13 year-olds are not as apt to find the story derivative, as they likely haven’t seen very many of the films it so smacks of. not like an old fart like me has.