Friday, January 1, 2010

First Movie Review of 2010: Cool Blue People

If you have not seen Avatar, then don't read below as I will spoil it :)

Ok, first, the production values were incredible.  Just great animation, although the 3-D-ness did not bring that much to the table.  It was an enjoyable flick.
BUT I am tempted to re-title the movie "Dances with Elves/Ewoks."  I think that Cameron wanted to try out his new film-making procedures and crafted a very simple Cowboys/Corporations vs. Indians story so that he would have an excuse to show off his pretty stuff 

There were lots of cool features in the movie--the first flying scene was fun, the luminescent stuff was nice, the blue folks were nicely imagined.  The battle scenes were well choreographed.

But it was not a subtle flick, especially once the ex-Marine/private military contractor started talking about terror and pre-emption.  So, are the blue folks Iraqis or Indians?

And the Marine was a jarhead.  He did a nice job of orchestrating an aerial ambush, but the ground strategy of a frontal assault was just stupid.  I kept expecting it to be part of a trap.  But no, they had to have the mother spirit run the show far more successfully.  So, lots of the Na'vi died needlessly.  Aside from riding the nastiest beast and fighting well, the lead, Jake Sully, did not lead particularly well.

The stuff about the networked planet was good, but when some of this was discussed, I was almost hearing a Yoda-like voice saying "Hmmm, yes, together bound are we.  The trees, the plants, the creatures--sustains us they do."  Well, you get the idea.  A story does not have to be original to be compelling, but it does help.

So, was it a great movie?  No.  I just did not get sucked into the story that much.  The acting was fine, and the effects were amazing.  But I was not taken away to a magical place.  It is definitely to be seen in theaters, although I am not sure it was worth an addition $3.50 per head for the 3-d. 

The take home message--humans suck, capitalists suck, and American capitalist humans really suck.  Got it.  I am sure George Lucas is thinking somewhere  "If I had that technology, I could have used Blue folks for the Endor scene, rather than the Ewoks, but which make for better toys?"


Anonymous said...

Steve, I disagree with you on the 3D. I've seen it in both 3D and 2D (don't ask), and I think this is 3D done right--it isn't necessary in that there are no effects that depend on it, but it does bring the viewer deeper into the movie. To me, that (plus some awesome production values) makes what is otherwise a cliche-ridden and corny pastiche of Pocahontas, Ferngully, and The Lion King, with elements from Aliens and The Matrix (including the rave scenes from Matrix 2 and 3) fairly compelling. Besides, this is a James Cameron movie, so really it's all about the guns and machinery and other things non human (including the entire planet) anyway....

Mrs. Spew said...

I had been expecting something a little less macho, with some sort of stand-off and compromise reached, but instead it's really just a war story and not a very realistic one, except for the initial tree destruction maybe. And I can't imagine what they are going to do for the sequel -- the humans return after twelve years with three times the force and armaments and blow the Na'vi up with missles? There were so many dumb bits, things that did not make sense, like the humans have the whole planet to mine pretty much, but they want to start with the big vein under the tree, which is the most problematic site, and they waited for several years while the natives were studied, then are willing to give it another three months, but then, just when they have a negotiator who is actually getting somewhere, time's up? And then when the gung-ho Marine colonel messes up by going forward, bringing a potential force of natives who can overrun their base, does the corporate head fire the colonel who screwed up? Does he decide to move his guys to orbit temporarily until the Na'vi can be dealt with? Nope. So basically, everybody in the movie had the I.Q. of a turnip. The predator cat thing was the most strategic.

So I enjoyed the visual effects, which are definitely the next step in film evolution, and I was amused by how much he cribbed from Return of the Jedi, but I also couldn't get into the thing for more than five minutes at a time, even with Sigourney Weaver doing her bestest. However, our daughter, who has seen fewer movies and learned from us to not be very discriminating, thought it was very cool, and it's nice for her generation to have something that is their own spectacle franchise. Maybe the next story will be better.