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Amazon wants me to pre-order Avatar.

Posted: March 20th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I got an email yesterday from Amazon asking if I wanted to pre-order my copy of Avatar. Of course, I deleted it right away. Here’s why: Avatar was not very good. Cheesy dialogue, “Fullhouse” morals, cardboard cutout characters… Nothing about this movie surprised me.

I had no reason to root for the protagonist and no reason to root against the antagonist, because James Cameron spent more time touching himself than he did building emotional connections. Ok, I get it: this was supposed to signal a revolutionary new way to create movies. But let’s get to the story: on one side we have a dude who is in a wheelchair who is just supposed to do the right thing all the time (we’ll call him Charlie from the Mighty Ducks), even when it means he has to go hang out in some world that he knows nothing about, fight to gain acceptance in, and will still only be a minor character in his dead brother’s shadow (though, granted, he does get his legs back!!!!). Do I feel bad because he’s in the wheelchair and his smart, scientific brother died? No. But that’s only because he shunned everyone who did feel sorry for him. He didn’t need help slinging his feet into the Matrix tanning beds, and damned if he needs help becoming a big blue thing. So he’s on his own. And the bad guys? How courageous…

They’re a faceless, greedy corporation that, much like the thinly-veiled nods to American imperialism, just seem to go on their own with no real motivation. That Parker guy, for instance, seemed to know the script for every single-sided bad villain ever, and he tried to hit them all. And the general, just doing his duty, even as he eschewed all sense of morality to spite Sigourney Weaver’s unwavering “I come in the name of science” character. The movie was filled with “that characters,” you know… The general was “that general who carries out his jingoistic duty even when he knows he’s the only one on his side but he needs to fit the chauvinistic military stereotype.” Norm was “that dweeby science-knowing helper sidekick.” True or false: if you replaced him with the sidekick from National Treasure (you could even keep all the National Treasure dialogue, just CGI him in), we would have still taken the same path. True. The hero was “that hero who overcomes diversity and unnecessary ridicule and general unacceptance because he makes himself a martyr for whatever self-righteous cause he decides he can carry alone on his shoulders… The chick was “that daughter of the king who has to prove herself and ends up falling in love with the cardboard hero.” and on and on. It’s as if the characters were chosen out of a catalog. “I’ll take one of those and one of those and one of those, and I’ll scramble them up and see what kind of story we can get.” The Lion King had more dimensional characters.

If there was supposed to be some sort of warning, an allegorical lesson about the need for responsible abuse of power (which, by the way, was already adequately covered by Spiderman), it was a bit on the nose. Third graders could walk away from this with the lesson that killing indigenous people to take their “unobtainium” (really?!) is a lot like slaughtering Native Americans to find their gold. And the bows and arrows didn’t give anything away… But it was about Vietnam you say? Or Iraq? Wow… Maybe it *was* allegorical… This thing works on all kinds of levels.

But let’s not be overly critical. The animation was incredible. It was top notch, and it was clear that they did their homework, improving the technology and leaving no leaf unturned… literally. But big fuckin’ deal? That’s like saying someone’s a good hockey player because he has cool new skates. If you can’t score, you’re not a very good hockey player. The 3D was fun, but it didn’t add anything to the story and it was pretty unnecessary throughout much if the film. Again, I chalk that up to a James Cameron reacharound.

I think the best thing I can say about this movie is that it didn’t feel as long as some of the other three hour movies I’ve seen, and that’s a good thing, because I had to pee almost from the beginning.

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