Wednesday, December 30, 2009


So I finally saw Avatar. I was aware of this movie's main message long before I first put on the 3D goggles. Primitive, tribal, arrow-shooting aliens - good, advanced technology-using humans - bad. This is quite ironic since the only interesting thing about this movie turned out to be the mind-bogglingly advanced technology that made its alien world come alive in 3D. The story itself is quite mediocre.

About the tech: the 3D was spectacular, though not without occasional problems. Sometimes characters appeared thinner than they should have been and sometimes things that should have been in focus were out of it. A lot of talented artists must have put a lot of effort into creating Pandora's fauna. The horse, the lion, the dog, the dragon of human mythology and many other creatures were reimagined in a fresh, exciting way.

Sadly, not so for the PC dogma saturating Avatar's script. Besides the tired old noble savage delusion the movie had a lot to say about the evils of civilized manhood. The genius scientist character is of course played by a woman who makes obligatory fun of civilized hero's (but never of the noble savages') intelligence. And this is from a guy who's known as a techie. The main character's betrayal of his own, which in this case means all of humanity, is served up as heroism. The same exact traits (a martial ethos, for example) are presented as unforgivably evil among civilized men and as ennobling among the savage aliens. There are plugs for global warming awareness, anti-capitalism (this from the creator of all the biggest blockbusters of his generation), and the modern anti-war movement. Even though I'm against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars myself, seeing Cameron's hyper-hypocritical ass come out as anti-war almost made me want to turn pro-war.


  1. Pretty good quick-and-dirty summary, but I think you're missing part of the idea with this movie. Yes, there were some rather heavily-implicit eco-friendly, anti-industry morals involved, but the movie was mostly just a solid fantasy/adventure movie. I hate the hypocrits on the left as much as the next guy, and probably much more, but I enjoyed Avatar (and perhaps the overarching idea of it's message, if not the actual hypersimplified message itself) quite a bit; I never felt Cameron was beating me over the head with his moral, but simply including the general overtones and leaving it in a "take what you will from it" fashion.

    Yes, the story was cliche - what isn't these days? - but not in a bad way. It was a good (not great), solid, traditional narrative. The storytelling, however, was what made it great. Regardless of what one may think of James Cameron, he is a pretty darn good director. The thing about Avatar is that it is a relatively conventional story portrayed in a way that is more-or-less fantastically different from anything that has been done before. A must-see, even if only for the 3D CGI experience, regardless of your political views.

    Anyway sorry for the long post; it feels like you could use some talk around here anyway. Looks like you have an interesting blog; I'll be sure to check back in the future.

  2. Prometheus, thank you for posting this blog's first comment and thank you for your kind words about my blog.

    I agree that Avatar is a must-see movie, if only for the CGI and the 3D. I've seen interviews with Cameron, and he seemed like s super-smart guy in them. I'm guessing that his plots are cliched more because he wants to reach the widest possible audience than because of any personal limitations on his part.