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December 19, 2009

Last night, I went with a group of people to see James Cameron’s new film, Avatar. My initial thoughts: only James Cameron can take Pocahontas, throw in a dash of FernGully and a pinch of Dances with Wolves, and turn it into a wicked 3 hour anti-imperialist, pro-environmentalist sci-fi epic.

That’s not to say the film’s great β€” Cameron’s formula is tired to say the least β€” but it’s still pretty damn good despite its unremarkable plot. Make no mistake, the movie’s a visual masterpiece. Cameron takes CG filmmaking to an entirely new level with his revolutionary VFX, which are nothing short of stunning. And believe me, the 3D helps a WHOLE lot.

But sadly, the film falls flat in almost every other area. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good old-fashioned action/romance once in a while, but a film as visually groundbreaking as this deserves an equally groundbreaking script. Instead, Cameron appears to have played it safe with cliche after predictable cliche, presumably to make it appealing to as wide of an audience as possible.

And while I appreciate its centre-left politics, I feel Cameron does them a bit of a disservice by disseminating them through simplistic stereotypes that almost ridicule themselves, e.g., idealized natives with, as a my friend once quipped, “a utopic level of peace and harmony with nature and each other,” over-the-top American-style imperialism, a greedy corporate exec who cares more about his company’s quarterly earnings than his conscience, etc.

Nevertheless, the movie as a whole has such an incredible impact that it mostly makes up for its unoriginal storyline and one-dimensional characters, as does the solid performances by Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and the rest of the cast. As many faults as this film has, they didn’t stop stop me from enjoying it, and that’s what I think makes it worth seeing in the theatre.

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One Comment
  1. Avatar to me represented a way of getting back into harmony with nature, which as you'd suspect is the type of thinking I'd be attuned to. πŸ™‚

    It represented the stream of life, of change, in physical ways that could be seen (basically it gave sentient qualities to a 'mother nature'), but this could open the eyes of some people that reality is indeed all inter-connected/related.

    We distance ourselves from life but at some point will no longer be able to ignore it. This has already begun as we understand how damaging we have been to what is a 'symbiotic' relationship between ourselves our environment.

    That the movie came to be made is an indication of the awakening of humanity in the same way that The Matrix is — pieces of the puzzle are coming into play. Our minds are blind, our eyelids heavy and closed…..but the psychiatrist is slowly counting down, telling us it'll be time to wake up soon.

    Namaste

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