Friday, February 12, 2010

Avatar, the movie. The good, the bad and the ugly.

THE GOOD: I anxiously awaited the opportunity to go and see James Cameron's latest sci-fi epic Avatar. I was not disappointed. This movie is a masterpiece with a complex story about humans from a future America, driven by greed and profit, who are mining a rare element needed for industrial purposes back on Earth. The planet called Pandora, that contains this rare substance is a sight to behold with all its unique natural beauty but it is populated by a race of beings, the Na'vi,  that have little or no technology and are spiritually entwined with the natural forces of their planet. The planet is also extremely toxic to humans who are only able to work on the surface using genetically created avatars, virtually identical to the inhabitants. The story begins well after the mining operation has begun and the humans have already constructed immense scientific laboratories along with their gigantic excavating equipment. The mining operation is protected by a quasi-military army of mercenaries. The latest member of this force is a wheelchair-bound ex-marine named Jake who was a last minute fill-in for his deceased brother. Seems the avatars are created using DNA from their human partners and the ex-marine's DNA was a match for his brother's avatar. The blend of photo-realistic animation along with live acting is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. While sitting in the theater watching this film I easily understood why it took so long to make.

I was already a big fan of James Cameron since I have several of his movies in my sci-fi movie collection so I watched this movie with a favorable bias. Cameron gave us The Abyss, Aliens and the first two Terminator films which were all some of the best sci-fi ever produced. It has been said that James Cameron started working on Avatar soon after he finished making Titanic over ten years ago. The level of technology required to complete his vision did not exist so he literally had to invent some of it. Those who enjoy sci-fi movies know that these kind of films do not get reviewed as fairly as others. Professional film critics often judge a sci-fi movie by the standards one would compare a script to Shakespeare. While dialog and plot are important it is the quality of the spectacle that counts the most and James Cameron has provided the highest quality of both by giving us a complex story that is well written along with an eye-popping visual extravaganza. 

THE BAD: For some weird reason Avatar has attracted dozens of critics who have condemned this film for being everything from anti-American, to anti-religious, to even pro-communist and almost any other detracting sentiment you can think of. The movie takes place almost two centuries in the future in a time no one can contemplate so because the human characters were American and they were the bad guys the movie was anti-American. If this comparison is justified then every film that depicts bad politicians or evil government assassins should also be anti-American. Because the native inhabitants communed with nature on a level of connectivity we cannot fathom does not make this an anti-religious movie. That religious angle was offered up by a preacher, by the way, who probably saw sin and corruption everywhere he looked. As far as the pro-communist complaint, that was probably the result of the way the alien inhabitants lived. These disparaging remarks haven't convinced anyone from staying away as this film has just surpassed the box office record set by Cameron's other epic, Titanic. I don't know anything about James Cameron's politics, religion or lifestyle and I don't care about them either. I am a patriotic, conservative, Christian Republican and I loved this movie in spite of what others have said.

THE UGLY: There is only one part of this movie that I did not like and it was the presentation in 3-D. I have not seen a 3-D movie in over 50 years and back then it involved wearing cardboard eyeglasses with red and green lenses. This modern version of 3-D uses gray polarized lenses and while the 3-D effect works the glasses dim the vivid images on the screen. I plan on seeing this movie once more in the theater in the 2-D version and I look forward to later this year to being able to buy the 2-D version in Blu-Ray. I also hope that now that James Cameron has the time maybe he will make a Blu-Ray issue of Titanic.


  1. It sounds like a great movie .. have you ever thought of being a movie critic ? Great write up


    Avatar: In Hindu mythology, an appearance, manifestation; personification, embodiment

    I discovered a sure-fire way to save at least twenty-five bucks. That’s the cost of two movie matinee tickets plus popcorn and soda in our ‘burb and it’s a bargain, except when it’s wasted on Avatar.

    In case you haven’t seen it yet, don’t bother.

    I’d give it 2 3/4 stars–mainly for the special effects. Add a star if you appreciate paying for propagandistic, anti-American swill disguised as an science fiction-adventure-romance and add another if you go see it thinking it compares with director James Cameron’s previous epic, Titanic. It doesn’t.

    That would give it almost six stars which is what most critics would assign Avatar out of a possible four, if they could. In actuality, it’s too long (150 minutes), too derivative of Cameron’s Alien, and entirely too predictable down to the cataclysmic denouement. If I were to spend 4 years and $300 million on a film, I’d try harder.

    The propaganda isn’t even subtle. Consider:

    . Set in 2154 A.D., the movie begins with chatter about how super-valuable some exotic mineral is and how a firm, an American firm, of course, is going to extricate it from the equally or more exotic planet of Pandora, like the box. Refugees from “a dying planet,” with depleted resources, the humans are remarkably calm in their desperation and in their willingness to decimate Pandora’s denizens.

    . In the process of stealing the resources from the innocent and assumed-defenseless Pandora, if they have to despoil this paradise then they have to despoil it.
    (Read the rest at

  3. THE BAD: I guess you missed it. I see it very clearly. It must be a difference of philosophy or something. The fact of the matter is I DON’T NEED HOLLYWOOD TO EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT IS MORAL AND WHAT IS NOT MORAL. Hollywood is meant for entertainment, Hollywood is not meant for human conditioning.

    Cameron’s movie is giant political statement. This is unfortunate.
    This movie did not have to be a political statement. In this movie:
    Why does America have to be evil?
    I live in America and I don’t think we are that evil. I think we are industrious. We are frontiersmen. We are on the cutting edge. We are humanitarians.
    What is wrong with Capitalism? What is wrong with trying to make a profit?
    Capitalism has been the economic backbone of America for over 230 years and we are one of the strongest countries economically because of it. Our government needs a lot of help, nonetheless, Americans are still some of the wealthiest people on the planet, because of capitalism and because of the theory of making a profit.
    What is wrong with mining for valuable minerals?
    Mining for valuable minerals has been a way of life for thousands of years.
    Without it, we would not have aluminum cans for our sodas.
    What is wrong with cutting down trees?
    Don’t trees make a durable product in which we can make our homes?
    We still have trees, and the “green” movement is outdated: that’s so 90’s!
    Why do we want to promote Communism to our children?
    It is okay for us to care about each other collectively, but really now, seriously does a movie need to promote the positive aspects where everything is distributed to all evenly?
    Why do we need to depict our American military force as being evil warmongers out for a profit?
    American soldiers are on the frontline dying for you and me so we can be free today in the capitalistic economy in which we live, and I am personally and amazingly grateful for those soldiers and the freedom upon which they stand.

    The storyline could have rolled out differently.
    Instead of America being depicted as evil war-mongers, the Americans could have been the industrious pioneering frontiersmen of the future on a quest to seek out new civilizations, to learn more about the new civilizations, and teach the new civilizations how to improve their lifestyles, all the while teaching the new civilizations how to establish an economy that would enable fair trade for goods and services.

    The bottom line is, as I stated before, Hollywood does not have a soul as far as I am concerned. Entertainers are merely entertainers and they need to stick to their craft of entertaining. If these entertainers truly feel like they need to stand up for their “beliefs” then they need to step out of the entertainment role and move to supporting their beliefs instead. I don’t need some Hollywood guru teaching me or my children his or her own version of what he or she thinks is right or wrong. For this reason Avatar is a complete waste of time.

  4. Avatar is just a movie. Period. It was made to entertain and in that light it must have succeeded. You can probably find some form of propaganda anywhere you look, if you want to. Just like different people like different kinds of music, if you don't like sci-fi don't waste your money buying a ticket. There have been scores of films of every genre that have depicted the evils of corrupt industrialists but I don't recall such an out cry of protest before.

  5. Geketa, I am not now and never have been a movie critic and have no ambitions to be one. I only wrote this because I got sick and tired of seeing the off the wall criticisms from every soap box patriot.


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