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Avatar -Wasting my money so you don't have to

Posted by Ozzallos Sunday December 20 2009 at 9:56PM
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It's been a bit since I've seen a halfway decent scifi at the movies, and after seeing the Avatar trailers plastered all over TV, I was thinking that, yeah, maybe this was the movie to break that dry spell. With a production value exceeding that of some third world nation's defense budgets, one expects something besides a 3d parlor trick that will raise your ticket price by three dollars over the standard 2d showing; and that ultimately brings us to the three hundred million dollar question:

Is James Cameron's nine digit budget behemoth worth the three hours you'll be sitting in front of the screen or the higher price you'll pay for it?

Hell no.

In fact, save yourself the money and go rent Dances With Wolves; such is the state of this particular movie's plot. Fail runs rampant through Avatar from start to finish due to not only the heavily recycled plot, but a politically correct bludgeoning that is far too obvious for its own good and feels the need to beat the viewer with it at every turn. You have, in no particular order: Environmentalism, tolerance, evil corporations, the plight of war veterans and crimes against the Native American Indians all thrown into an ill-conceived hodge-podge that does little to endear any movie-goer looking for more out of their dollar than a shallow, regurgitated theme of guilt.

Not that this particular reviewer minds the themes of social responsibility or a well put together movie featuring said components, but this feels like Cameron's laziest work yet, frankly; so much so that it felt like he used a random plot generator to pull well used plots devices out of a hat to be pasted on to one another at random.

Mind you, the movie is pretty. Damn pretty, and it has to be one of the best so far in its attempts to merge a predominantly CG environment with live acting. That three hundred million went somewhere and it's obvious that it all went into make an immersive CG world. The acting was likewise solid, and it's really amazing how well the cast was able to work through such contrived material, saving Avatar in places it really had no right being saved in. While Sam Worthington (playing crippled war veteran Jake Sully) manages to play a merely passable Kevin Costner, Stephen Lang (as Colonel Miles Quaritch) makes an exceptional antagonist, and there are likewise a few surprises to be had in the peripheral cast.

Even so, there is little to make up for the fact that the entire plot is a throw away article. Social and moral brainwashing aside, a healthy amount of Aliens was borrowed for the human power base; so much so that you could easily wedge Avatar into the same universe and not even blink. To point, we have Sigourney Weaver (as the prickly Dr. Grace Augustine) and aforementioned Stephen Lang- who unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in Aliens, as well -to further reinforce the fairly stale plot.

There are a lot of things I wanted to like about this movie. Even with the heavily abused Dance with Wolves theme and subsequent flogging of Aliens, I loved the world Cameron managed to craft, if not its execution. Even though the vague association with his Aliens universe was completely unnecessary, it did fit the human contingent to a tee and likewise made for a fitting standoff versus the natives organic lifestyle. But for every moment I liked, sloth raised its ugly head.

How convenient that our hero should know nothing about the environment he was to be dropped into, but should encounter an English speaking native on his first life or death run through the jungle? And that's not nearly as bad as the "foreigner meets important native female/love interest, antagonizing native male warrior expecting to marry said love interest, friction ensues" theme you see in EVERY film along the same lines. Similarly, out of a base several hundred humans, only five have an attack of conscious over the mass killing of an alien species and damn those evil Native American Indian hating, pollution endorsing, rich capitalist, veteran hating, George Bush war mongering humans.

Did I mention the 9-11 Trade Center tower collapse scene thrown in as the blaringly obvious emotional impact segment? And you think I'm joking.

"Stale cliché" best describes this work, and while he's done great movies in the past, Avatar is probably the furthest thing from James Cameron's finest hour. I will applaud him on the visuals, casting and surprisingly, the length. This movie could have been a complete bucket of suck if he had caved to the voices of reason undoubtedly trying to fit Avatar into an hour and a half to two hour format. Anything less would have cut away crucial plot development- social responsibility themes non withstanding -and gutted the movie of any value what-so-ever.

Avatar is a rental at best, unless you're one of those, like myself, who are on a sci-fi dry spell and don't mind a liberal dose of Die Hard action sprinkled throughout. If you've watched Kevin Costner's flick at any time in a previous life, Avatar is likely to come through as derivative, though the alien theme might help stave off the slitting of your wrists until the two hour mark, where things finally come to a head.

Better yet, pick up a C.J. Cherryh novel. She does this sort of thing light years better than this wild stab at the stranger in a strange alien land plot.


Batak_Killer writes:

 The movie was awesome! Fun, imaginative and 3D! I hadnt had that much fun in a theatre in 5 years... or more! 

Fri Dec 25 2009 3:41AM Report
rafaelrehn writes:

Same here it was an audio visual feast. It didn't cure cancer (which I did't expect it to) and there have been other movies that reused stories before but i loved the IMAX 3d overdose of colour. btw your review put me to sleep by line 3 tl;dr

Fri Dec 25 2009 2:32PM Report
deadmilk writes:

I loved the movie!!!  I'm going again to see it  with a friend that hasn't seen it yet.  Can't wait!   Awful review

Fri Dec 25 2009 5:27PM Report
Thomas2006 writes:

 You have to take it for what its worth. It's the first movie in a trilogy of movies that are going to come out based in the Avatar world.

People tend to overlook some of the less seen things. Like the fact that the world of Pandora is based around real physics and dynamics of a real world. Also the fact that its a real life Alpha Cent. location and everything within the movie can be explained via Science shows that the developers really took the time and care to hand craft this world into what it is.

Yes the story is very basic but also in the grand scheme of things its the entry point into a series and a IP that could well go on to do great things.

You go on to point out how things in the movie could be based upon events in human socity. Well to be fair with the movie 90% of the movies that have ever been released have been based upon events that have happened in our world. Everything has to start from a idea somewhere and most ideas come out of events that have happened to someone or some people.

People look at Avatar and draw alot of lines to events in our history but James Cameron has already came out and said that people are picking at strings to link things from the movie to real life events and come up with some excuss. 

Regardless what we think the movie has done amazingly well and continues to good across the movie industry showing that people are enjoying the movie and watching it multiple times.

Fri Dec 25 2009 10:33PM Report
Comnitus writes:

Eye candy. It brings all the little kids to the store. Me included, I'm going to see it just because of the special effects.

Sat Dec 26 2009 12:34AM Report
Honourblade writes:

Ignore this review people, just go see it for yourself, it's great :)

Sat Dec 26 2009 4:56AM Report
bishbashbosh writes:


Sat Dec 26 2009 5:19AM Report
alakram writes:

The movie is awesome.

Sat Dec 26 2009 5:42AM Report
kingtommyboy writes:

I don't agree, your review really sucks...

This movie was just awesome, real eye candy

Sat Dec 26 2009 6:43AM Report
Melquisedec writes:

Worst review ever. This movie is TOTALLY AWESOME. I'm already waiting for Avatar 2 from James Cameron!

Sat Dec 26 2009 8:24AM Report
rafaelrehn writes:

Avatar = lot more entertaining than the reviewer

Sat Dec 26 2009 3:26PM Report
Omnipro writes:

Darn I wrote like three paragraphs trying to counter this review, but lost it.

Lost it when I accidently hit the back button on my thousand button super mouse ><.

Oh well.

Movie is great just for the action, ground breaking special effects that are even better in 3D or ZOMG IMAX 3D.

It's not the gimmicky Whoa Look Out 3D either.

You are literally zapped into another world.

The story isn't original, but what is today, and it is reimagined to be different enough.

The story is good, the acting is good.

Just go see it for yourself (IN 3D).

Sat Dec 26 2009 4:16PM Report
krakken writes:

yeah i can agree with you ozzallos, total over hyped and over rated mainstream crap. some good visuals thats all .... and you have to expect the visuals like that with so much money.

story is old ....

what a waste of money !

Sun Dec 27 2009 5:36AM Report
madonvibes writes:

I agree that the "killing natives for riches and land" theme is thrown in our faces way too much. The plots are definitely recycled which didn't impress me either.

Although I really like the idea of the whole planet being one giant web of synapses. That the Omaticaya could bond with animals and their environment. That was pretty cool.

It's like Cameron painted and awesome background for his painting, and then took a crayon and drew stick figures on it.

Sun Dec 27 2009 12:02PM Report
fgauer writes:

 I couldn't disagree with this 'review' more...go see the movie. It's entertainment pure and simple. For what it is, it's a triumph in many ways.

Sun Dec 27 2009 1:21PM Report
DiTH writes:

If you take this preview seriously i can definately say u will miss a lot. DO YOURSELF A FAVOR DONT BUY 2 PACKS OF CIGS or 10 COKES And go see this movie in an IMAX 3D.I hope he does a lot more with the 3d in the next movies.

Sun Dec 27 2009 7:44PM Report
Fr0z1nDuDe writes:















This Blog PHAILS...

bury this plz...

Sun Dec 27 2009 11:42PM Report
zerotragedy writes:

... This review must have been done by someone that loves to criticize, over-evaluate or nag like a frickin woman.  This movie was definitely a good way to blow time, definitely rewatchable too.  Watch the 3D if you really want to enjoy it.

Mon May 31 2010 6:30PM Report
pjskull writes: Aaagh! I am a year late to your review (because I knew the movie would be trite garbage and waited to rent it) and I could not agree with your review more... This movie was douchebag white guilt paint by numbers... I am a very liberal person, but one thing I can't abide is having my intelligence insulted and this movie does this over and over again. Anyone writing a script that has the cliche Pocahantas love triangle in it needs to realize they are a lazy hack and they need to stop what they are doing immediately. Bucket of suck, indeed. Shame on you, Cameron. Your arc of actual filmaking quality has a distinct downward angle... (Even if box office is up.) Can't anyone do scifi anymore? P.S. Reading the comments and must retort: Peeps, if you liked this movie, you are not that bright. It's pure poop. Thu Jan 06 2011 7:11PM Report writes:
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