It's difficult not to have certain expectations going into a film. I try my hardest to be as neutral as possible as I sit down in a seat, doing my best to enjoy a film for what it is, not what I want it to be. I don't want to get my hopes too high and I don't want to go into a theatre hating a film that I haven't even seen yet. However, it doesn't always work. Some movies you want to play out exactly as you envision them - as you expect them to be. But going to the movies is a gamble. Films can go both ways (that's what she said.)
But Avatar!...Avatar! I thought Avatar was a sure thing. I put all my money on Avatar...and I'll give you three reasons why: The Terminator, T-2, and The Abyss. That track record alone is enough to get me in the theatre. And even though I'm not by any means a fan of Avatar (downright didn't like it), I'll still see a sequel just because Cameron's the man and he deserves respect. Plus, the second act is usually the juiciest part of a story.
But FUUUUCK! What happened? What is this? This is what I was so amped up for? What my buddies and I were talking so much about the weeks leading up to its release? This is what Cameron has been planning for over a decade, developing new technology just so he could make this "epic?" The only epic part about this film IS the technology, and of course, the mountains of bills being stuffed into its 3-D g-string.
I didn't see this in 3-D. I guess I should mention that. But I don't feel a film should have to be seen in 3-D to get the "full experience." The story should come first before anything visually, and sadly, Cameron just doesn't come through. It's a story I've heard a thousand times. And while I can acknowledge the notion that every story takes from stories before it and everything is basically a copy of something else, Avatar is just too predictable for James Cameron. He brings no originality, other than visual, to a plotline as old as the bible.
- A young warrior is selected to infiltrate a people to learn the secrets of its destruction. But he falls in love with this new world and its inhabitants and eventually turns and rebels against his own people and his former ideals.-
This is all good stuff, but Cameron puts no spin, no style, nothing unique that would makes us forget we've heard this story before...many, many times. And surprisingly, the acting does nothing to help. Sigourney Weaver and Giovannia Ribisi are two stereotypical crusaders for their respective causes; science and industry, bickering back and forth over what is morally right and what is financially right. I found my attention wandering immediately. Who cares about "Unobtanium" and which side is right in how to OBTAIN it? Retarded.
Sam Worthington is bland the film throughout. What is the big deal with this guy? Why is everyone on his nuts so hard? I just don't see it. A lacking script regardless, Worthington had more than enough to work with to produce an engaging character: paralyzation, a dead twin brother, this is all meaty stuff. But Worthington puts this aside, focusing more on being an action hero than developing his character. I, at no point during the film, cared about Jake, his plight, his confusion, or pretty much anything he did.
I cared even less about the Na'vi. I'll read some Zinn (or the news) if I want a good genocidal scare. This theme is all too real in our own world for me to care about some fictional peoples' peril. I cared more about Ferngully than Pandora, fo sho fo sho.
And the fact that people are becoming severely depressed about Pandora being fictional is insane. I mean, you're pissed about the fact that you don't get to run around bare-footed in the trees and be a child of nature? So am I! So are most of us, I'm sure. But I'm also depressed I can't be a wizard, or a cowboy, or Fox Mulder. But get over it. Grow up. You can thank our ancestors, and technology, and our overworking of the planet for eliminating that possibility for us. It's like white mans guilt reversed - white mans jealousy. The Doors said it best: "People are Strange."
And while I obviously didn't like Avatar, I have to acknowledge the beast that it has become. I was in awe at the beauty of the film. The detail and color are astounding. The beasts, the beads of sweat, the lifelike expressions on these 8 foot tall Smurfs - amazing. Advanced motion capture and a super-computer that can melt your face churn out a world that is guaranteed to engage you visually, just not emotionally. These methods will be used on all future films requiring special effects, I'm sure. And in no way is that a bad thing.
And of course, look how much money is being taken in. Yes I know, inflation, blah blah blah. But you can't deny close to $2 Billion dollars. And it'll probably pass that.
But strip aside the money, the mania, and the groundbreaking effects, and you have a film as weak as its leading characters legs. Jake Sulley can stand on his own better than Avatar. And though I tried my hardest not to, I expected more from the man who gave us the T-1000 and Ed Harris bitch-slapping the shit out of Mary Mastrantonio.
Stephen Lang was the shit, though. When he went Patton on that gunship with his handgun...TITS!