Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)

I finally saw the big film of last year. I was put off by the hype, as well as the criticism. I have to tell you though, I don't think it is worthy of all the derision.

The biggest complaint that I think does not hold water is the racial bias towards the hero. Yes, Jake Sully is a white guy, but he did not have to be. That is just how Hollywood works still. He was not the big savior because he was a white guy, or that he came from a super-industrialized civilization, it was because he was the right person in the right place, at the right time. The role could have been played by Zoe Bell or John Cho.

I will not rehash the story, as likely most of you know how it goes. Planet of people who are an analog of North America's First Nations peoples are sitting on a natural resource that industrialized people want. Sully, a former marine, is sent to try brokering an agreement, as well as to spy. There is a Pocahontas/John Smith relationship there, but this is not something that just happened to Native Americans. It happens everywhere in the world where industrialized people want coal, gold, diamonds, oil, lithium, or slaves. The way Sully is to infiltrate their society is by forming a link with a test-tube aboriginal, and controlling it's body as though it were his own. This is the crux of his success.

If jocks are good for anything it is physicality. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of one's body is the essence of physical prowess. Being a jock, Sully is able to control his new body with greater control and with a shorter learning curve than his educated colleagues. His prowess more than anything is what gets him in the good standing of the local populace, as they are a warrior people and respect warriors more than anyone else. This is much like Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter, as well as Frank Herbert's Paul Atreides (another off-world chosen one).

As for the film... The CGI was a bit much, but they did do a nice job of making the characters personable and identifiable. It went on a tad long, but I don't think James Cameron can take a dump in under two hours these days. It is just a good, action-y sci-fi film that was more enjoyable than any of the Star Wars prequels.


Simon McNeil said...

*Cough cough* Daniel Atreides?

You... do mean Paul Atreides right?

Darius Whiteplume said...

Oh, crap. I haven't read/watched Dune in a long time. :-)

Copyboy said...

Yeah. i have to eventually see it. I've heard good and meh things too.

Darius Whiteplume said...

It's definitely worth watching, but nothing to get too worked up over.

Kal said...

Daniel Atreides was the younger brother the family never talked about. He actually ran across the sand looking for the ocean and they never saw him again.

I just have a problem with Cameron's skills as a story telling. I was rewritting this movie in my head the whole way. Predictable is being kind. Too bad his ego wouldn't allow someone to draft a story that were a match to those amazing visuals. He's a great technician but a piss poor director. This movie was okay for the time I was watching it but left my head the moment I was out the theatre door.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I _knew_ there was a Daniel Atreides! :-D

My three year-old niece is apparently bat shit crazy for this movie, so maybe he should go into childrens' films? It was pretty forgettable, but whether that was Cameron or the source material I am not sure.

Lisa said...

I guess I am one of the few people who haven't watched 'Avatar' and aren't planning to do so.
I don't know why, but the poster alone scares me away :D

Darius Whiteplume said...

No stress about that. I have still not seen E.T., Top Gun, or Red Dawn, and those are fairly requisite for someone of my advanced years. :-D

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