I finally caved in and went to see the movie Avatar the other night. What I was met with was a strange balance of both utter astonishment and nagging disdain for the political subtleties that infest the plot.
That is why I find myself in a bit of a conundrum here.
Avatar was, without a doubt, the most entertaining movie I have ever seen in the theater. It is astonishing to even hear myself say that. You are met with a blast of bright, vivid color, music, sound and action that deserves and demands your constant attention. The actual running time of close to three hours felt more like thirty minutes. This movie seriously made the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like child's play in terms of special effects and action. Can't complain there.
Unfortunately though, film is not all about action sequences and explosions, unless you are a sixteen year old pothead.
Avatar is visually stunning, but lacks where it counts in terms of story, acting, writing and everything in between. It's a typical intelligence insulting product of Hollywood, replete with corny one liners, hideous acting, shallow characters, and a plot full of "subtle" political agendas.
Here's what really bothered me:
1) The big blue humanoid inhabitants of Pandora were nothing but smurf-like American Indians. They behaved, spoke, and lived like a tribe of Iroquois would. Talk about originality. In reality, this was just an effort to paint American expansion in a bad light.
2) The portrayal of the United States Marines was appalling. Bloodthirsty, killing machines with no soul, that's all they are. Unless they become "liberated" by the pureness of nature or science.
3) Here's what I like to call the "girl power element". Films love to cater to the feminist movement by inserting female characters into plots that act like Rambo. In this particular movie we have a female Marine pilot named Trudy Chacon, played by Michelle Rodriguez, who courageously rebels when the war begins. This would be fine by me if the character could talk and act like a normal human being, instead of trying to act like a robot on steroids, unable to speak a word of dialogue without trying to act like a hardass. No thanks. You can have your "girl power".
4) Anti Americanism in general. This plot tries to be subtle but anyone with half a brain could easily pick this out. Cameron lays out a condemning portrayal of American history, driven by expansion, industrialization, and violence. Ultimately, it is an indictment of Capitalism and greed. Sorry to burst your bubble Cameron, but American Capitalism is making you rich off of this movie you twit.
I read an interesting take from someone on IMDB.com about the extreme irony of the film. I cannot remember the exact wording, but he pointed out how Cameron tries to paint a picture of the pureness of nature and it's splendor being corrupted by human technology, yet he used human technology and CGI to create the entire movie, including the "perfect" untouched world of Pandora. I think he hit the nail on the head.
If you watch this you will most likely be blown away by the world of Pandora, despite the fact the rest of the movie is hollow and meaningless. You could really care less for the characters. And if you can get past the politics of it and get over the fact it is basically one big liberal wet dream, you may just like it.