Avatar wins hands-down as the costliest and most-anticipated movie of 2009 by a long shot; whether it becomes a winner at the Oscars is another question. Mostly due to the all-out publicity that the Fox put behind it, the movie has been hyped beyond proportions. Releasing it close to Christmas without any other strong movies around helps too.
One of the main draws of the movie is being able to watch it in 3D. So far, most movies available in 3D have been cutesy animated movies; Beowulf being a notable exception. Still, the draw of ‘photo-realistic animation’ in Avatar in 3D has been its major selling points. It’s the reason why I decided to go watch it.
….and the movie fails on all counts except for the visual effects department. The quality of CGI is so superb that it feels like all the rendered characters are real. This can be partly attributed to the fact that they used updated motion capture technology to capture the performance of real actors – but that’s been done before by the likes of Robert Zemeckis in Beowulf and Gore Verbinski in Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. No, Avatar isn’t quite like previous attempts. This time James Cameron has succeeded in putting together something truly revolutionary. Especially when you watch it 3D with the new RealD projection systems, it appears as if you are actually in the middle of epic battle scenes.
But the battle scenes are only epic because of the visual effects (and the feeling of actually being there), not because the story is good. The story can be summed up by precisely what’s in the trailer – nothing more, nothing less. That’s how shallow this movie’s story is. Here, you can find out the whole movie’s story right now.
James Cameron merely hopes the eye-popping visual effects are going to distract you from the fact that there isn’t much of a story, and whatever’s left is stolen from previous works such as Dances With The Wolves (this fact was used to parody Avatar in the South Park episode Dances With Smurfs). “We’re not in Kansas any more”? Jeez, do you need to even steal dialogue from other movies now, Cameron? At the core of the story are these jungle cats with boobs on a planet called Pandora (name probably chosen for ‘irony’, referring to Greek mythology) who must be killed to remove them from fields of Unobtanium. Sam Worthington once again takes on the role of a humanoid spy. In order to ‘make a political statement’, James Cameron makes the jungles cats ‘live in harmony with nature’. So they’ve an equivalent of Mother Earth bullshit on their planet – a spirit known as the Eywa. Those pussies control animals – such as horses and dragons – by sticking their own bit into the animal’s bit, jungle cat becoming the master and the animal the slave. Yeah, it actually is as retarded as it sounds.
Avatar is the sort of movie that Michael Bay would have made if got the sort of budget that James Cameron got. Except…it seems that Michael Bay stuck his bit into James Cameron’s bit, and then Cameron became submissive to Bay’s will. No other explanation is forthcoming as to why Cameron keeps such tight shots of Michelle Rodriguez’s boobs / ass – and I might remind you, dear reader, that this movie was shown in 3D.
You know what’s the worst bit about the story? The bloody Ewoks take down human military gunships and helicopters with nothing other than bows and arrows. A more embarrassing or ludicrous ending has never been shown on the big screen since the Ewoks previously took down the Evil Empire in Star Wars. Goddamn you, Ewoks!
Avatar has been hailed for making strong statements about protecting the environment and imperialism. But wait, according to the premise of the movie, this is set far in the future – probably in a time when energy sources are scarce on Earth. A mission of this scale would mean trillions of dollars of investment on Earth, and a lot of humanity’s hope for survival would rest on its success. I think given the context, being wishy-washy about cutting down a few trees on some other planet is the last thing humans should be concerned about.
The kind of motion capture, 3D and animation rendering technology developed for this movie is truly outstanding. Even weak points in motion capture – such as facial expressions, which looked faked in earlier movies that used this technology – have been ironed out in Avatar. Hope for movies in the future that put better use to all this technology.