Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pandora's Bucks (or my take on the Frankenstein's Monster that is Avatar)

Avatar is now the second highest grossing film of all time. Whoopee. (Please note the sarcasm) As I would recall from the sad spectacle that is the Top Grossing Film of all time (Titanic) - box office grosses are in no way indicative of the quality of a film.

Avatar is a visually lush escape to a world beyond this one but which is destined to suffer the same fate as the one in which we currently live. Pandora is serene and rich in vegetation but thanks to the arrival of the 'white man' this idyllic paradise is certain to be destroyed.

Visually impressive, yes, but as a story this movie really let me down. I won't even get into the obvious borrowing from other source novels and movies as this has been extensively blogged about in the past six weeks.

Instead, I have five distinct issues with Avatar, that trasposes it from being a great film to a mediocre one.

1. Who the f@#k annointed Sam Worthington the next big thing?
With turns in Terminator Salvation and Avatar alreday under his belt. And Clash of the Titans in the Spring - it would appear that Sam has been annointed the Next Action Hero by Hollywood. Unfortunately, his limited emotional range and sub-par acting skills made it very difficult to connect (or even like) the Jake Sully character. Perhaps much of his range was lost in translation (into CGI) but still at the end of the day I still dont get him and I couldnt care less if he lived or died at the end.

2. Did it really have to be so long?
At 162 mins it was probably a reel too long. When I start praying for the end of a movie I know its just too bloody long. A leaner movie would have probably made it easier to digest. (NOTE to James Cameron: keep all the additional footage for the DVD, Special DVD, and for the inevitable Director's Cut that will be released a couple of years later.)

3. Whats with the music?
I swear that at times I had fallen asleep and rolled over on to the remote and switched over to Lion King or something. James Horner's score may just be insulting to the african continent seems it seems to connect the dots between the words exploitable natives and Africa. As simple as the ewoks are even George Lucas seemed to get things PC when he added music to their celebration at the end of Episode Six.

4. Still with the music -
Thanks for sparing us another sappy ballad from Celine Dion, JC. But is a powerballad by Leona Lewis (I see you) necessary for the end credits of this or any other 'action' movie?

5. Why are there just 5 species of animals on Pandora?
I'm no biologist but it would seem to me that a 'new' planet like Pandora would have hundreds of insect and animal types to choose from. Instead it would appear that the CGI team really only had time enough to introduce a handful of them to us. Lots of plants to show for it but really not the kind of biodiversity one would expect.

So that's my take on the second biggest film of all time. As a former fan of James Cameron, Avatar is a disappointment to me. Sadly I would have settled for worse special effects had the story been more original - rather than a Frankenstein of a movie (made up of parts of Dances with Wolves, the New World, Aliens, Titanic, the Abyss, Pocahontas, and the Lion King) with a CGI budget that could probably fund a small nation for a year. I suppose that it would be too much to wish for Fox to not greenlight a sequel to this but I suspect that they will probably milk this until the cows come home. Or at least until such a time that 'Avatar - the Musical' confirms that this movie is all filling no meat.

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