Review - Avatar (2009)
Was I watching the same movie everybody else was watching? I couldn't possibly have been watching the same Avatar as everybody else. People are raving about this, calling it "revolutionary" and "a milestone in filmmaking." All I saw was an unoriginal, uninspired borefest of a glitchy sci-fi "epic."
Alright, plot, as if this movie actually had a plot worth mentioning. You've got this moon called Pandora (yeah, real original) and it's inhabited by a bunch of creatures that have wires sticking out of their heads so they can connect with other creatures. Makes perfect sense, right? Well a bunch of evil, nasty humans come along to spoil the party, infiltrating the natives with spirit vessels they call "avatars" so that they can get this rare, elusive mineral called, and no, I am absolutely not making this up, "unobtainium." Yes, they actually called it that and expected us to take it seriously. Anyway, that's the basic plot of the film.
The "revolutionary" part of this film everybody is praising is the CGI, and I can't comprehend it. There isn't a single moment in this film where I at any time believe a computer generated creature on screen actually exists, even in the world being portrayed. Maybe if they had just animated the whole thing I would have been able to fall for it, but the mixing in of live-action actors made all the CG look terrible. They couldn't even get machines right. There are mech suits in this film that move with the most illogical and unnatural movements. Earlier this year, the film District 9 had a very similar mech suit that was far more believable, and that film was made for at least ten times less money. In fact, the creatures in District 9 were also far more believable than anything portrayed on screen in this film.
But let's talk about the story for a second. Let's talk about how every aspect of the script, from the actual story to the cheesy dialogue, is stolen from other sources. Director James Cameron even admitted to having been "inspired" by many other sources, and it's not like he hid the fact in the film itself. The story is in essence (and by that I mean "entirely ripped from") that of Pocahontas, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Dune, Dances with Wolves, and about ten dozen other films I can think of, all of which are terrible films to steal your story from and all of which did it better than Avatar does it. The worst of it is that Cameron wasn't just looking for a story to use for this world he'd created, no, he specifically wanted to tell this story. He wanted to tell this hateful, racist story about how evil corporations and evil military personnel (all of whom are particularly white, by the way) are trying to destroy a non-white group of "savages" (yeah, they used the word in the film). It's not even a colonial metaphor because they specifically state that the only reason they are at the planet is for the (ugh) unobtainium, and even that vague subplot seems to sort of vanish by the third act. In the end the film literally just becomes a story about this speciesist who wants nothing more than to kill off an entire race of creatures just because they sort of inconvenienced him.
There is not a single character in this film to which it is worth attaching an iota of emotion. Both of the main characters are bland and they really brush over them falling in love, and none of the supporting protagonists have anything interesting to say or do throughout the entire film. There are two main villains of the film and while the general is the most interesting character in the film, he doesn't have half enough personality for himself and the useless conglomerate figure combined. They try to play up the general as this ultimate badass, but all he does is come off as a very generic, rarely threatening force who can be taken down by spears and rocks.
Speaking of rocks, there are these floating mountains in the film. It's never explained how they float, even though they spend an awful lot of time around them and talking about them. They just sort of float there without any explanation and we're just supposed to accept it. I can accept these creatures polluting the screen constantly, even if none of them are very inspired (I'm still trying to figure out the string jellyfish though). I cannot accept giant floating masses of rock that have no sustainable way of staying in the air. What's more is that they somehow have waterfalls without any source from which the water could come. It just doesn't make sense.
I hated this movie. I hated every single aspect about this film. I can name dozens and dozens of films that take each and every faction of this film and do them better and earlier, some even earlier this year. For a movie that had been in development for so long and had so much money pumped into it, it's a wonder why they couldn't get better effects, better actors, or at the very least a better script. I can sort of see why people might be enjoying this film, but as for me, the only time I will ever watch this again is when the inevitable Rifftrax is released. If anything the film is ripe for the riffing.
FINAL VERDICT: HATED IT, 0/5
Come to think of it, why did they even call it "Avatar?" It would have made a lot more sense to call the film "Pandora," after the moon on which the story is based.