Posted: October 13, 2011 by Micah in Movie Reviews
Tags: ,

Okay so there’s been a lot of Super Hero, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Star… bursts talk on this sight of late and I have decided to put my black Jedi boots down on the surface of the USS Enterprise and talk about something for the people who don’t eat boxes of Sci-fiO’s for breakfast. Namely: Avatar.

Micah Retro Reviews: Avatar

He'll have a blue movie... without you.

I know, I know Avatar was a sci-fi movie but it was a totally different type of Sci-fi. Star Wars and Star Trek are huge brand name series where to fully and really understand what’s going on (according to all the men living in their mother’s basements all across America) you have to read the books, watch the movies, buy the dolls, eat the snacks, play with the lightsabers, and wear the special limited edition fuzzy mittens.

I have no words for this. Except those words... that I have no words... nevermind.

On a mitten related note I have a sliver in the palm of my hand that’s roughly the size of a sycamore tree. So if an inordinate amount of typos happen in this post it’s because the leaves of the tree keep hitting the keyboard, or potentially because Zacheus has climbed down.

And moving on with Avatar. Avatar is a sci-fi movie that’s self-contained, easily accessible, and that most people have seen/heard of. Thus it’s different from all the stars and their various Treks and/or Wars.

The plot:

So, a kajillion years in the future the good people of earth have gotten so phenomenally bored watching old reruns of the Cosby show that they’ve decided to set out from earth and look to other planets so that we can make new versions of the Cosby show starring big blue aliens.

Speaking of big blue aliens, it seems the planet we (the humans) have found most interesting is a planet called Pandora that lets us all listen to our favorite music without actually having to buy it. Wait no. I mean that lets us mine for incredibly rare and valuable mining stuff in mines. Enter former Marine (and current paraplegic) Jake Sully who gets brought to Pandora for some scientific experiment thing when his twin brother, a not paraplegic but dead sort of person, gets killed. Though I suppose if you’re going to get really technical dead people are paraplegics as well. Just ya know… dead.

Anyway the local population of non-human types (the Na’vi) aren’t huge fans of human kind coming onto their planet, digging mines, cutting down trees, and listening to the Dixie Chicks; so in an attempt to better understand them (or something) the marines have started growing their own Na’vi in labs and then transferring the consciousness of a human into the body of Na’vi… cause obviously that won’t weird the Na’vi out or invariably prove that the humans have no respect for them. Jake gets drafted into said brain transplant program and thus begins a wonderful blue themed adventure across Pandora.

A big blue monster named Sully. Wait no. Hang on.

As the movie progresses Jake learns that the Na’vi are actually not so different from humans and that they have hearts of gold and pots of rainbows and that if we all just give peace a chance maybe people would stop gettin’ blowed up. In the end he must decide whether to stay loyal to his own kind, or follow his newfound big blue heart…. aw.

The positives:

Avatar is an absolute visual masterpiece. The effects are incredible, the music is spot on, and the concept of the world of Pandora is perfectly pulled off! It won three Academy Awards in Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual effects and it absolutely and entirely deserved all of them! A beautiful beautiful film that showcased exactly what can be accomplished if you have eight years and four hundred batrillion dollars to work with.

I thought Sam Worthington (Jake) and Zoe Saldana (the Na’vi representative) did a great job in the lead roles of the film. Worthington convincingly played his characters sort of torn loyalty typed thing and Zoe Saldana does great in her role as Pocahontas.

The Negatives:

Okay here we go. This is the part where everyone will start throwing full bottles of blue Gatorade at me. I didn’t think Avatar was a great movie. I thought it was a GOOD movie. And read the section above where I talk about how awesome the movie looked before you hurl the bottle at me. But here’s the thing: The story was completely generic.

Cameron (the director James Cameron) did a great job of hiding this fact under layers and layers of awesome visuals but that’s just the fact. Each and every characters story arc was almost tragically predictable. Sully’s character was obviously going to end up fighting for the Na’vi. Colonel Quaritch the human commander was obviously going to turn into a raving maniac and try and kill everyone. The spunky pilot was obviously going to die. The sympathetic older scientist lady had to give her life for the Na’vi. etc. etc. etc. The Pocahontas joke I made earlier holds a lot more truth then you think it might.

John Smith (Sully) arrives in a new world (Pandora) where he meets the local leader of the colonists who only cares about money (Quaritch) and thinks all the Indians (Na’vi) should be relocated or killed. Then Smith meets Pocahontas (whatever Zoe Saldana’s character was named) who opens his eyes to the beauty of the simplicity in her tribal life.

Wait a second... You wanna know the creepiest part of this whole picture? Pocahontas and Blue Sully have the same lips.

Once again I’m not saying this automatically makes Avatar a bad movie. I liked it. I did not love it though. I felt like Cameron was trying to distract me with pretty lights from the fact that I already knew exactly how the story was going to end.

There was a ton of Oscar hype for Avatar as best picture and I am SO very glad that it didn’t win. Granted the movie that beat it, Hurt Locker, will never be as popular or well-known as Avatar but that’s not what winning best picture at the Academy Awards is all about. Winning the Award is about doing something that changes film, or represents your time well, or does something incredibly new that no one else had done. Hurt Locker (for all of its other flaws) did that, and had a very well put together cast of strong actors led by the excellent Jeremy Renner. Avatar (while a technical marvel) told a fairly bland story with decent acting led by a good actor who spent a large portion of the movie being represented by a CGI teletubbie.

A great example for this is one of the most deserving Academy Award nominees I can think of: No Country for Old Men. It should be noted that No Country very realistically depicts the violence that occurs within it so… yeah. Don’t run out and watch this just cause of what I’m about to say. No Country was brilliantly directed by the Coen Brothers, created a completely individual world and setting, contained two actors who delivered PHENOMINAL performances (Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones) and had that one little extra oddity that pushed it over the edge (the movie literally has no soundtrack. None. Not a single note. And the weird thing is I didn’t notice it the first time I watched the movie. It is THAT engaging).

No Country was an incredible movie with an incredible cast that told an incredible story and was directed by incredible visionaries. Avatar was a good movie, with a decent (if generic script) good acting, and incredible special effects. If it had won the Award all the sudden every film maker would be running out and spending trillions of dollars to make a six dimensional camel walk through a jungle made out of Italian bread and lava lanterns rather than looking for a good story!

In Conclusion:

I liked Avatar. I thought it was good, well-acted, and brilliantly realized visually. The generic script didn’t make me dislike the movie it just made me not terribly engaged or especially interested in what was going on. A good film. But not a great one. You may now commence to send me angry e-mails.

I give it 4 blue Pocahontas’s out of 5.

P.S. In addition to the Sully (Jake) who was big and blue like the Sully from Monsters Inc. Do you remember this Sully? An INDIAN from Dr. Quinn? I smell a conspiracy.

I love the smell of copyright infringement in the morning.

  1. Cassie says:

    . . . . 😉 For all the fans of Dr. Quinn, (of which I am . . . a major one) I have to at least point out, Sully was not an Indian. 😉 At all. 😉 But he did LIKE Indians, and tried to live among them — so at least the comparison holds true there.

    Good review of Avatar as the Blue Pocahontas story. 😉 Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Micah says:

    That’s okay. Whenever I would play Dr. Quinn as a kid my Sister was the Doctor, my older brother was Sully, and I proudly played the role of Sully’s dog. Which wouldn’t have been that bad except we lived in Vermont then and there are few things more horrible then crawling around in the snow on your hands and knees. Soo…. yeah. Not my best memories ever.

  3. Leslie Bowman says:

    My first thought when I saw this movie was, “Hmm, it’s a cross between Pocahantas and GI Joe mixed with CGI animation…” Good to know I’m not the only one 😉
    And I LOVE the Dr. Quinn reference 😉 What was the indian’s name?? The old one that never wore a shirt?? He was Sully’s best friend, wasn’t he? I think my mom had a crush on him…talk about awkward 😛

    Yes, I’m just now getting a chance to read your recent reviews….love ’em!

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