Discussion in 'Community' started by Clonuscant, Jan 8, 2007.
Most species are not good at giving up things they require, I'd assume.
I'm really not sure what to think about this film. The visuals are incredible. The plot is archaic. I was visually stimulated, but not once held in suspense or surprised by what was happening on screen. Everything was absolutely predictable. Visual artists aren't the only ones who work on a film. What happened to the script? The movie's gorgeous, but... what else is there? Certainly not an interesting story.
Almost every review I've read has said something to the effect of "the film's AMAZING, but the plot is nothing special." Statements like that worry me. Good films aren't measured by eye candy.
I'd really like to loooove this film, but all the hype is starting to alienate me.
I find the plot gripping, the characters wholly engaging. The story is an old one, certainly, with comparisons to The Last Samurai, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Pocahontas being inevitable, since those films share the same story kernel and thematic underpinning. That said, Avatar is a unique exploration and presentation of that old story, with the avatar "gimmick" and the fascinating world of Pandora applying a new spin on the archetypal tale.
As to suspense, for me that lies in the wonder of how an arc will play out. We all know Jake is going to win his dragon-mount or whatever it's called, and fly off successfully into the wind after forming a bond with it. But it's the way the scene develops that's so fascinating to watch: the climb up to the eyrie, the reveal of the nest around the corner of the cliff, the assurance that his elective beast will try to kill him, the walk through the mass of dragon-things wondering which one will be his, etc.
There are only so many ways the story can go here, and the one that's most satisfying for the audience emotionally, and the most visually thrilling, is the one Cameron chooses every time. You might call this predictable, or criticize it for a lack of suspense, but for me the suspense is in watching it unfold; the excitement is in observing Cameron's choices in the execution of it.
When you get right down to it, to compare apples to apples here, Star Wars is pretty predictable too. Of course Luke is going to blow up the Death Star. Is there anything in the film up to that point that hints he might not? Still the sequence is thrilling, though we've watched it a thousand times. Same principle here. The broad strokes of the story are familiar, the outcome of each plot point subject to guesswork; the execution, meanwhile, is utterly original and spectacular on a level never before achieved in cinema.
This review means more to me than all the other professional reviews. Why? Because it is from a peer on two levels age and a fan of Star Wars. I have not seen it yet because I have to drive a distance to see it in IMAX 3D, and the shows are selling out. But I will see this movie next week.
It is clear that this movie MUST be seen on the big screen before you can justify any criticism of it.
It did not open that huge but I predict huge legs as word of mouth spreads. And multiple viewings perhaps in the different formats.
Thus the Unobtainium I LOLed every time they said that.
Just came back from seeing it. The story line in nothing new as many have said before, but the presentation was outstanding. Pandora was an amazing and it's beauty just left me in awe and tears.
It's aptly named though- especially considering how there are similar and far more sillier metals named in the real world.
$20 million per kilo. I think that's what platinum is worth.
EDIT: OOPS. Platinum is like $20 million per half a ton.
After that point, I thought it dragged on a little bit with a few too many endings. There were literally a couple shots where credits could've come immediately after and I would have been very happy.
Heh, I felt the opposite, I thought the middle parts dragged, especially the whole romance part.
One thing about the early reviews is I think those early reviewers that complained about bad Iraq War metaphors are a bunch of hogwash. There are some rcent terms and phrases used, but people suggesting Cameron was equating the Na'vi with Iraqi or Afghan natives are really stretching things beyond credibility given that the Na'vi have so many overt Native American characteristics and context. He just used the modern terms to apply to the past situation in a sci-fi setting.
Hogwash??? We have the villain sprouting phrases such as "pre-emptive strike" and "fight terror with terror" and hell, even "shock and awe" was used by one character. All of these are associated with Eye-rack and Eff-gun-neestan rather than 'Nam or Native Americans, IMO. Honestly, it's very hard to be even less subtle unless the war was named Operation Pandora Freedom.
Reminds me of "Superman Returns" and the obvious Christ-symbolisms used, they might as well have Superman scream "Jor-el, why have thou forsaken me!!!"
Still, full credit to the FX people who gave us a wonderful visual feast that more than makes up for Cameron's mediocre script. He needs to get help if he wants to do a better sequel.
Yes, the story is essentially Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully in space.
Let's not forget Dune.
I found it to be more [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_for_the_Dead]Speaker for the Dead[/link] meets Ferngully meets Dune meets Starship Troopers (original book version).
I didn't find the plot all that bad. Yes, it seemed familiar and easy to predict, but that is because it took alot of classic sci-fi story elements and mixed them together.
For kids unfamiliar with these original works, this movie can serve as a great introduction to many classic sci-fi themes/elements/memes.
List of movies or creative properties so far being claimed as models for Avatar's plot, ideas and/or characters (usually accompanied by the criticism that Avatar is therefore unoriginal and derivative):
a. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
b. The Last Samurai
d. Dances with Wolves
h. World of Warcraft
My first comment is that that's pretty good company. With the exception of Ferngully, those are some fine films or properties to be compared to/accused of stealing from. At least Cameron is borrowing from the best!
Second I want to inquire why none of these movies has ever been criticized for being derived from any of the others; when Last Samurai was released, for example, no one complained it was just Dune all over again. Atlantis: The Lost Empire was not critically lambasted for being a re-tread of Pocahontas. Yet somehow Avatar is deemed guilty of being unoriginal because it draws from works a, b, c, d, e, f, g, and h.
Yet on closer analysis, a isn't really like b at all; and b isn't like c and so forth. And Avatar isn't really like any of them.
Last, if so many people are seeing so many wildly disparate sources in Avatar, I find it more likely that Cameron has struck upon a very all-encompassing, archetypal, pan-cultural story here, that resonates in different viewer's minds in different ways, calling forth memories and associations that are not necessarily directly derived from those sources.
In short, accusing a movie as imaginative as Avatar of being a cross between Ferngully and Dances does a disservice to all three films, and is demonstrably baloney at all events.
I'm waiting for Surprisium.
when Last Samurai was released, for example, no one complained it was just Dune all over again.
I don't know where you were exiled to at the time, but I definitely read a lot of reviews comparing 'The Last Samurai' to 'Dances with Wolves'. No comparisons with Dune though since it's kinda a different genre, not many get the connection. So that movie was never really labelled as "original".
And Avatar isn't really like any of them.
I agree that Avatar is not like ALL of the movies/works you cited (heh, World of Warcraft ), but it does resemble Dune in so many ways (I keep waiting for the corporate exec to shout "The minerals must flow!") that I'm still waiting for the Herbert estate to sue. However, as I mentioned, Lucas did nothing to Eragon, so... *shrug* 'Sides, those who sold out to the abomination known as Kevin J Anderson are not qualified to throw the first stone, mwahahaha!
Even the air vehicle thingy looked like a damn good design for Herbert's ornithopter IMO. Ah, the possibilities of a Dune movie with designs by WETA....
Deny all you want, but a foreigner becoming a messianic leader and leading natives of an important resource-rich planet against invading military and capitalist power while falling in love with native gal (who is daughter of the chief) and learning how to ride native animal... how could anyone deny the connection with Dune?
Don't make me do a comparison list
PS: Weaver would have made an awesome Lady Jessica
EDIT: I never realised so many people watched 'Fern Gully', I mean its not famous at all here in Malaysia, my sisters and I are among the handful who have ever watched it. It's not a bad kids movie IMO and the villain was kinda cool (villains are always the best part of kiddie movies, the hero/heroine are usually bland).
I'll concede that comparisons were made between these two films -- and rightly so. The similarities between Last Samurai and Dances with Wolves are intriguing, in part since Samurai is based on [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Samurai]real[/link][link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satsuma_Rebellion] historical events[/link] and [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Brunet]personages.[/link]
These were streamlined and simplified by the film-makers to present the material in a style similar to the entirely fictional [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dances_with_Wolves]Dances with Wolves[/link]. The fact remains that extremely similar events did occur and extremely similar persons did exist prior to their being fictionalized in a popular series of Hollywood films of the 1990s.
The story of Pocahontas presents another set of similar circumstances, in both the [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocahontas]actual events [/link], in the [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocahontas_%281995_film%29]Disney film[/link] and its [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocahontas_II:_Journey_to_a_New_World]sequel[/link], and in the [link=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402399/]Terence Malick film[/link].
My point being, Avatar is a sci-fi exploration of a known and documented human phenomenon/behavior: namely, a military grab for land opposed by an indigenous population, which opposition is in turn aided by a member of the invading force who "goes native". That there are other works, fictional or historical, which also explore this idea does not, for me, undermine the achievement of any one of them. Dances with Wolves is not taken down a notch by being a loose Americanization of the Satsuma Rebellion and Jules Brunet.
Okay, but Dune did not originate in a vaccum. Its ideas spring from studied and documented facets of the human military/political struggle, just as do those of Avatar. Herbert's space saga is also very archetypal. You can't sue an author for fictionalizing the same historical event you fictionalized in your sci-fi epic, or for interpreting the same character archetypes.
I don't mean to "deny" any connection, I simply can't criticize Avatar for being a new version of a very old story.
They should just name the minerals as "melange" and the natives as "Fremen".
That's what I was thinking. Everyone kept saying Dances With Wolves, but it's more Dune than anything.
Indeed. Star Wars fans who are not aware of ol Franky Herbert...sigh.
My review: http://jeditrilobite.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/youre-not-in-kansas-anymore-youre-on-pandora/
[link=http://www.pcworld.com/article/185187/avatar_good_news_for_3d_tv_and_bluray.html]Avatar: Good News for 3D TV and Blu-ray?
So you can skip the Blu Ray players cuz there will be 3D players? Do I need to see Caddyshack in 3D?
I was much more emotionally invested in movies like "The Last Samurai" and "Dances with Wolves", which this movie's plot obviously strikes a strong resemblance to. Had the characters been much more fleshed out, "Avatar" really could have been great. As it stands, it's a cool Imax 3-D experience, visually, experiencing this new world. But early on, it was clear that, no, not going to beat Titanic's box office, which it could have if it was better. I enjoyed it, I'll see it again in Imax-3-D, but I couldn't help but think, "Am I going to really even want to watch watch this on television, or even want the DVD?".
They're already thinking of porn 3-D, aren't they?
The term pre-emptive strike is hardly most associated with the recent wars and has been used in scifi and entertainment long before they were a twinkle in Bush and Osama's eyes.
Shock and awe is more associated from current use, but it's not a term that originated as (or has remained) exclusive to those wars and is unlikely to go away in the future. People will be using that term to similar things long after the current wars have concluded.
That point (of Cameron just using lasting terms from multiple war eras), I think, is further supported by the film as they use the term "daisy cutters" shortly after, a term originating and best known for their use in 'Nam.
The only one that felt potentially referential was the terror-with-terror line, but I think that's just a failing of our POV's proximity. Babylon 5 used almost the same terminology years before Bush was even in office, so again it's not something new to sci-fi or exclusive to a post-9/11 world. And, in this case, is relevant to the propaganda techniques the Colonel was using on the mercenaries.
I'd say the Blackwater angle is the most referential one- buit even that feels more like a combination of facets in Aliens than anything else.
The2ndQuest, if you break those phrases/elements and isolate them, of course you can claim "Oh, so and so originated from different eras". However, look at the totality of it, look at its combined usage. Even the 'Nam references merely reinforce my point, after all the current war in "AfPak" keeps being compared to 'Nam, no?
Similarly, those who try to isolate the story/character elements can then claim "Oh, but Cameron is merely taking something in common with other stories". Only when one look at its totality will one see a virtual 'cut-and-paste' copy of Dune. Same thing with Eragon and Star Wars (especially when one considers the sunset scene in the movie adaptation!).
Maybe it's because others credit Cameron with "originality" whereas I am a cynical son of a gun who remembers that he has been accused before of taking ideas. As it is, Twilight with its 'sparkling vampires' is probably more 'original' than Avatar. That said, I'd rather watch Avatar than any Twilight movie, however I cannot agree with the claims of "originality", despite Avatar not being an adaptation of novel/comics/toy.
*shrug* All said and done, I only hope that WETA's good work is fully credited regardless of the mediocre script and the "not-good-enough" box office. Still, with world-wide gross, they should be able to make a profit...right?
EDIT: Can we agree at least that Avatar should get the Best FX Oscar, hmmm? I can't stand the thought of Transformers 2 getting the award.
First of all, let me just say that Quattrich is no Boromir.
Second, I don't think that you can ignore the Dances with Wolves comparison, because the Native American element is so damn strong and prominent. The Na'vi chanting and imagery was overtly Native American, and the Trail of Tears homage was very prominent.
Of course, I know next to nothing about Herbert's Dune. But I do know Ewoks, and those were some mighty fine 3-D Ewoks.
I'm definitely going to have to see this again, as my brain was racing the whole time, thinking of all of the movies that this movie could inspire, as well as the many, many blatant homages that are hard to ignore. I also couldn't ignore just how fabulous it will be to have 3-D versions of all six Star Wars, as well as Lord of the Rings.
I think there are 2 nods to Alien/Weaver. The lead of the humans, the golfer, is named Parker like the engineer in Alien. And at the end "This is Jake Sully, signing off," like Ripley.
There's more than that. A lot of the Marine dialogue from Lang and Rodriguexz could have come right out of Aliens.
Weaver's whole character might as well have walked out of Aliens. Her entrance via waking up from cryo was nice for us Aliens fanboys. Plus, she did a Ripley-worthy job of ripping the military and corporate thugs a new a-hole.
Plus, Ribisi's character was basically a snootier Burke from Aliens. As he exited the movie, I wanted to say "you sir, are no Paul Reiser!"
Did you read the article? Blu-Ray Players will play 3D movies. They just need the appropriate software. So, if you have a PS3, no problem, the software can update.