James Cameron's Avatar

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by The2ndQuest, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    Oh, great...another "white guilt" Avatar critique.

    The film isn't really about racism so much as it is about colonialism, which obviously has a racial aspect to it, but it isn't like the humans keep Na'vi as servants and what-have-you. If you think that article's riding that horse a bit too hard, you should read Armond White's review in New York Magazine. God, can you imagine how much he would have lost his **** if the Na'vi were black?

    Armond's take on race and racism in movies has no consistent throughline whatsoever. It changes from film to film, retrofitted to match his edgy thesis.
  2. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    It's nothing short of the greatest sci-fil/fantasy film of all time. The rumors are true. It's better than Star Wars.

    On that note, I disagree strongly that the plot is uninteresting or the characters two-dimensional. The storyline does evoke Pocahontas and The Last Samurai, among other films or ideas, but rather than cliched or "old-hat", this one is comes across as an archetypal story of ancient provenance, projected against a highly technological backdrop. It certainly partakes from other tales of history and fiction (and fictionalized history!), but for that matter so do Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Aliens and Dune and Potter and Wheel of Time and Ice and Fire. The great works of sci-fi/fantasy are by their nature derivative, because they're founded on human truths, pan-cultural axioms that invite visitation and reinterpretation. This one is Cameron's, and IMO it is superior to every other film of its kind.

    The maguffin ("unobtanium") and the broad strokes of the plot are a framework for the author to construct what my wife and I found to be a deeply moving character study. The two main characters, Jake and Ney'tiri (sp.?) are the only dramatis personae that require or merit any degree of character development, because they are the strongest and the best, and your heart is with them. Jake and Ney'tiri are, cinematically speaking, fully-rounded, three-dimensional personages, while everyone else is and should be a two-dimensional supporting player. Weaver's scientist (name?) receives some degree of development, as does the Nav'i warrior-prince, but this is as far as the material needs to go: the movie is about J & N. Any time spent with sidekicks or subordinates would make the audience, vis. me, impatient to return to the "real" story of Jake & Ney'tiri.

    In short, the plot is an old one but by no means tired; and the two leads are as three dimensional as their images.
  3. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009
    I hate James Camerons movies. I hate Paul Verhoeven's movies too. His movies are offensive and pointless to watch. I hated Terminater , Titanic, Terminator 2, Robocop, Starship Troopers, Total Recall etc. They all made me feel sick.
  4. -polymath- SFF:F/TV Trivia Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2007
    star 4
    I really liked the movie for the spectacle alone. The plot is serviceable and evoked a sense of Dances with Wolves more than any other movie, imo. Great movie and I look forward to seeing it again.
  5. ezekiel22x Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    This one seems like it's getting the full range of opinions, from "greatest SF/F film of all time" to dumb action movie (one review I read said that it's the type of movie where characters say "let's dance" before a fight scene begins).

    Not sure if I'll see Avatar in a theater, but when I get around to it I have a feeling I'll consider it a decent adventure piece and not much more. I can't possibly imagine a new SF/F film surpassing Blade Runner or Empire Strikes Back.
  6. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009


    Blade Runner was like the worst movie I had ever seen. It did nothing but making me nautious. I hate Ridley Scott films also, they seem stylishly selfish and ineffective for entertainment. I've got my own sci fi ideas of films and I think they surpass those movies.
  7. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Not meaning to be rude, but this has what to do with Avatar, exactly? It sounds like you're just complaining about Sci-Fi movies you don't like without directly tying it to the topic at hand. Just saying.
  8. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009
    I was replying to the previous poster and I quoted him/her about bladerunner which similarly I hated other than a James Cameron film which Avatar is... so it will probably not be good. I liked the commercial for Avatar and it did seem interesting and I actually did like True Lies. I just hope it's not a pointlessly big sci fi movie that makes you overwhelmed with pointless bad feelings which James Cameron's film ideas seem to evoke.
  9. GrinchComeHome Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2003
    star 4
    This party is over!
  10. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    Um...OK.

    But you haven't realized yet that the vast majority of challenging films from serious directors today aren't made by naive 16-year-olds fresh off the bus from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, who think the whole world is Care Bears playing peek-a-boo with puppies in soft focus?
  11. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009

    It seems to me that directors like James Cameron, Ridley Scott and Paul Verhoeven are really making the wrong movies pointlessly. This is what I think they are doing:


    James Cameron: This guy just will make anything Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Avatar. These movies absolutely mean nothing artistically or otherwise. In fact they are bad, big art done wrong is really really bad and has a bad affect on me. And it's not meaningful, it's completey meaningless.

    Ridley Scott: this director has some sort of personal idea about film style that completely over-rides the effect of a movie. I'm just saying what's the point of making a movie when it has no effect. Bladerunner, Gladiator, G.I Jane, Black Hawk Down... these movies have no effect on me. They just seem selfish in so far as to take away the entertainment which just goes against common sense.

    Paul Verhoeven: this guys movies are offensive to watch. It hurts my brain and there's no point for it. Robocop, Total Recall (a guy shot to death and transmutated into a robot, a guys face exploding on Mars). I think this guy is serious about the physics of the World and the whole world destroying itself. Not quite accurate.

    I just do not like these directors.
  12. Obey Wann Former RMFF CR & SW Region RSA

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2000
    star 6
    Great, we get that you don't like anyone.

    Do you have anything constructive to add to the discussion, or are you just trolling for responses? :rolleyes:
  13. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009
    I like most movies actually apart from romantic comedies. I'm just pointing out the bad directors who are considered important. Quentin Tarantino is another guy that I don't get why is so celebrated... His movies are over-rated and I pretty much don't like them. He seems like an aggressive dork, sorry for the language.
  14. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    Are there any good directors whose films you actually like? You've kinda ruled out 90% of the best movies from the past 25 years already ;)
  15. GCX-15 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2009
    I think David Fincher is a pretty good director. All his movies are impressive.
  16. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6

    I went to see the movie a second time with my brother. He had three main criticism, and we had a long debate about it.

    There's a lot of spoiler in my post.


    The first I agree with: it's a White Man's Burden story. The basic lines of the plot follow a recognizable pattern. White man is from a corrupt society that sees no intrinsic value in nature and loves it money. White man joins the tribe, who are a bit standoffish and curt, but all have hearts of gold when you get to know them. White man falls in love with the tribe, and a woman in the tribe. White man has a chance to return to white man society, where his experiences and actions will make him quite successful. White man rejects white society, returns to the natives. And then, because society is determined to defeat the wayward primitives the white man is forced to reluctantly take up the leadership position and lead the primitive but good natives to victory against his corrupt former allies. The parts where all the natives are good, and they need a white man to lead them to victory are both somewhat insulting.

    Whereas that plot really upset my brother, I didn't mind it so much. While I don't like the ethical implications of the story, I can enjoy stories where I disagree with the ethics of the characters, writers and directors, so long as the story is well told and entertaining.

    The second point my brother had is that he felt that the characters showed no growth. That's an area I disagree with him about, sort of. One aspect of the movie is that it doesn't really have an Ebeneezer Scrooge moment where a character goes "Oh, I see, I was wrong. Let me fix my ways." The closest moment to that is where Jake wakes up after spending time romancing his girl and asks himself what the hell he's doing. At that point, he's still somewhat torn in some small way. After that, he knows his place. The other characters remain true to their natures throughout for the most part, with two exceptions. Most movies and shows demonstrate emotional and ethical growth by the characters becoming slightly wiser with better developed ethical systems and self confidence. Avatar shows growth, but in slightly atypical ways.

    Take Grace as an example. Grace doesn't ever really change in perspective. She gets a little less sarcastic with regards to Jake, but she's a mother hen through the movie. And for all that she made fun of Jake early on and complained about having a marine tagging along, she never showed any personal animosity. When Jake broke out of the compound to go running, she caught up with him, smiled and threw him some food. When Jake went missing, Grace had to be told that the search couldn't continue after nightfall and demonstrated concern for him. What does change is how she feels. At the start of the story, Grace is essentially an unsatisfied person. She's been kicked out of the Na'vi tribe, she's not listened to by the humans, she's stressed (hence the smoking?). Towards the end, as the tribe accepts her again and she has hope for the Na'vi, she finds peace. Her death at the Tree of Souls is essentially her best possible end, and she knows it, and she's fine with it. She dies with the Goddess. Her character growth is that of a person going from bitterness to peace. It's not that Grace dies any wiser, so much that her demons are laid to rest.

    The two exceptions I mention Parker and Neytiri. After the destruction of the Home Tree, Parker does show the beginnings of guilt and compassion. He never goes through a Saul or Scrooge transformation, but he does demonstrate an emotional withdrawal from that point onwards, and shows guilt for the rest of the movie. Perhaps he does change when he leaves Pandora. We'll probably never know. I can't see the character as someone who'd say "OK guys, I've had a change of heart, we're going to play nice with the blue monkeys." Too much pride and sense of his place in the company for him to do that. But I can see him wanting to, and I believe I did see him wanting to. Neytiri, for her part, is the only character who tr
  17. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    ...I'd just love to see how GCX would handle The Hurt Locker, is all I'm sayin' here.
  18. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    I saw the film a second time (Dolby Digital 3D...not quite as flawless as IMAX 3D, as occasionally the 3D image will break into it's components depending on how 3D an object is, but still pretty good). Two things I picked up extra foreshadow meaning to were two lines regarding Grace-

    There's the whole Tree of Souls and her line "I'd die to get a sample", and while the first time through you get the "samples" callback as a moment of levity, I find it interesting that she literally had to die to get in there.

    The second is during the shouting match with the Colonel where she goes "What are you going to do, shoot me?" to which he replies "I can do that.". First time through it's just a badass line for the villain, second ime through you realize he literally does shoot her later on.

    Stuff like that I really do appeciate.
  19. Obey Wann Former RMFF CR & SW Region RSA

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2000
    star 6
    So, what is the best way to see this? Go all IMAX 3D? Or is it OK still to see it on a regular screen? I have to travel about an hour to get to a Imax 3D screen and would like to know if it's worth the trip.
  20. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
  21. JediXManSerenaKenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 27, 2007
    star 4
    I just saw it in 3-D. Absolutely mind-blowing, I thought. And yes, the plot was formulaic, but I thought it worked. Probably going to go see it again. :D
  22. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    It definitely is worth the trip, even if it's the more common IMAX-D/"Liemax" screen-size. It's better quality 3D than Dolby Digital 3D (the 3D effects don't break down at certain angles/distances). This isn't like most recent IMAX movie releases where all you're getting is a few scenes in full IMAX- it's the whole movie and Cameron certainly made it with it in mind. the extra screen size and 3D really enhances that immersive quality that makes the film such an experience.
  23. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Definately a movie you watch for the visuals. Amazing blend of cgi and make-up. Few plot holes that could be argued, but I won't waste time on them as I've also got counter-arguments.

    There was a series of books--second one was "Ghost Brigade" that has some similar ideas. Essentially, old folks could sign up to join the military when they reached 70. Their reward was that they would be made young again and allowed to settle on a colony world in exchange for 5 years' service. Their conciousnesses were transfered into genetically altered bodies with all sorts of alien DNA upgrades to make them more capable soldiers able to stand up to some of the aliens. If they survived, they were transfered into new "normal" clone bodies. Very fun sci-fi military series.
  24. Obey Wann Former RMFF CR & SW Region RSA

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2000
    star 6
    Thanks for confirming. It's $36 just for tickets, plus about $20+ in gas to go see it that way. After all the money I spent on Christmas, I had to make sure it would be worth the trip.
  25. ezekiel22x Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    It was pretty much what I was expecting: some well-conceived big battle action scenes that occasionally channeled a sense of awe that I haven't experienced on the big screen since RotK, some very pretty scenery, and a routine plot and script that had several moments of "did they really just say that?" dialogue. The bad guys were a little too over the top for my taste. The main military dude was the kind of cliche I expect out of a SyFy channel movie, while the Ribisi corporate lackey was at best a very poor man's version of Paul Reiser's character from Aliens. The whole 3D thing still seemed more a gimmick than the "next era of film-making," but I only saw it in a regular theater, so perhaps that's why I wasn't quite as impressed as I thought I might be. Still, the fact that I made it through without suffering a migraine was a plus.

    Again, though, the big action scenes held my attention, which is more than I can say about the majority of "event" SF/F films I've seen in the last few years. Avatar is nowhere near the pinnacle of SF/F film-making, but it's a fun adventure. Mix Titanic, Aliens, and Return of the Jedi into a big pot, and you get Avatar.