Dee’s Bookcase: Avatar

Posted: October 12, 2012 by Dee in Bookcase, Dee, General Media, Movies
Tags: , , , , , ,

In this movie, Dancing With Wolves … I mean Last of the Mohicans, I mean Pocahontas, I mean … what am I watching again? Oh right, Avatar. James Cameron had the highest grossing movie of all time, Titanic, and he’s well known for going big and winning big. So when he spent a long time designing this film, the anticipation level was high. The first few previews were mindblowing, we were promised the best visual experience we would find for years, and that’s exactly what we got. This beautiful and lush planet is the kind of place you can’t help but gape at, and the giant noble Na’vi are fascinating to watch. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is called to the planet of Pandora to stand in for his dead twin brother. Only his genetic code can work for a Na’vi avatar that was built for him, but Jake isn’t a scientist, he’s a former marine who is paralyzed from the waist down. He meets the brilliant and no-nonsense leader of the science group Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), and he joins them on their expeditions. Jake gets lost after running from a wild creature and he is saved from death by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). She tells him to get lost, but he apparently gets chosen by the forest spirit in the form of little jellyfish and she takes him to their home. He is accepted into the tribe for the time being, and secretly agrees to spy on them for Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). There are a bunch of mercenaries there planning on mining the planet for unobtanium, a precious metal, and I seriously can’t believe that is the real name they went with.

Anyway blah blah he gets accepted, he falls in love with Neytiri, he becomes one with them, they figure out he’s a lying liar, he tries to save them when the army comes to attack, the evil ignorant humans destroy the beautiful perfect nature, and eventually he saves the day and becomes a real part of the tribe. Yay. So a ten year old probably could’ve written this one, but it’s a common theme and full of stereotypical tropes. On the other hand … who really cared? No one watched for the plot. It destroyed all box office records and annihilated the competition.

First Impression

Oh come on everyone knows this movie. It’s the top grossing movie of all time. It was Cameron’s triumphant return and man did he kick some serious box office ass. Was it about the story and amazing acting? LOL NO. It was gorgeous. This movie was stunning, no one had ever seen anything like it before. The motion capture acting, the 3-D world of Pandora, the sheer magnitude of what the people behind this movie must have done to get it where it was. The Lord of the Rings series prepared everyone for something magnificent, and this movie just took it up to 10. So it was completely about the beauty and spectacle. I came out dazed and not necessarily satisfied, but amazed for sure.

Current Impression

I still think it’s gorgeous. I admire every bit of work that went into the design of Avatar. But with time comes reason, and with reason comes the ‘this movie is stupid’ aspect. Because this movie is stupid. Maybe that’s harsh. It’s just we’ve seen it a dozen times. I can’t even get into a critical outlook of Avatar because we’ve said it a dozen times now. It’s like every movie done about the Native Americas or cliche references to any white man culture trying to destroy nature (but one white man can save it!). There’s tons of essays online about it, go looking. So yes, watching it as an actual movie, I want to facepalm. But as a visual masterpiece? Hell yeah it gets credit for that. It’s beautiful. I love watching it. Just with the sound off.

Favorite Character

Grace Augustine, this shouldn’t even be a surprise. Sigourney Weaver, let me love you in everything. I have such a woman crush on her. She’s amazing. I’ve seen movies solely because she’s in it. Grace is smart and tough and sarcastic and she’s the one who deserved to be a Na’vi damnit. I was genuinely sad at her death. You’ll always be a Na’vi in my head canon, Grace. I’m sorry the stupid grunt came into your lab and spit over everything you were doing and got what you worked for without doing anything. You deserved better.

Favorite Quote

“Just relax and let your mind go blank. That shouldn’t be too hard for you.” – Grace, and basically what the audience should know. Because that’s what we do to enjoy. Relax, watch, and don’t think too much!

Favorite Scene

Yeah I’m going to be lame and say the scene when they start flying. I’ve already admitted that I love the way this movie looks no matter what, so screw it, I’ll be completely shallow and say I love the flying. It was beautiful and completely ridiculous looking and yet familiar at the same time. I’m not sure I would say that I felt like I was flying too, because it was so strange, but it immersed me for sure. I loved the designs of the dragons, although I still find it creepy as hell that they put their hair-thing into the dragon and basically mind control them. Or bond with them? I feel like it’s questionable. And it’s the same way he apparently has sex with Neytiri later? I don’t know, stop thinking Dee, stop thinking.

What Doesn’t Work

The critics have torn this movie apart and with good reason. The plot is cliche, somewhat boring, and kind of insulting to other cultures (Native America, let’s face it). If you want to lose a few days go to TvTropes.org and enjoy the page Avatar. That says more than I could, but I agree with everything that’s been said about Avatar. Man is it dull once you’ve seen it. The dialogue is flat, the acting is meeeeeh (outside of the Na’vi actors because holy shit amazing motion capture), and it’s melodramatic. If this movie wasn’t set on that gorgeous Pandora world with the CGI that made it special, it would’ve probably made no money. Because watch Dancing With Wolves on DVD, same dif. So basically everything about the movie outside of the special effects is ‘ehhhhhh okay.’

Why I Own This

I have it on Blu-ray. It’s visually gorgeous. I don’t need any other reason, do I? Plus it’s already nostalgic and it’s only been a few years.

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