Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Avatar (Or James Cameron's Big Win)

I saw "Avatar" on the weekend. (Yes, I am that disorganised that it has taken me two months longer than everyone else to get to see it. Oddly enough, this exact same situation occurred when "Titanic" was released too.)

Anyway, after watching "Avatar", my Spy-friend and I (oh yes, New Zealand has spies) decided that the entire film was probably the result of a bet, probably between James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. We think it probably went down something like this:

A bar, Hollywood, CA, 1998
JAMES CAMERON and STEVEN SPIELBERG are having a beer. There are many empty glasses around them. Also, conversation is beginning to get a little on the braggart side.

So, I'm pretty much the greatest director ever.

SPIELBERG ejects a lot of his beer, spluttering into his glass.

Bullshit you are. Remember "Schindler's List"? Academy Awards?

CAMERON is not having any of this.

Please, Stevey-Boy - "Titanic"? Highest grossing film EV-VAH, biatch.
Plus, I've got those gold statues too.

Yeah, but you're a commercial sell-out.

But CAMERON hasn't heard him and just rolls on.

That's right. You got nothing.

SPIELBERG just stares at him, steely.

Ok then, jackass. If you're that good, top "Titanic".

Easy. No worries.

But SPIELBERG continues.

But you have to put something really messed up in it.
Like something that NO ONE in Hollywood wants to see.

CAMERON is wary.

Ok, like what?

SPIELBERG leans back, considering.

Like blue aliens. Really big aliens. With tails. Having sex.

CAMERON is nervous but he tries to hide it and sits up straight. He's ready.

You know what? I'm the greatest director ever.
I made the best film ever. But now I will top it.
And the film will have blue alien sex.
I can do it.


And so BAM. That's the story behind "Avatar".

Look, I'm sure most people have seen "Avatar" by now and have made up their own minds about it, so I will try to keep this review short.

I think it's very "Blockbuster" - very epic. I found it entertaining but that the story line was quite conventional and really, it felt like a bit of a first draft (sorry JC, know you worked on it for like 10 years...). All the key elements of an interesting story were there, but they needed to be refined and shaped in order to be more thought-provoking and truly fresh.

Also, I thought it didn't have anywhere near the same amount of emotional depth, nor the nuanced examination of the human condition that Cameron's (best) film "Terminator 2" does. Furthermore, all of the major characters felt anywhere from underdeveloped or just downright cliched and lacking in genuine motivation.

Of course, the whole film looks fantastic. This can't be stressed enough. You're never aware that what you're watching is probably 90% not real - it looks REAL, and REALLY COOL at that. You don't sit there going "that's fake, that's all computer generated..." - I find this is the case with most other action blockbusters...

Also, I should add that I think it's great that millions of people are seeing a film that stresses environmentalism and a gentle approach to looking after the planet, rather than say, a film like "Independence Day" where it's all about being defensive and the killing of aliens is the primary goal.

So that's my little "Avatar" review.

Esther xx


  1. Great review of Avatar. Very thoughtful and fair-minded. Though really, Cameron treats his giant blue alien sex in a very coy and soft focussy sort of way - mindful no doubt, of the child audience his film is really pitched at. And, by the way, does giant blue alien sex all happen through the power socket in their tails or is that just "first base?"


  2. Thanks for your feedback! I agree, the alien sex scene is very "PG rated" - by no means is it explicit. Like you, I've kind of wondered about how the "power socket" fits in - it's another slightly off-centre element Cameron has managed to include...