In my blog in Portuguese I wrote about Gran Torino and Fight Club, and these articles resulted in very angry comments and this one is probably going the same path. I'm thankful my blog is not famous and my profile picture is very mysterious otherwise I would be attacked by an angry mob. But even so I won't remain silent! I really like James Cameron. I loved Titanic. But I was 12 when I watched it and its thousands of flaws were completely invisible to my critical views at the time and now they only make it more charming. Titanic is still the biggest box office success of all time, but Avatar is right behind it. But at one thing we have to agree, its plot has been exhaustively explored in much better ways. I was trying to ellaborate an equation with a friend that could result in Avatar, and we got to the following one: Pocahontas + The Last of The Mohicans + The Last Samurai + Dance With Wolves + Atari + Wii.What did you think?
What is it about? Actually it's just an excuse to show what's the latest technology in special effects for motion pictures. I tried to watch it in 3D but it was sold out for 3 days so I watched the regular version. Well, the story is about terrestrials (all Americans, sorry...) who go to a planet called Pandora in order to explore. The team guided by Sigourney Weaver wants to study the planet but the team guided by Colonel Quaritch has other less peaceful interests.
The intention is good, but the script is weak. Let's face it: no army chief in the Middle East will ever say that their interest there is oil as Giovanni Ribisi said to Sigourney that they only want a stone that costs 20 million a kilo. They would disguise it as “Spread of Democracy” or “War on Terror”. But I also understand that the kind of public that is most appealed to this kind of movie is generally not used to think about serious issues or just care about the visual aspect of the movie, so the message must be completely clear otherwise they wouldn't get it.
The leading man, Australian actor Sam worthington, is a marine who's got an avatar (mixed with his DNA) to explore the planet freely, play with the flying jellyfishes (among other funny games), and he ends up becoming friends with the natives, and Zoe Saldaña has the obligation to teach him to be one of them. So he has this double life, part-time human, part-time Na' vi.
This discovery part is beautiful. I was really expecting to see Pocahontas or Vanessa Williams to come along and sing Colors of the Wind. Everything is so colorful that it wouldn't be any surprise if the wind was colored too. It's funny that in Twilight, the glitter-vampire glows in the sun, but here everything glows in the dark. The plants, the animals, everything. You're running away from a predator? You're screwed! Wanna play hide and seek? Don't even think about it... Suddenly I looked down and my flip flops were glowing too. If I had put them up to the air maybe the public would think they were watching it in 3D.
And just between us, this new technology developed by James Cameron to turn real actors in those blue creatures may be revolutionary, but visually it's not of good taste. It's too much information. Reminded me of those gigantic colores pencil boxes. Except for the plants (which were nothing but palm trees, coconut palms, banana plans, ferns and similar things) the animals didn't look real. I felt like watching a Playstation game. The Ets from Evolution (that movie with Julianne Moore and David Duchovny) seemed more conveincing. Pixas does it better... But this technology will be improved. In time no make up will be needed to transform actors for biographies. Special effects will take care of that. There will be no ugly people either. Anyone will have the chance to be gorgeous and slim. Social acceptance expectations rising...
The characters weren't well developed either. They're all plane, shallow, specially the villain. He's a complete stereotype, from the scars in the head to the complete absence of kindness. And it amazes me that someone who fought in a fictitious war in Venezuela (will it actually happen?) to say something like this: On Earth, these men (marines) were the main strenght from the army. Fighting for freedom. But here they were only mercenaries getting their money. Then I ask: whose freedom?
I could write a book about the planet itself. There are many questionable things there, besides the bad taste. For example, if there is plenty of water why there's no oxigen in the air? Why don't the flying mountains fall? Why do the mosquitos fly in circles? I think the script could be more creative about the planet. That luminous tree (Luxurious! The newest trend for the next holiday season) surpassed my expectations. I thought it was about to walk, like in Lord of The Rings, or to talk, just like Grandmother Willow.
The Na'vis are a different chapter. If I were them I wouldn't turn the Ets into giant smurfs. Everything is very similar to what exhists here on Earth and I believe that if there is life outside here it must be completely different from us and totally disturbing. And maybe more than one rational species as we have here. Sometimes the Na'vis act like Indians, specially their social organization, and their religious culture is similar to the African culture, and Pandora, which is a Greek word, was adopted by them as the name of their planet. There's no way for me to say that it was well developed.
And as a designer I have to criticise that millions were spent and they didn't think about hiring a graphic designer to create an exclusive typeface to use as the subtitles of the Na'vi language. They used Papyrus, that everyone has in their own computer. A shame... At least the movie has good values after all. It's against colonialism, imperialism and militarism. And I didn't sleep during the almost 3 hours of it. This is long enough now and I'm gonna stop. I talked enough.