Avatar (Spoiler Alert!)

Please, if you haven’t seen Avatar yet, do not read this “review”, because it’s not a review, and I do reveal some plot points.

You’ve been warned…

All right, looks like you either saw Avatar already or you’re just too curious to pass this review that is not a review. ūüėČ

The Story

Avatar tells a really simple story. A story that has been told thousands of times. There’s something to be said about simplicity and familiarity. It’s like from the get-go I knew exactly where that movie was going, how that movie was going to end and who was going to win. It’s the story of a race who’s trying to mine the¬†resources¬†of another race’s planet in order to¬†make money. ¬†I really enjoyed that story when I read Battlefield Earth (hate it when I saw the Travolta movie), and I was equally entertained with this retelling.

All the classic characters are represented in this movie: The good guy overcoming impossible odds, the good guy who’s really a bad guy (but the audience knows from the beginning of the movie), the asshole with a heart of gold (who ends up dying), the female romantic interest that turns out to be also an awesome fighter, the love interest arranged mate that hates the hero but ends up best friend, the Chief who dies defending his people, the soldier who “didn’t sign up for that shit”… They’re all there and we can spot them easily.

All the classic tropes are also there: the brother pulled in because of a death, the fish out of water, ¬†the schtick that levels the playing field, the story of this really really one in a billion thing that never happens but happens to the hero anyways, the montage of the hero learning things, the thing that doesn’t work for one character but will work for the hero later on, the sidekick pinned under something but freeing herself just in time to kill the bad guy and save the hero, the Deus Ex Machina saving the day, the obligatory cliffhanger just before the credits.

But honestly I didn’t mind. The thing is that since I didn’t have to be bothered by trying to figure out where the movie was going, I could fully concentrate on…

The Visual

How stunning could any movie get? I mean this was way beyond any other movie I’ve ever seen – ¬†the closest I could compare it to in terms of visuals would be Le Pacte des Loups, where after the first few scenes I knew I was going to buy the DVD just to be able to look at that fight scene again, and Le Fabuleux Destin d’Am√©lie Poulain (in a much more subtle way but if you say the movie you probably get it). In his spoiler-free review, Avitable talks about how at some point the Na’vi raise their arms and he briefly thought that the other movie goers were raising their arms. I completely agree with him. I was pulled in the middle of the action – I saw the 3D version – ¬†even while knowing that all of those GCI characters were not real. I didn’t care that they weren’t real, I was fascinated by their facial expressions, the way they moved, the way they interfaced with animals and plants and so on. Arrow scratches on the cockpit¬†windshield looked so real. It was amazing.¬†I honestly thought nothing would ever pull me out of the movie. And that would’ve been true, if it wasn’t for…

The annoying “Americana” references

Now bear with me here for a minute, because this might be where it looks like I go off the deep end. Rest assured that the following observations are not meant to be disrespectful in any way, but I know this will ruffle some feathers.

To me, the many parallels between Avatar and 9/11 were more than annoying. The “we’ll fight terror with terror”, the shot of Na’vi running away from the falling HomeTree, followed by the slow walking in the soot and dust-covered landscape, the panning shot of the¬†remains¬†of the HomeTree looking¬†suspiciously like the many shots of Ground Zero¬†seen around the world in the weeks following 9/11. All of those made me think that this movie might be some sort of… well I don’t know exactly what the goal would be at this point.

Didn’t the whole “You have this ting that we want, so we’ll take it from you” reeked of the oil war?

And I do realize that I could probably say that about a lot of movies. In fact, pretty much all the movies ever made where the “bad guys” destroy some major landmark could be compared to 9/11 –¬†Independence¬†Day comes to mind – but in this one, it turns out the American are the bad guys, and that adds new level of weirdness. The same applies to any movie where the bad guy is trying to steal natural¬†resources from the hero.

The point is it annoyed me. Like a lot. Enough to pause and take a step back from the movie, while the movie was playing, in order to ask myself if that was some kind of message, some kind of attempt to tame some demons keeping Cameron up at night.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me making those connections. What did you think? Did you see it too?

In any case, this is still one of my favorite movies of the year (at least). This will not prevent me from getting the DVD (Blu-Ray? You think I’ll have a Blu-Ray player before this movie comes out?) when it comes out, and I’ll even might see it again on the big screen.

I give it a solid 9 out of 10 thumbs up.



  1. Well, I did roll my eyes at the “fight terror with terror” comment, but that’s it. Even with reading your comparisons of the downing of the HomeTree and the WTC, I don’t see the connection. The roles are totally different. Same thing with any connection to the oil war. I don’t see it. Hollywood has been doing this kind of thing for years (think Victor Mature bringing down the Temple in “Samson and Delilah” way back in 1949). It’s the spectacle that’s the thing. They do it because it is visually stunning and, in this case, heartbreaking and necessary to the story.
    .-= B.E. Earl´s last blog ..The 100th Avatar Review You’ve Read =-.

  2. i went to the movie to be taken into another place…which means i am completely able to ignore any “message” (every negative comment i’ve heard is saying it was a save the rainforest / tree hugger message). i’m totally able to become engrossed in what is happening, the exact story being told, without looking for symbolism…even able to overlook any symbolism that i am being smacked with. so yeah, i wasn’t bothered a bit by what you were.

    that being said, i don’t believe the tree’s falling and burning felt at all like the events of september 11th.
    .-= hello haha narf´s last blog ..Well Fuck Me =-.

  3. @B.E. Earl: Good point. Maybe I just stuck to the “Terror with Terror” bit, and that made me see all kinds of stuff that wasn’t there…

    @Hello Haha Narf: Funny how I didn’t focus on the rain forest / tree hugger thing. I wonder what that says about me. :mrgreen: See, I can never ignore a message (but I seem to choose the message I want to hear). Thanks for sharing!

  4. @Sybil Law: Good enough for me too! ūüėČ

    @Avitable: It might be one of those Canadian perspective thing. Every American I spoke to didn’t see it. Every Canadian I spoke to saw it. ūüėČ

  5. Hi Mike,

    I did see the movie this afternoon and did not see 9/11 analogy. However I did see the Iraq war inspiration (tons of state of the art arms and technologies that did not won upon arrows and arcs)… Furthermore I think that this film is a direct inspiration of an ols animated filme that my children was watching over and over agin few years ago (1992) : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104254/

    That saying said I was, as you, astonished by the beauty of the CGI effects. Wow ! Just for that it is a great movie, a must seen (even if the story is weaK). This is one of the best movie I saw this year. D9 was definitively the best (I’ll say the best SciFi movie I have seen since Alien. ūüėõ ).

  6. @Pascal W.: Glad you liked the movie! I can’t wait to see it again. And “Best remake of Fern Gully ever!” is the best comment I read about that movie. ūüėČ

  7. I haven’t seen it, though I made one weak attempt after all the praise about the visuals. Interestingly (or not), the single reason I’m not drawn to this movie is that I found the visuals in the previews to be annoying. I’ve had difficulty describing my issue, but there’s something about this type of CGI that just bothers me. Perhaps “surreal” is an apt adjective.

    Ignoring all of that, based on your enjoyment of the visuals, I can’t imagine getting it on DVD instead of Blu-ray. Blu-ray players have gotten pretty inexpensive this holiday season, and will almost certainly be even cheaper by the time Avatar is released for home purchase.
    .-= Ren´s last blog ..Macro Monday #41 =-.

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