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. 😉
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…
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’Amélie 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.