Posted by: reformedmusings | December 27, 2009

Avatar

I bit the bullet yesterday and saw Avatar in 3D. I meant to go last week, but 21″ of snow changed that plan. I should have taken the hint. My main interest rested in the 3D effects.

Avatar in a nutshell: Slick advertising package for feminist Gaia earth-worship and the nutty tree-hugger movement. With a 1/2 billion dollar budget, Avatar should have/could have been much better.

The story has been done ad nauseum: Evil white people and the military ruthlessly exploit noble savages for scarce resources. Of course, the noble savages’ pagan worship provides superior character and wisdom for its adherents. Hollywood seems stuck on that idea whether couched by revising history or encapsulated in 3D scifi. That’s ironic given that rich white people run Hollywood and exploit the unsuspecting for their movie money. Can you spell hypocracy?

When I was leaving the movie, I overheard a group of young people talking about the movie. They accurately observed that Cameron didn’t cast the military in a very favorable light. I’d say that’s a severe understatement. Cameron clearly holds the military and corporate America – i.e., his financial benefactors to the tune of almost 1/2 billion dollars – in great disdain. How’s that for gratitude? Perhaps Cameron should try making movies for the Taliban and see how that goes. Bottom line is that the story line isn’t worth ten cents, much less $15.

The acting? It was OK. Susan Sarandon plays a liberal tree-hugger. Oh, wait…she wasn’t acting. Sam Worthington does a nice job. The rest of the cast seemed pretty formulaic. Outside of the few leads, the character development went entirely lacking. Most of the characters were cardboard-cutout strawmen. Other than Worthington as the lead, women dominate as the movie’s more noble characters on both sides of the conflict. Big Hollywood surprise there.

Cameron obviously doesn’t know much about the mythology he uses. He called the planet Pandora. In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman, created to bring misery. In the myth, Pandora opened a jar that held evil and suffering yet closed it to keep hope inside. All this is the opposite of the supposed good for which Avatar’s planet goddess represents. Banshees in Irish mythology are female spirits who were messengers of death. In the movie, they are basically flying horses and it is their riders who are the hunters. What’s the point of using names from mythology if you ignore their historic context?

The 3D effects, though, are excellent. The technicians and artists showed sharp attention to detail. Unlike other 3D movies, when objects are in your face in Avatar they lose focus, just like in real life. That lends an extra level of realism. Like other good 3D efforts, the effects become second-nature as the movie progresses. In other words, they fit the story rather than dominate it.

But, are the effects so good that they will change movies forever? I don’t think so. The 3D was good, but not substantially better than Up, for instance. The 3D was more ambitions in Avatar, though. The combining of live, model, and CGI action was very good, but for something close to a $500,000 production they’d better be. I don’t think that Cameron created anything new, simply that he leveraged serious computing power and talented artists along with an astronomical amount of money to create a visual treat.

I found that the effects are best on the part of the screen you are looking at directly. The periphery tends to be fuzzy through the glasses. That means that the movie is best viewed from about the middle of or further back in an average theater, otherwise you have to move your head around too much.

In the end, the 3D effects are impressive, but not revolutionary. The story is an old hackneyed line that’s been tromped into the ground by Hollywood liberals. Most of the characters come across as wooden stereotypes. Some critics have hyped Avatar as the best movie in 30 years. I can only assume that they’ve been living in a cave for the last 30 years.

Avatar may, however, be the slickest and by far the most expensive advertisement for pagan goddess worship in history. I guess that’s something of an achievement given the 15 years and 1/2 billion dollars that it took to foist it on the public.

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