Friday, January 29, 2010

Angry, Angry, AVATAR!

I hardly have anything to add to the MASSIVE amount of stuff out there about AVATAR (dir. James Cameron, US, 2009, 165 mins.), except to just get stuff off of my chest and out of my head before launching into the antithesis of what Cameron does, with "coverage" of the SF IndieFest, of which I have started the screener ritual.

First of all, under Mr. Cameron's insistence and the unavoidable attraction, I had to see it in IMAX-3D. This does involve a surcharge, the total ticket being $18 a piece through Fandango. (I used my Annual Fandango Bucks from my sister!) I would like to express my disappointment that it is NOT in full IMAX aspect ratio of 4:3, but in 70MM blow up to 1.87:1. For me, the magic of IMAX is filling that top and bottom for the feeling of weightlessness within the frame, which I thought, since we're going to "see mountains that float", this would be perfect! However, in 1.87:1, it is letterboxed, not unlike a television. Harumph. Fine. It is still a big, wide screen and the sound is typically awesome.

Now, going into the film itself, it carries Cameron's typical anger that runs through his oeuvre (i.e. "You're terminated, fucker!"; "Get away from her, you *bitch!*; "You're the one livin' in a fuckin' dream, Silberman! 'Cause I know when it happens! It happens!"; "There *is* no us, you psychopathic bitch!"; and of course the unspoken anger of god in destroying the Titanic for a couple of hours). In AVATAR, everyone is so PISSED OFF about destroying trees and ignoring the spiritual oneness of nature, that our heroes decide they must kill or be killed. Of course, our villains are completely without any redeeming qualities whatsoever, which in some way, dramatically justifies the ever growing anger that the film reaches by its climax.

Perhaps Cameron's universal view of the cycle of life is so inherently violent that it drives the film. However, his plotting belies the spiritual aspects that he gives his aborigines. In other words, if the trees are all part of an enormous, planetary neurological and metaphysical system, in which the energy of the the dead live on, why do we need an army of arrows, guns and bombs to defeat the invaders? Not to mention, that I got tired of listening to everybody yell at each other. Though the animals do eventually join the revolt, there is so much detail and involvement of the surrounding vegetation, I was waiting for an "attack of the Ents" moment. Ah well.

Visually, it has some gorgeous moments. Perhaps not as groundbreakingly original as Cameron is insisting, i.e. Magritte's "Castle in the Pyrenees",
or a great deal of art from the Myst gaming series, particularly "Riven";

as well as the often referenced FERNGULLY.

Of course, there are dozens of examples of the screenplay plagiarizing everything from FERNGULLY to DANCES WITH WOLVES to Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" as well as news about a Russian novel from the 1960's. However, science fiction/fantasy can be exceptionally derivative, as Joseph Campbell's work, THE POWER OF MYTH, thoroughly explores. Anyway...

I guess the best that could be said, is that Cameron has used a great deal of existing influences, fed them into some supercomputers, to create them out of microchips, as opposed to pen, ink, wood and plaster. Ah well...

I feel better now.


Maxxxxx says
re AVATAR: "Sweet, sweet eye juice."

You can contact Maxxxxx or myself here: JayCBird@AOL.COM

1 comment:

Romanticherr said...

Best Movie i have ever seen in my life, thanks for the post...