So this is the first review session of my blog, since i do watch lots of films and games and today I have to get something off my chest. Please enjoy
Review of Avatar – ***
Now I really like Avatar, I even have the two disk DVD and blu-ray version sitting by my DVD cabinet in my bedroom, but I am only going to give it about 3 stars. I know that seems like I’m praising with one hand but smacking it with the other but there is a reason and if you let me guide you through this short review you will see why.
So to get the good out of the way first, of which there is a lot. Avatar is spectacularly pretty, even the parts that aren’t CGI animated have a wonderful of dark griminess representation the world that humanity not only lives in but brings with them. We can see very early on the films put its cards on the table with phrases like “for the paper in his wallet” and “used to be fighting for honour” when referring to soldiers. Jack Sulley is clearly a man looking for change, not an environmentalist but nor is he content with how the world works and his brother’s death pushes him even further away from humanity.
The other great piece of storytelling is how the human world begins to feel weird and unnatural with ourselves eating from silver packages and living in tiny boxes versus the beautiful and vibrant world of the Na’vi. This is also a world that initially is incredibly violent but once you get to know it shows Jack almost never being attacked by anything native again. I would almost say this is an homage to Harry Harrison’s Deathworld but it might just be James Cameron making the point of the world reacting by himself (although later on you may be less convinced).
To continue even more with the praise the final battle at the end, that is not a spoiler in a fantasy adventure film, is one of the best pieces of cinematography I have ever seen. It dwarfs the grey battles of lord of the rings and makes the one field battleground of Narnia look like a playground dispute. Particular applause should go to the scene “death of heroes” for the superb soundtrack and motion capture (where they put beads on faces to get the expression right) acting that puts you there with the despair Jack and Neytiri are feeling.
Now long term readers of my blog will now I have a discontentment with anti imperialism postmodernisn art attacking the “evil corporations” and “destroying the innocent few” all for profit and gain. Avatar however does it so well I forgive it, the company man starts to see that signing a piece of paper and actually witnessing the act are so different he is broken afterwards while the inherent violence of the military breaks through once its leash is gone and the feeling of retribution is allowed. It works with real background for the characters and motive that spreads before Jack even entered the fray. Pandora feels real, like it is populated with people trying to live and survive.
However after all the praise I can only give it 3 stars, and the reason is plagiarism. Avatar is about as original as milk no sugar in your tea. Many people may not know this but Avatar is almost point by point a film called Forest of Ferngully. This was a true pioneer of its time decrying the forestation of the Amazon and showing the susceptibility of man to the power of greed. Does any of this sound familiar 1. Ignorant but good hearted human working for the company meets native after getting lost and in brought into their society, 2. Does not understand their ways and is resistant at first, 3. Finally begins to see what is going on, understands the rhythms of the forest and how everything is being affected. Ok so far I’m being vague, let me get a little more specific, 4. They are attacked and suffer great calamity involving the death of a strong and powerful female character while praying to a great tree and the main male character is given a piece of wisdom at shows everything he has been taught is true as the woman is brought into the forest by the tree while everyone else prays. 5. the man is found to have initially helped the human deforestation and is banished but then wins back their trust and they use the power of the forest to fight back. I will stop here as you may think I have just written down the main plot points of avatar, I could have done this when I was in primary school after seeing Ferngully. The film is criminally unimaginative taking nothing new spare a weak connection to the Native americans and new anti corporate message to resonate during the recession.
A film cannot possibly be a masterpiece if it is taking every single scene or point from another film and giving it a HD gloss. If you do not believe me, call in sick rent or download forest of ferngully and avatar, then watch them in that order. You would not believe how similar they are; the worse part is that James Cameron puts no dedication to the film anywhere in his credits. It breaks my heart that such a good film is doing something so wrong but you cannot call a film the photo of bob as a redressing of the Portrait of Dorian Gray. And I just quickly checked online, James Cameron never acknowledged forest of Ferngully (I must confess I do not believe he is that original.)
I promise my next review will be nicer when I do the next Tomb Raider game on Saturday but this has been on my chest for a while.