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Blue Like Me 02.01.2010

Posted by Commodore Mendez in Movie reviews.
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"Nightcrawler, phone home!"

Movie: Battle for Terra, oh, I mean, Avatar (2009)
Plot: A paraplegic Earth warrior (Marcus Wright?) is given the chance to walk again by going undercover among unfriendlies in order to get oil, I mean a MacGuffin, but then he decides to betray his species! But we all know the humans will return and squash those pesky ETs next time! Oh, and it’s in 3D.
IMHO: The amazing visuals are obviously the main point, not the release-of-white-guilt plot (“See, we do realize we were bad to the Injuns [or any Other], so it’s okay feel good about ourselves then!”). But while the film’s actions uplift, its contradictions leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Its message would seem anti-military, but, as ever, Cameron loves violence and soldiery. Its message would seem anti-corporate, yet the movie will make millions for a corporation. Its message would seem  anti-technology, yet its existence as a film is completely pro-technology. Its message would seem anti-human, and yet chances are the Na’vi probably won’t be watching this movie. Sci fi has always wagged its fingers at humanity, taking you and I to task for for our congenital greed (see just about every episode of Twilight Zone), but humans have generally been redeemable. But Avatar just makes humans look like assholes (with a very few exceptions), so much so the protagonist would just rather become an Other, even if he’s a mutant one with five fingers. Which is not to say I disagree with any of Cameron’s messages, or that I wouldn’t totally go native in Jake Sully’s place (in fact, I’d go faster than he does — boo, humans!).
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is “life from lifelessness.” Which is to say, the animation is pretty damned good — it better be for the money spent.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, he would’ve played the voice of Galvatron. Or maybe there would’ve been a “Why you pointy-eared, blue-skinned . . .” joke.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Why, Starfleet would’ve sent the Captain to negotiate a treaty with the natives, just as he did with the Halkans. Oh, what an adventure that was.”

If humans ever do meet technologically inferior blue aliens who have something we want, it won't be pretty.

SPOILER: Despite the movie’s pro-environmental message, the audience continues to litter as it walks out of the theater anyway.
I give this movie: 3 Nomads out of 5 (though I’m tempted to subtract another point for the use of Papyrus in the Na’vi translations)

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Comments»

1. Yeoman Nacelle Envy - 05.01.2010

All I can offer about Avatar is I spent the three hours with a huge boyish grin on my face the entire freakin’ time. And, honestly, if I WAS say 13 years old again, when it was over I would have run right back to the massive line to see the thing all over again right away. As it is, my spouse and I floated out of the theater still grinning, trembling a little and mumbling to each other under our breath things like: “THAT’s what movie making is about! Showing me something I’ve never seen before. Taking me to another world.”

But sadly we were surrounded by cranky friends and family all rubbing their stadium-seat sore butts and griping about “corny dialogue” and “wooden acting” and “derivative plot” and “simplistic politics” as we walked to our cars. They reminded me of all the critics (and other “grown ups”) who whined about the very same things when the first Star Wars movie debuted. And, like I wanted to do back then, I again wished I could shake them all and say: “Forget that!! You’ve just witnessed history! You’ve just seen something mindbogglingly, breathtakingly groundbreaking which, like it or not, is literally the next stage in the evolution of the Hollywood film. Quit griping and be a kid about it! Enjoy! It’s sheer inner-13-year-old BLISS! Absolute ice cream! You guys are dissecting and criticizing a perfect quart of Haagen Dazs rocky road instead of just savoring it.”

But I only smiled and nodded as they vented at us. I wasn’t going to try to argue with them. How can you? How can you explain the sheer primal joy of great ice cream to someone who is in the middle of tearing it apart? I didn’t try. It was and is, I truly believe, their loss. My spouse and I were silent but we kept grinning at each other, sharing our secret, almost overwhelming, geeky bliss.

When we finally found a moment of privacy, we vowed to each other to see it in IMAX next time we go….

2. Commodore Mendez - 11.01.2010

Wasn’t it a bit much that everything lit up when they stepped on it, like the planet was made of the same material as the floor in the Billie jean video?

jthannah - 12.01.2010

I was totally flashing on billie jean too…had the song in my head the whole way home from the theatre 🙂


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