[FoRK] A comment on Avatar

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Wed Dec 23 23:06:50 PST 2009


There's several readings of the "unobtainium" joke.

Its not beyond credulity that the ore has a completely unappealing
scientific name, with most people calling it unobtainium, as an in-joke
amongst the characters themselves.

Still, instead of 1 part dances with wolves, 1 part pocahontas, and 1 part
ewoks, I would have liked to see 1 part syriana, and 1 part "buried my heart
on wounded knee" thrown in there.

I would have liked to see Jake Sully become, instead of a leader, an
outsider and advisor - something like Matt Damon's character in Syriana.
Would more than a fraction of the audience have been able to follow the
story if, as in Syriana, there wasn't a lead character? Probably not.

As for the planet-brain, well, we can go down the road of Solaris, maybe
Greg Egan's "Wang's Carpets", all kinds of ways it can go. I just cant help
but think that of all the ways it could go, Cameron will pick the least
interesting path.

Over at Military.com there's an article on how it makes the military look
bad. And it does, but for different reasons than they describe. You would
kind of expect an airborne attack on natives to look more
like Apocalypse Now than the tactic- and strategy-free lining up of your
gunships like Napoleonic soldiers.

For all the richness of the visuals, and the thought put into conjuring up
this world, the movie was unbelievably shallow. Other's have commented on
the familiar plotline of one of us joining them and becoming the greatest
among them. Maybe you just cant sell a movie about them to us without that
plot device. There was one movie where it was done nicely, Anthony Banderas
in the 13th Warrior - an outcast Muslim noble joins a Viking trading band
and returns to Scandinavia with them. What was interesting about that movie
was the trajectory where the Vikings came to respect the Muslim for his
talents and he for theirs.

Maybe I am just getting old, and movies just dont do it for me as much as
they used to, but I was attracted for science fiction because it was for
thinking and imaginative people. Avatar just doesnt inspire much thought in
me, and not much imagination either. Beyond the visuals,
It doesn't challenge or surprise at all.

With so much money invested in this movie, its almost impossible for the
producers to take risks beyond the technical realm. The storyline has to be
disneyfied, what subversive motives Cameron may have had were hammered into
submission. Or maybe there never were any.

Makes me sick to think what this movie could have been.



On Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 5:04 PM, Bill Humphries <whump at mac.com> wrote:

>
> On Dec 23, 2009, at 7:53 PM, Simon Wistow wrote:
>
> > That said, I'm not necessarily arguing that inside jokes belong in
> > movies, especially when they have a potential to come across as just
> > plain dumb. See, sort of, the use of "Sabotage" in the last Star Trek.
>
> When I heard The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" in the trailer for Star Trek, I
> was happy because:
>
> 1. It signaled Abrams wasn't going to treat Star Trek as a sacred,
> inviolate text
> 2. It introduced Kirk as a smart, but rebellious kid
> 3. This was the movie shouting "fuck yeah, this is Star Trek!"
>
> -- whump
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