Sunday, January 24, 2010

what this world is coming to or post Avatar thoughts

I just saw Avatar.

I don't get it. The love, the hype, the awards, the billions and billions of dollars spent both creating and seeing it.

Was it beautiful? Yes, the film was lovely to look at. I thought the phosphorescent trees and floating astral jellyfish were stunning. Those scenes reminded me of the Electrical Light Parade I saw in Disney World when I was 12, sitting on the curb at Main Street, watching the shimmering floats go by as the sky turned to the deepest shades of blue. Looking back, experiencing that glow, that glimmer, that magic was far more impressive in real life.

Did it get a message across? Sure. I get that nature and spirit and energy need to be respected and that big business, corporate greed and war mongers stomp all over them. But The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss told that story much more powerfully. And in much less time I might add.

Did it need to be THAT violent? Sadly, yes. These days a movie isn't a MOVIE unless there's so much blowing up, carnage and destruction, your head is throbbing by the closing credits.

Did it pull from other classic (and not so classic) stories? Of course. There are no true original ideas out there but during one of the many we're-about-to-be-destroyed scenes, I kept waiting for Violet from The Incredibles, to thrown down a kick-ass force field.

Was I the only one who felt like the final battle between Jake and the psycho Marine was a replay of Ironman and Kurt Russell?

Was anyone else waiting for them to mention The Force?

I never made it through Aliens (too much of a coward), but I felt like Sigourney Weaver much have been having a super scifi flashback. If not to that, then at least to Galaxy Quest. Her shirt-tearing as she was ripped from her incubator was quite reminiscent of Gwen's shredded catsuit.

The main character who's agot nothing to live for so he just jumps into everything with a sly grin and boundless bravery? I could swear that the new James Kirk played that remarkably well in the Star Trek remake.

The glowing tendrils reminded me of ET. Or Cocoon.

The flying reptile/dragon choosing its partner? Eragon anyone?

The giant tree? I think they have one at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Jake lying in the forest floor, unconscious, as the bull dozers moved in? I just saw that clip in the new Michael Jackson film.

I could go on and on. In fact, I was so busy thinking of what this movie reminded me of, I had trouble paying attention to the actual movie. It almost became a game, to see what characters, plot twists, scenes I recognized from somewhere else.

But, back to this movie. I sometimes feel like, as a society, we've become numb to violence, outrage, being shocked, because there is such horror in the real world that we don't need to imagine it. It's all there to see. For real. So filmmakers need to ramp it up even more, to get our attention. And our money.

I don't want violence on steroids. Messages so transparently disguised as a story there's no thinking involved to figure out what's next. Entertainment so saturated with destruction I feel sick to my stomach and slightly slimy just for having watched it.

I eschewed Hollywood blockbusters years ago and found watching Avatar was akin to having fallen off the wagon. Next time I'll know better.


Jeremy said...

I, too, didn't get the hype. Yes, it was entertaining. But mind-blowing and life-changing? No, not really. And did the bad guys have to be *that* one-dimensional?

Comparisons you missed: Dances With Wolves. And The Smurfs.

Ali said...

I loved it, but not the way everyone else seems to. I could have waited for it to come out on Video. I thought it strange the lack of creativity with the storyline... it was the native american story. It was the holocaust. It was recycled historical trauma.

I am always impressed with originality and would have liked to have seen more with Avatar!

Megan said...

Okay. I saw the film today as well, after much resistance due to the main-stream hype. Astonishingly enough, I was very moved by this very main-stream, very expensive mega-movie.

The story of war, greed, and the domination of human beings through bigger, better weapons is nothing new.

The message of sacred connection, that you eloquently refer to in your post, is profound and necessary, especially in light of our policies of the last decade - and for many teens and even children - it may be the first film of its kind that they see that touches them in the way ET, Cocoon, Star Wars or Disney touched you. For thirty-somethings like myself, who have seen ET et al, let's hope these kinds of stories continue to be told, over and over again, in technicolor, to the extent that exaggerated imagination can reflect some truth about the current state of the world we live in.

While I am in no way a proponent of gratuitous, self indulgent violence in movie making, I felt the level of violence in avatar to be in direct proportion to the post 9/11 world we live in, as well as the inhumane policies of George Bush. The disconnect from our spiritual connection and level of care for our planet has never been so perilous.

The movie, of course is a metaphor for many things, and one of the uses of metaphor is hyperbole.

Ultimately, the main reason I liked this movie was for the beautifully vivid message- that the interconnectedness of life, nature, humans, and animals is truly more powerful than guns and bombs.