Avatar: Dances with Aliens

Movies and Television

Yup, as spoilers go my title is huge. But that’s your plot, and where Avatar falls short of the hype (which I avoided like Ebola on plague-flavored toast), but more on that later. The fancy schmancy tech stuff is what delivers.

© 2009 | Avatar | 20th Century Fox

Technically Avatar is stunning and fab and hype-worthy. Normally a gimmick, the 3-D of Avatar does not take away from the movie, but adds to it in the right ways. Yes the movie would look good normal, but takes on more in 3-D.Part of that can be seen in how James Cameron spent a couple hundred million dollars.

A lot of things were done practically: building real sets, real models and so on so that the CGI can be layered on top of the real, on top of the CGI and so on. Gives everything a textural reality that worked, created a real-looking fantasy world and made the movie very pretty to watch.

NOTE: despite the pretty, Avatar is too much of a war and action movie for the kids. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Just hand over your money, enjoy the pricey CGI and 3-D with my blessing.

Avatar is Dances with Wolves meets Aliens, with heavy lifts from The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and so many more. While Cameron was riffing himself, pulling characters from Aliens and The Abyss, we know these people already.

  • Sigourney Weaver is Ellen Ripley + Dian Fossey and a little Isak Dinesen.
  • Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) is the new Michael Biehn.
  • Giovanni Ribisi is Carter Burke (Paul Riser) in Aliens, money grubbing corporate goon.
  • Michelle Rodriguez (Lost) is BEHOLD a LADY pilot, who’s badass even though she has girly parts.
  • Stephen Lang as the Big Bad is a caricature of a “jar-head, gun-toting, hating everything that’s not him, right-wing” douchenozzle, he may as well be an SNL parody.
  • The rest of the cast like Zoe Saldana (Star Trek), CCH Pounder and so on do a good job providing vocal talent to their blue characters.

There was not a scene or “event” I did not see coming, no gun that appeared in Act I that did not go off in Act V, no McGuffins; everything was straight up, in your face. At times, I had to wait an extra cut or two for what I expected to happen to happen but .. well, that says it.

Avatar was fabulous looking yet entertainingly predictable, formula, derivative. Been there, seen that. If I wasn’t being wowed by the effects and cool looking alterna-world, I’d have been more bored.

The Final Snark: Someone needs to buy James Cameron a pony and an ice cream so we can hang out with Al Gore and all love the Earth and maybe buy everyone a Coke and a smile and all just get along!

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