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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Avatar - 2009

I usually like to share my passion for the filmmaking art by reviewing films that I like, or at the very least enjoyed. But I suppose that every once in awhile I have to put in a negative review, so I chose James Cameron's Avatar. I mean, if I am going to write a negative review, it might as well be one with an unpopular opinion right? I really don't see a point in writing a review for a film like The Last Airbender, or Vampires Suck, because everyone already knows what I am going to say. The movie sucked, 0/10. Now, enough rambling, and on with the review!

Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is taking the place of his brother, who recently died in a robbery, and accepting a mission to go onto the dangerous, but beautiful world of Pandora. Sully is in a wheel chair for life, but Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), a man that is against the Na'vi race as a whole, promises Sully his legs back if he completes a mission for him. However, a surprise comes to Sully when he gets there, as he is embraced by the Na'vi clan, and is beginning to enjoy his life in Pandora. Okay, I am going to stop there for a second before I go into more plot details. To me, this feels a bit like a mixture of Disney's Tarzan and Pocahontas. It is a shame really, Avatar is actually ripping both of those movies off completely, almost in the same way Cars rips Doc Hollywood off word for word. In his review of Avatar, popular critic Richard Roeper says "we're not here for the plot". Oh really? We aren't? Maybe the visuals are stunning, and of course a movie can overcome a bad plot and story, as there are plenty of other aspects to a movie. But to say you are not concerned about the plot, just to watch the awesome and technically brilliant visuals is ridiculous. Yes, Roeper, we are here for the plot, along with the entire movie.

Now, once we get more into the story is where I begin to question why I am even watching such garbage of storytelling. Grace (Sigourney Weaver) is one of the few characters in the story that wants to study the Na'vi race, not hunt them and use them for Earth's advantages. Sully is immediately assigned to go with her to Pandora for the first time, where he will get used to Pandora and become more effective as a spy. But when a dangerous creature attacks Sully, he is left alone for the night to take care of himself. This is where he meets Neytiri, who he begins to have feelings for and will eventually lead him to their clan. Though where the movie goes really wrong in my opinion, is the fact that none of these horribly hideous blue creatures have any clothes on the entire film, and they all mate with their tails. I am speechless, I honestly have nothing else to say on that point.

Before I trash the acting, I need to make it clear that I did not despise the film. In fact, there were a very many great things to it. For one, Avatar is one of the most visually beautiful films I have ever seen. The world of pandora was extremely well constructed, and on an artistic level is undeniably brilliant. As much as I did not enjoy the film as a whole, I can say I loved watching this visually astounding film, that would probably have been worth the 3-D, which cannot be said about many films. Avatar is a grounbreaking visual feast, but without that, taking into consideration all other aspects of the film, it fails. Take away the visuals, and my friends you have yourself a movie worth the rating of 0/10.

James Cameron's direction was not horrible, I will certainly admit to that. I think he is one of the more overrated directors of our time, but I do still have respect for him as a filmmaker, and he sure does know how to draw a crowd. A lot of work goes into his films, as well as this one, even if it is to make the film much too "hollywood" for some viewers, such as myself. The directing by Cameron works in ways, but it cannot hold up to the bland story that copies so many other films, Dances With Wolves being another one that I had not mentioned earlier. Personally, I would say I feel sorry for Cameron because the film's countless flaws were not only his fault, but he spent more money than any other person has on a movie, and made more than anyone else, so I think he's doing alright. Then again, he wrote the screenplay, so maybe it is all his fault.

Well I have already ripped into the story, but there is more to James Cameron's insanely ridiculous screenplay, that quite frankly tears into any film lover that has an ounce of knowledge of this art. I am not going to deny that it took me no less than about five sittings to finish this film, and the writing is one of the reasons why. A bad script is usually something I can get over, but here I felt like my ears were going to bleed. Titanic, in my opinion, is nowadays an underrated film, but the biggest problem was the terrible script. Ah, could it be a pattern? Ladies and gentlemen, I would certainly like to think so.

The acting was like pretty much the rest of the film, awful. The cast did not even have promise, Sigourney Weaver was the only person with the slightest bit of talent. And I even found her annoying, though I have never cared for her much. Sam Worthington was dreadful, I could not ask for a worse person to play the lead part. Maybe Taylor Lautner? No, Lautner isn't that bad. Worthington was not passionate, believable, likeable, or even enjoyable. He did not carry the film at all the way that a lead should, he only sunk the film as low as it could go, and then a tad lower. When I saw that Stephen Lang was playing the Colonel I almost turned the film off right in that moment. If I made a top 10 worst actor lists, he would be on it, and that's all I will say about his performance. Zoe Saldana puts on one of the most painfully annoying performances I have ever seen. She gets on my nerves more than any other actress, other than of course Kim Darby. Now as this review is turning into a rant, I will make my conclusion.

I don't need to go over anymore elements of this film, if you disagree, leave a comment, all opinions are welcome. Avatar is not one of the worst movies ever made, but boy is it one of the most overrated. I suppose though, that it is just the way of Hollywood. Spend money and advertise and people will watch your movie. It is shameful, yes, but we might as well all get used to it.

Rating: 4/10


  1. Brent - The Silver screnJuly 21, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    An unpopular opinion?? And yet wasn't I alone in not liking the lastest Harry Potter movie? It isn't so strange to dis-like something the masses do is it?!
    The way you feel about Avatar is how I feel about Deathly Hallows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Over rated and a money grab ( 'shameful' ) by splitting the last novel in two...what's so different from your arguments about Avatar??! It is what we choose to accept when it suits us personally at the end of the day isn't it?!
    I personally didn't see anything remarkable with Avatar and it was totally over rated in 3-d. Different but nothing special.

  2. Outstanding review man!
    Agree agree agree..James Cameron is overrated as hell!
    Great call!

  3. james cameron spent so much time making this movie almost like 10 years and i guess i was expecting more from it as well, the story was very predictable and cliche and so was titanic in my opinion but yea u have to give credit for visual excellence and i agree it wasnt as great as it was made out to be. but i have to say that terminator 2 judgement day was a great movie from cameron

  4. I have to admit Brent, you make a very strong and convincing argument, I almost agree with you. And not it isn't strange, just unpopular :P

    I don't necessarily consider either film a money grab, unless yo consider any adaptation a money grab. As a whole the only thing comparable between Avatar and Deathly Hallows are the visuals. The rest of the film (acting, screenplay, direction, etc.) would be hard to even argue Avatar onto Deathly Hallows level.

    But see, you say we accept certain things when it suits us personally, but that is kind of exactly what watching movies is about. Most everything is personal opinion, such as preference of stories. Obviously you hated that the two Potter films were split in two, and think it messed everything with the cliff hanger. I, for one, was not bothered by it. It all is personal opinion, that is why we have these blogs in the first place.

    But you are right, there are no differences in our arguments, we each did not like a universally acclaimed film. No shame in that :)

  5. I agree. Avatar was okay at best.

  6. Lol Avatar is very overrated and dude i do nothing but rave over your score. You can tell what can Cameron ripped off (Princess Mononoke).

    But overall Nice review it was groundbreaking but too me the 3D was poor and then again 3D has never worked for me.
    You should see Piranhas 2 Cameron had ideas where giant flying killer fish are eating people...That's creative xD

  7. Thanks Aditya! Glad you agree, this does seem to be one of the most hated critically acclaimed films though.

  8. I have only seen the later sequels of Terminator, so I cannot comment on that. I just don't really care for Cameron as a filmmaker, he isn't my style, I suppose. Thanks for reading!

  9. Thanks for reading, glad you agree.

  10. True, I did not even think of that one.

    It usually does not work for me either, there are only a few cases where I can actually enjoy the movie with it. Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of them lol.

    oh my gosh... haha Thanks Jesse!

  11. James Cameron seems to have a knack for making divisive movies. I haven't seen this one yet but I would still like to. great review!

  12. Thanks Rachel, give it a go, you will probably like it more than I did.

  13. Agree, it is pretty overrated but I was a bit leniant, probably due to the fantastic visuals. Makes me wonder how could it take Cameron ten years to write the script/ someone in high school could do the same in a week ;)

  14. I know, i'm sure I could do as good of a job. To me, his scripts usually aren't very great, but this one is far worse than his others.

  15. TheScarletSp1derJuly 26, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    I like the one thing that really makes it stand out from Fern Gully, Pocohantas, and The Last Samurai......The Soundtrack! =my favorite part of the movie!

    haha, agree completely with your summation! Nice job.

  16. I honestly did not even notice the soundtrack lol.

    Thanks Scarlet!

  17. The script was not the reason for the long development time. It was the special effects. Cameron had a very specific vision in mind for this movie. The technology and budget he demanded was not readily available until eight years after the idea was first pitched.

    Matt, I respect your opinion and it's not as minority as you'd think. But I must admit to being a little puzzled by some of your reasons. The lack of clothes on the Navis was bothersome? I think the idea behind that was to model their appearance off of real Native American tribes while the character archetypes were inspired from their primitive technology and strong spirituality related to the planet.

    I watched Richard Roeper's review and didn't hear him say anything like "we're not here for the plot". He did however compare this movie to Star Wars which I think is the right idea. Neither Avatar nor Star Wars had very original plots but they were presented in a fresh way. The themes of prejudice and culturally unacceptable love have certainly been explored many times before. But the characters, setting and visual style help it stand out among the predecessors. Avatar's screenplay is very predictable, but I'd argue that the basic outline still works as far as how it can tug the emotional strings. The movie had always been intended to be primarily a visual experience with a story existing mainly just to provide a backdrop. Some wanted more than that so they expressed disappointment. I'm assuming that's why you didn't like it either? Correct me if I'm mistaken.

    I understand why Avatar is not to everyone's taste. But in my scorebook which is calculated by what I believe Cameron wanted to accomplish, he knocked it out of the park.

  18. Great comment Ian, opinion respected. You clearly looked at the film differently from the beginning than I did, which is probably why you enjoyed it more. And you're right, I did want more than that. I suppose it all comes down to personal taste, and it did not fit mine.

    Star Wars is another film that I do not absolutely love, I like it much more than Avatar, but it is overrated in my opinion. Again, it just isn't my taste, though a fine film.

    Also, the Roeper quote came from Rotten Tomatoes, check there and that is where I got it lol.

  19. i dont write negative reviews, it's too easy but if i did it would be for this film. i hated this movie. like fully have nothing good to say about it. if cameron never makes another movie it will be too soon. his alien was the worst of the franchise too.

    welcome to the lamb btw

  20. Avatar was enjoyable to watch in 3D for the visual(my first 3D film) I tried watching later on TV and it was a letdown. Part of the problem with the storytelling is you can guess the ending after 30 or so minutes, which is a pity. So I guess you're not gonna see Avatar 2 then, ha ha ? I said that about the star wars prequels, but ended up going anyway for 2 and 3. I disagree about Titanic's script, which I found charming.

  21. Agreed, I hate to write negative reviews. And unfortunately I have never seen any of the aliens


  22. Yeah, that is what I have heard. I actually will, just because I am not going to like it lol.

    I did not hate the TItanic script, there were definitely good parts, just flaws I think. Thanks for reading!

  23. I completely agree, Matt. I also gave this film a negative review, mainly out of a sense of duty because everyone seemed to have drank the James Cameron Kool Aid. The acting was atrocious, caricature-like, and not only did Cameron rip off other films, he ripped off of his own! Nearly all of his films (bar, maybe Piranha Two: The Spawning) feature the exact same plot elements: a regular guy/person/small group, at the mercy of a large malevolent entity (read: government, corporation, etc), is pitted against an extreme obstacle, usually in a remote location, only to discover that the strength of a just and noble cause will always prevail no matter how long it takes. And if Cameron can cram in some kind of mecha-contraption battle (just like Aliens and The Abyss), then it's lights out. It was a repeat of Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2 and Titanic, but without any of the enjoyable elements of the aforementioned.

    My review:

  24. Nice work, completely agree with you, especially about him ripping off his other films. Thanks for reading!