January 01, 2010

Come on and Jade Me

So: Avatar

Pretty good. The 3-D effect and animation worked really well, so well in fact that I stopped noticing that anything special was going on after the first twenty minutes or so. If nothing else, then, I have learned something valuable about myself, which is that twenty minutes is how long something takes to "jade" me. I know that's kind of sad. On the other hand, the film's mall head shop color scheme is something you'd think I'd have become desensitized to long, long ago, but no: I noticed that all the way through, so maybe there's hope after all.

Anyways, the comparison to Dances with Wolves that everybody makes is apt, though I have to say I was able to make it through this one all the way to the end, which I can't say for DwW. (It was a near thing, though. I came close to dozing off a couple of times; the glasses woke me up.)

So it's a bit DwW, a smidgeon Eragon, a tad Pocahontas with Lion King overtones, a jot Braveheart, and a whole lot The Word for World is Forest, but it is a little weaker than the last two because those in the aggrieved population are so relentlessly one-dimensional, pure, good, noble, sweet and quaint and victim-y. Surely there could have been some bad guys in there somewhere, some collaborators, exploiters, opportunists, that type of thing? The final battle is well-orchestrated and inventive and among the best of its kind I've ever seen, so far as it goes, but all the spills and chills might have meant more if it ever felt like something was at stake. In the event, it's more like a formality that must be observed, a set of motions that must be gone through; despite all the skillfully-engineered action bursting out of the screen, it feels inert. This is a movie where all questions are rhetorical, all conclusions are thoroughly forgone, and no ambivalence is allowed to get in the way of the Important Message about global warming or whatever.

Well, it takes a singular vision to create a film that makes a person yearn for the subtlety and nuance of Braveheart. With all the good will in the world, it would be fair to say it's kind of a dumb movie. I understand why some people also characterize it as a "bad" movie, but I can't say that because I did have a pretty good time watching it. Ignore the Important Message (which, like the 3-D, became nearly invisible for me after it had hit me over the head a few times) and it's a pretty good ride. Dumb stuff can be fun, of course, and it's nice that someone steps up to spend a gazillion dollars to test that rule every now and again.

Posted by Dr. Frank at January 1, 2010 08:27 PM | TrackBack

Why you gotta knock Braveheart, man?

Posted by: Rory underpants at January 1, 2010 09:20 PM

I'm not knocking Braveheart, Rory. It's one of my favorite movies, now more than ever maybe.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at January 1, 2010 09:32 PM

I really liked Avatar. I think me having never watched Dances With Wolves probably enhanced my liking of it over those who have seen DwW.

I was a bit wishy-washy on Sherlock Holmes though. Downey was great but other than the name of a few characters and the period, it had little to do with Sherlock Holmes. It was more of an action movie than a mystery. Yes, there was a mystery to solve, but it was paper thin and ignored for the most part in order to focus on the action.

Posted by: Zaphod at January 2, 2010 03:56 PM

What I learned from Avatar is that I am mean-spirited. I heard it was super expensive and then instantly began hoping that it would completely bomb. I wonder what is wrong with me.

Posted by: Saul at January 3, 2010 12:49 AM

Like Titanic; I get why people like it. I guess I just have a stronger adverse reaction to "dumb" and/or a weaker positive reaction too "neat-o".

Posted by: josh at January 5, 2010 05:09 PM