Sunday, February 28, 2010

Anti-anti-anti-Avatar blog post

My anti-Avatar post:

Someone else's anti-anti-Avatar post:

My anti-anti-anti-Avatar post:

First of all, let's get some stuff out of the way. I'm not an Arts student. I didn't vote for the Greens. I have never read James Joyce. I shop at Target and Supre. I loved Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day is honestly one of my favourite movies of all time (I wanted to marry Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was eight). I enjoy my mainstream pop culture (I own more The Simpsons than Bart can poke with a stick). I eat McDonald's. I actually enjoyed watching giant alien robots kick the shit out of each other in Transformers.

So no, I'm not really the kind of tree-hugging, philosophy graduate type of girl that Marz is talking about (but they are lovely people). And in fact, the type of person I am should have nothing to do with how crap Avatar was.

But I do still think that calling Avatar "brilliant" or "epic" is a serious misuse of the English language. I personally think that brilliant equates to intelligent, epiphanic and mind-blowing. I would call American History X brilliant. I do not call "Space Marines fighting blue cat-people on a far away planet" brilliant. And in movie terms, epic means a massively impressive, heroic tale, like Luc Besson's Leon or Gladiator. Neither needed giant alien races, dragons or a $500 million budget to do the trick. Just good acting, amazing storylines, sharp action scenes and a perfect soundtracks.

In Marz's blog, he reckons that to expect anything more than just explosions from an awesome sci-fi movie is ridiculous. Well, Mister Marz, you may want to go down to your local video store and check out the following sci-fi films that manage to have great storylines AND fantastic graphics, explosions, giant people and other things that may float your boat.

  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Perhaps one of the most visually beautiful yet insightful films made in the last ten years.
  • Blade Runner
  • Minority Report
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Gattaca
  • I, Robot
  • War of the Worlds
  • Pitch Black
  • The Matrix, which is similar to Avatar as it was also a high-budget, Hollywood blockbuster with moments of dubious Keanu Reeves acting, but had an amazing storyline to back up the action scenes.
  • The Fifth Element
  • Other Cameron movies like The Abyss, Aliens or Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Side note: Just so you know, I actually know Marz and he's a decent guy. This isn't ripping on him. I love a lot of things other people hate, and hate lots of things that other people love. Like Avatar. And shit.


tsh said...

OK, I'm fairly even-handed with the movies I'll watch. I literally went from "Synechdoche, New York" to "Twilight" within 45min of each other (in all fairness, i had to watch Twilight after losing a bet). I tick all the boxes for film snob, lit snob and music snob.
And i really rather enjoyed Avatar.
It's big, it's not especially smart, it's pretty as all hell and it's thankfully beaten out the goddamn Twilight sequel as highest grossing film worldwide.
It's like this:
James Cameron, having already made the highest grossing film of all time (Titanic) and all the accolades and awards etc that came with it, wanted to push technology and finally had the pull to do it.
He spent half a billion dollars and ten years working the tech up to the point where it was usable in a film, and it came time to apply it.
OPTION 1: use said tech in an arty film that nobody would see and the 'public' would hate, lose out a shittonne of money and have the technology buried for another decade until some other filmmaker wanted to use it for a project akin to Avatar.
OPTION 2: apply tech to an enormous blockbuster with a storyline accessible by any idiot on the planet regardless of whether they've seen it before (kids won't make "dances with wolves" connections, nor will 80% of the population), get it SEEN, get it PRAISED for the SPECTACLE it produces, and then allow the technology to fall into wider use, demonstrating its ability to please crowds and thus get picked up by other filmmakers who can apply it to more intellectual projects without fear of retribution.
"Avatar" is a filmmaking tool, which is reshaping media technology whether you thought it was hackeneyed or not. sad but true.

Anonymous said...


Apply the technology to a decent blockbuster that has a GOOD storyline. And hire some good actors.

Thats what casting agents and screen playwrights are for.