Review: James Cameron’s Avatar & 2009 In Sci-Fi Movies

This Friday James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar  (featuring Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana), finally hits screens world wide, finishing off a big year for sci-fi movies (including the aforementioned return of Trek). In an extensive review, Jeff Bond takes a look at the much-discussed Avatar and the new state of sci-fi movies.


Avatar and a Great Year for Sci-Fi on Film

By Jeff Bond

NOTE: This review contains spoilers

As James Cameron’s Avatar finally sees the light of day in theaters across the country we seem to be just beginning to see the backlash to the backlash to the backlash for one of the most highly anticipated movies in recent years. The backlash began in July at the San Diego Comic Con, where 15 minutes of footage from the film thrilled some but befuddled and annoyed others, with the naysayers instantly spreading their grumbling all over the internet. Was this what Cameron was crowing about, a $300 million videogame? A remake of Ferngully: The Last Rain Forest? 10 foot Smurfs in the jungle? Jar Jar Binks in blue?

The dangers and limitations of the film were right there on the screen: a plot that even Cameron admitted was Dances With Wolves on another planet; a race of noble primitives designed to play off the collected guilt of industrialized nations; the usual "white guy saves a primitive minority race" story approach, and an obsessively designed world that depended on ones and zeros to make it seem "real." But even in this fraction of footage made available, Cameron’s obvious strengths were also on view: his ability to maintain focus and drama in the most outlandish situations, and that same obsession with detail that in this case has the possibility of bringing the most fully realized alien environment ever put on film to fruition.

Alas, the drumbeat for lynching Cameron was the loudest one from July to now, with various bloggers and websites (chiefly Gawker and to a lesser extent its offspring io9) practically guaranteeing that "Avatar will suck."

Then followed the backlash to the backlash—early reviews that were almost 100% raves screaming that Cameron had pulled it off. Yesterday actually, bravely published a public apology admitting that Avatar was terrific. And now…the backlash to the backlash to the backlash—some tough reviews taking the film to task for its storytelling limitations. Just as with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Avatar will clearly be divisive—an overrated white elephant for those for whom a movie is story, originality and, tellingly, the right kind of politics…and a revelation to anyone who can be pulled through a movie by the power of pure filmmaking.

Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in Avatar

I fall into the latter camp. The 15-minute tease of Avatar last July seemed very satisfyingly immersive to me. We got to see all the film’s chief creatures, but they actually mattered less than the enveloping views of Pandora’s luminescent jungles and the relatable blue faces of the alien Na’vi and "Avatar" Jake Sully. That’s the stuff that left me hungry for more.

At two hours and forty minutes in length, Avatar delivers a full meal. Cameron blends—sometimes uneasily—the tropes of both widescreen epics and his characteristic brand of industrial strength, crowd pleasing action. The first half of the film is quite simply a hypnotic, magical fever dream of stuff you always wanted to see in a big sci fi film, from the brief but satisfying glimpses of a complicated and realistic interstellar spacecraft to the dizzying shuttle dive into the atmosphere of Pandora and the first broad pans across its infinite layers of forest and mountains. Cameron introduces his characters (Sam Worthington as the wheelchair-bound Sully, Sigourney Weaver as tough talking exobiologist Grace Augustine, Stephen Lang as the human base’s hard-as-nails military overseer, Giovanni Ribisi as the symbol of venal capitalism, and Michelle Rodriguez as a helicopter pilot with a heart of gold) efficiently and brilliantly decodes his "Avatar" high concept in a scene in which Sully wakes up inside his 10-foot tall blue Avatar body, staggers out of a medical holding room and burst out onto the grounds of the compound to see other Avatars training in the open air of Pandora.

Cameron quickly gets Sully and the others into the jungle and just as quickly separates him from his team, getting him lost so that he—and we—experience the awe-inspiring jungle flora and fauna alone…until he runs into Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri, a Pocahontas-like, fierce warrior princess that is our first view of the Na’vi. Cameron inundates us with CG imagery from the opening moments of Avatar, but his director’s eye and attention to detail is so keen we barely notice. What’s truly amazing is the way the Avatar Jake and Neytiri characters work—despite design work that really does call to mind Jar Jar, the Dark Crystal Gelflings and all sorts of other unwholesome associations, these beings fully register as characters, working almost better in close-up than long shots. Saldana, great but underused in Star Trek, does awesome work here. She’s an impressive warrior but an involving, soulful presence too, and her give and take with Worthington is terrific.

Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang in Avatar

It’s true that Cameron’s plot ingredients are familiar, and there’s definitely some predictability to the story—once Cameron introduces a story element it’s fairly easy (although not in all cases) to see what the payoff will be. Saldana is so good she overcomes any cultural baggage her character might carry, but other players like C.C.H. Pounder, as the Na’vi tribal sorceress, and Wes Studi as their patriarchal leader, are less fortunate. At times the Na’vi are irritatingly on-the-nose stand-ins for Native Americans, even whooping like something out of a John Ford movie during tribal gatherings. They ride horses (that look like six-legged sea horses) and dragons, and Sully’s journey of discovery as he becomes one of the tribe involves standard rites of passage: learning to use a spear and a bow and arrow, riding a horse, riding a dragon…oh yes, riding a dragon. See, while the basics are familiar, it’s the details that matter. Saying Avatar is just Dances With Wolves in space is like saying Star Wars is The Hidden Fortress in space—it’s true, but ultimately that’s just a small slice of each film’s impact. Following Jake Sully’s Avatar around Pandora, you quickly feel like you’re there, experiencing the sights and sounds of this strange new world and even feeling the strange agility and power of this giant blue body with Sully. The script might read "Jake jumps on a dragon and flies it" but that doesn’t get across the impact of watching Jake and his Na’vi brothers run along miles of highway-like vines hanging thousands of feet in the air and clamber up a chain of floating hillocks to reach the dragons’ aerie, or the thrill of watching Sully’s lithe, savage form rocketing through the air on the back of his "banshee."

I did tune out, oddly, midway through Avatar when Cameron begins the human war on the Na’vi with a titanic-sized massacre pitting squadrons of helicopter gunships against the native populace. It might be that Cameron’s immersive vision and the power of 3D imagery on this level can only grip you by the heart valves for so long. Cameron stages two mammoth battles in the second half of the film, and by a few minutes into the climactic conflagration I did find my pulse getting back into the game. The logistics of action scenes and the plotting of the micro and macro moments of these sequences are in Cameron’s blood. He can even get away with the imagination-beggaring coincidence of bringing his three chief players together for a face to face final showdown in the middle of a battle involving thousands of warriors on each side that seems to cover miles of space both vertically and horizontally. I walked out on Ed Zwick’s The Last Samurai over just this sort of manipulation, but Cameron is such a superior filmmaker that he makes it work.

Battle scene in Avatar

Like the basic plot elements, the science fiction ideas in Avatar aren’t blazingly original. The idea of the Avatars themselves apparently owe a lot to a Poul Anderson science fiction novel, while the Gaia-ish concepts of the Na’vi’s connections to their world, and the multilayered jungle planet conception reminded me a lot of Alan Dean Foster’s seventies sci fi novel Midworld. Cameron dots most of his I’s and crosses his T’s as far as the technical details of his world go, dealing realistically and consistently with the idea of an atmosphere humans can’t breathe and the way the Avatar technology operates. But he leaves some ideas unexplored and unexplained. The human forces are mining something called "unobtanium," a tongue in cheek term also used in The Core. There’s no explanation of what unobtanium does or why humans need it. One of the film’s most spectacular images is the gigantic, floating mountains (seemingly inspired by an old Yes album cover) that hover over the Na’vi’s jungle stronghold, but aside from some vague, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doubletalk about a "vortex" of some kind, there’s no explanation for this phenomenon. It’s not related to the planet’s gravity because rocks and people fall off the floating hills just fine. It would have been nice if Cameron had tied the ideas together—maybe unobtanium is some exotic, gravity-defying ore. That sounds like a good power supply to me. Thankfully, Cameron does take pains to ground the Na’vi’s mysticism in science, and in so doing he comes up with a fairly surprising and emotionally satisfying ending to his film.

Avatar Trailer

You can’t discount Avatar as an important science fiction film. The occasional groaner line of dialogue or plot turn does not, ultimately, put a dent in this film’s impact unless you’re predisposed to reject the movie’s "tree hugger" philosophy (something Cameron cannily makes Jake reference early in the film). The film is a landmark in terms of putting an original, science fiction reality on film in utterly convincing, and often breathtaking terms—and that makes it the perfect punctuation for a year that has really been pretty great for the genre. Every sci fi film released this year has produced its share of arguments, but one thing you can’t argue is that the genre has made a huge comeback from a period in which films set in outer space and dealing seriously with science fiction ideas have been all but absent from movie screens, replaced by endless supplies of costumed superheroes. Zach Snyder’s Watchmen seemed to put the nail in that coffin in more ways than one. It’s a faithful and in many ways superbly done adaptation of the graphic novel, although with its celebrated "squid" finale removed (much to the dismay of Hitler!), it loses a big chunk of its conceptual sci fi mojo. But the realization of Dr. Manhattan alone gives the film at least a deserved cult status. Similarly, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (probably familiar to readers of this site) isn’t one of the strongest entries of the series in terms of its sci fi concepts and execution, particularly when someone can view a basketball-sized Vulcan in the sky from some mysterious planet called Delta Vega. The tired madman-on-the-quest-for-revenge plot was in fact a sideshow to the film’s far more successful reboots of the Star Trek characters and worlds themselves—although the idea of permanently reconfiguring the Trek universe by way of interference in the timeline is a daring—if to some, infuriating—idea.

This summer also saw the much less ballyhooed but in a way equally satisfying Moon with Sam Rockwell—an extremely well made (for a pittance) outer space drama with very intentional echoes of Doug Trumbull’s Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and even Peter Hyams’ Outland, from director Duncan Jones. Equally intelligent and derivative—but far more controversial—was Neil Blomkamp’s terrific District 9. It spins off of things like Alien Nation and Cronenberg’s The Fly while creating a harrowingly up front parable about apartheid, with some of the most convincing, and strangely compelling alien creatures ever put on film and one of the most unusual tragic heroes since Brazil’s Sam Lowry. District 9’s documentary filming style drove some viewers crazy (or made them come down with motion sickness) but the technique serves the film beautifully and the crazy brutality of the movie’s climactic action is white-knuckle gripping. Even the Ben Foster dogPandorum, for the most part a complete train wreck that barely survived a tiny one weekend release, is an ambitious outer space thriller about the fate of the crew of a multi-generation colonization starship, a classic SF concept if ever I’ve seen one. And if you wanted to check your brain at the door, there was 2012—a brazen remake of When Worlds Collide that is probably no dopier than the classic George Pal production was. It made a good pile of money as did Star Trek, District 9 and even Moon on its own independent movie terms. And Avatar is pretty much guaranteed to earn enough worldwide to justify its $300 million budget, and maybe even justify the sequels Cameron has talked about. Hopefully studios will take the right lessons from these films, ensuring that strong characters and daring science fiction concepts become an integral part of future sci fi productions. 2009 ought to be remembered as a banner year for the genre and will hopefully be the launch point for a true revival of science fiction in film.

Star Trek, Moon, District 9, & Avatar – part of a great year for sci-fi movies


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Still a bit skeptical about it because of all the hype, but I’m expecting it to be good nonetheless.

I’m not real sure about whether Avatar is any good. Seems like a movie that tries to win you over with flashy special effects because there isn’t much of a storyline underneath it.

Looking forward to this. As for unobtanium, I wonder wonder what they would call it if it was discovered to be quite obtainable? Fool’s unobtanium perhaps?

Sean & others, presumably,

Cameron repeats until he is blue in the face that this movie is just a “pilot episode” and he expects to make 20 more now that all the hard work of bringing a MMO to the big screen has been done.

SO: if you want more story, wait until chapter two. Which is a catch 22 since chapter 2 wont be made unless this film makes a quintillion dollars.

I’ll wait until I can rent it for $1 from Red Box

Saw it last night in 3D in Limerick..

For Shame James Cameron.

For Shame.

Truly awful.

I’ll wait and rent it sometime – next year or so.

I for one am looking forward to seeing it! I heard one of Cameron’s next projects is a remake of Fantastic Voyage. Sure wish he hadn’t dropped out of The Planet of the Apes remake sweepstakes years back. A decision which in turn made us suffer though that god awful Tim Burton film.

“when someone can view a basketball-sized Vulcan in the sky from some mysterious planet called Delta Vega”

NO S#%T!!

It was a good film. Dances with Wolves on another planet was what i said to my brother as the credits rolled. Turns out i’m not alone in that summation.

It was a bit of a green message but it was fantasy and for the most part it came off as story telling more than preaching.

The real let down came well into the film where for 40 seconds Cameron may as well have stopped the movie, came on camera and yelled “hey you, yeah you, just in case you don’t get it yet these bad guys are a metaphor for George Bush and his f$%$&ing excuse for doing the same thing to Iraq”.

It took me right out of the film at that moment. Regardless of ones politics it was very poor form.

Overall i definitely enjoyed the movie but as i would any good movie. Unlike Titanic which left an emotional resonance days after watching it.

Zoe Saldana was of course amazing.

My stance on this, pre-seeing-it, is pretty much the same as my stance on Trek09 was, pre-seeing it: I hope it’s good. I hope it doesn’t suck.

The trailers don’t thrill me, but nor do they turn me away. The pedigree has me respectfully curious (T2, Aliens and Titanic, oh my), but then again I also remember The Abyss (which was okay, but utterly unworthy of the earthshaking megahype it had at the time).

So I got nothin’ yet. Nothin’ but hopes, and those kept from being overly high, just in case.

Hope it’s good. Guess we’ll see.

“Thankfully, Cameron does take pains to ground the Na’vi’s mysticism in science, and in so doing he comes up with a fairly surprising and emotionally satisfying ending to his film.”

Does that mean he does the Dune thing, or something other, I wonder?

This tidbit has me more interested than all the videogame trailers combined :)

@11 i’ve never read those books but my brother felt that there were some very strong elements pulled from Dune.

#12: Given what they’re showing us in the trailer, I wouldn’t be surprised. On the other hand, this review says it _is_ surprising (well, “fairly” surprising), which probably means if they do a Dune thing, it’s not the Dune thing they’re telegraphing in the trailers, but some other Dune thing :)

#5: I might’ve been in the same theater.

I, and what seemed like the rest of the audience, disagree. You can tell by the way we applauded at the end.

Saw it last night. Thought it was GOOD, perfectly enjoyable film, but wasn’t blown away by it. Just felt I’d seen it all before with the story. Even in 3D (which I found a bit flikery, out of focus at times and like wearing sunglasses indoors…though it was my first experience with the format) still made the alien characters appear like “only” really good CGI and not photorealistic. Not quite there yet.

I certainly enjoyed it all the way through, but Cameron has produced some of my very very favourite films (T1, T2, Aliens, True Lies) and I was kinda hoping Avatar would join them. A bit over-hyped in all regards really.

I’d love to see this new filming FX technology applied to a screen adaptation of John Varley’s “Titan” book trilogy. Hell, I’d be thrilled just to know that some other readers here know which books I’m referencing!

#14 – Definitely different cinemas, I was at 8.45 in storm…

Nobody was applauding it!!

The only thought that came to most peoples mind was: “What has been seen, cannot be unseen”

I am serious when I say what I’m about to say…Indiana Jones 4 was better…and I think Indy 4 was the worst thing man has ever created….

Looks visually impressive but I’ll wait to watch it on Blu next year and I hope to be as entertained as the hype makes it out to be. But as far as I’m concerned my two fave sci-fi films this year still remain Trek and District 9.

2009 will definitely go down as an awesome year for Sci Fi, STAR TREK of course is clearly at the top of the list for all of us Trekkies! :)

Loved District 9 as well and can’t wait to see Avatar!

Wow. Opinions all across the spectrum, from “fantastic”, to “piece of ca-ca”.
I’ve stopped listening to critics ever since Star Wars (a real dog-of-a-movie is what the critics said, back then).

What previews I’ve seen are thrilling & fantastic. I’ve got to see the movie( I bet it’ll be more than once also).

I’m not PC with the green themes though(sci & tech, & intense development is the ONLY THING that’s going to save our hairy monkey butts on planet earth IMHO).

Still; I bet AVATAR is going to be STAR WARS BIG!

I love how like-minded people always end up in the same theater auditorium.

Reviewer 1: “I hated it, and so did everyone who was in my theater. Ten people walked out in disgust!”

Reviewer 2: “I loved it, and so did everyone who was in my theater. There was a standing ovation at the end!”

Ahh, the humors of the internets.

@21 Watchmen saw similar reviews as well.

As for this flick? The trailer ruined it for me from the get go. J-Cam should have hired the editors of the Trek trailers, as not only were they very well done from an editing sense but they also were good in that they effectively teased you and hinted at things without giving anything away.

After watching the first couple of trailers for this film I pretty much had the plot spelled out for me. And from my perspective, why pay to see it then?

I will probably see Avatar for the full 3D IMAX headache-inducing experience, but not because I’m interested. I’m not. It’s the same crap done over and over, but with flashier CGI and more colors. Big f-ing whoop.

BUT I also said the same things about The Matrix when it came out, so I never saw it in a theater. Turned out to be one of my favorite SF films of all time.

So I’ll likely go see Avatar, just in case…

As for Scruffy and some others who keep defending Cameron’s weak storytelling by saying “It’s just the start of the story,” that’s lame. ANY movie should tell a complete story, a story that delivers in some satisfying way by the end, and especially the START of a story.

It’s like getting the first course of a meal and complaining because it’s terrible, and then being told, “Don’t worry, taste is coming later, just be patient.”

Don’t defend bad storytelling! Even for a film like Trek 09, which I loved, we have to stand up against BAD storytelling. There’s no reason to accept 70% quality when you’re paying 100% of the ticket price.

Here’s an odd observation; the positive reviews for Avatar on in the top critics section sound negative to me. (At least the soundbites they’re posting.) Here’s an example of a “positive” review from Entertainment Weekly….”As visual spectacle, Avatar is indelible, but as a movie it all but evaporates as you watch it.” WTF?

When I hear about a movie getting 100% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes…as a moviegoer, I take notice. I assumed Avatar was a must-see. Between the posts here and the “negative/positive” reviews at RT, suddenly I’m not so sure I should be laying down my hard-earned scheckles so quickly.

While there’s no denying his visual panache, I’ve never cared much for Cameron as a storyteller. Most of his movies are, to me, bloated, overlong and could use the services of a really good editor. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, Avatar is shaping up to be another typically long-winded Cameron epic.

Still, I am marginally curious to see it only for the 3D effect. I’ve always been something of a 3D buff but just about all prior 3D efforts have been either low budget affairs or family friendly stuff that was geared at the younger set. Given the running time, I’ll probably emerge from the theater with a splitting headache but I may check it out anyway if only for the visuals which, for me at least, have always been Cameron’s strong suit.

Forgot to mention, as far as 2009 sci-fi fare goes, while I enjoyed Star Trek a lot I’d have to give the nod to Watchmen, a visually striking, largely well acted and really smart movie that despite its running time held my attention from start to finish even after repeated viewings. I didn’t miss the removal of the “squid” at all; I thought the ending used, with its more worldwide scope, was far more appropriate and believable.

Me and my family will pass on this one.

Well, maybe we’ll watch it for free when it’s on TV someday.

I cannot wait to see this film. I’m all kinds of geeked up.

@ 16
I’m familiar with Varley’s Titan series. As much fun as they were to read, I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing them made into movies and it’s not because they technology doesn’t exist. Frankly, there’s some pretty deviant stuff in there, not sure what rating the MPAA would give such a film. Otherwise, there would have to be some major surgery done to the plot; I’m not sure how well it would hold up. I don’t know, though. It’s been more than a decade since I read them, maybe it can be done.

I’ll wait until it hits DVD or HBO next year. My 55 year old bladder can’t handle 160 minutes without an intermission. And, the pricetag, according to the New York papers, was closer to $400 million. (“Aliens” was the last film that Cameron directed on a reasonable budget; all his films since have been budget heavyweights.) Fox sold the North American rights to “Titanic” to Paramount when they ran scared over its escalating costs. I’m surprised they didn’t do the same here, because if “Avatar” bombs, it’s possible that Fox may be history.

The reason I don’t want to see this movie (based on some really looong trailers): it seems to show us (humans) waging war against an intelligent people on another planet for monetary gain. The future is now, only worse. No thanks. I’ll take Star Trek, with it’s optimism.

Even if the film is a dog, I will be in a THEATER, preferrably a 3D IMAX type screen to watch it. This is the stuff you should see on a big screen.

Eye candy is just like any other candy. I don’t just walk by the dish without a first hand taste. I don’t rely on what some stranger tells me about the taste. I make up my own mind. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m out 10 bucks and some popcorn and soda money? It’s the holidays. I’ve definitely got 3 hours to kill away from the hustle, bustle, and madness. I’m gonna go to Pandora for Christmas.

I’m a sci-fi/fantasy/genre fan. This is what I do.

And #30

Titanic PROFITED a half billion dollars during it’s initial theater run. I’m pretty sure the studio was quite plaeased with the investment.

Humans F*ck Over Native Population. Film at 11:00

(and 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, and 9:40)

It’s Cameron…It cant be that bad!!!…they forgot the Abyss, after Aliens is my favorite of Cameron’s….Just the fx and look alone should make it huge..of course it will have to make Titanic nimbers to appear to be a success….300.000.000+ to make a movie!!!!…should have at least thrown a few “Aliens” for good measure…maybe an easter egg…..
I hope it does well…probably be another film to pass TREK in domestic take…but maybe not until Jan 2010…

I appreciate this review and also the perspective. Thank you. Very thoughtful and informed. It coalesced a lot of less articulated notions I had about this year’s movies and how genre really isn’t genre anymore.

I’m definitely seeing Avatar if not this weekend, this week.

2009 will be remembered for the mega budget, style over substance movies (Star Trek, 2012, Avatar). But it was the triumph of the low budget movies that made it worthwhile (District 9, Moon).

#33 – I agree with you, and I’ll bet that when “Titanic” started raking in all that money, Fox came to regret its decision to sell off half of the movie. But, moviemaking is a crapshoot; you don’t know how a film will do until it’s released, no matter how much money is spent.
“Avatar” will have to equal or outgross “Titanic” just to break even; I don’t see that happening.

Heh. Probably not going to see this, at least in the original theatrical run.

3D doesn’t really interest me that much, so I’m sure I’d get bored and/or annoyed with the CGI pretty fast…and the plot I’m sure would drive me totally nuts. Westerner going native in order to compensate for his civilizational guilt complex? Check. Lazy Iraq War metaphor? Check. Vague, non-specific, and borderline incoherent, “Gaian” spirituality? Check. Non-factual, stereotyped copy of Native American culture IN SPACE? Check.

Pocohontas in space, anyone?

Thanks, but no thanks. It was lame enough the first time.

I Might just go and see it avatar and I give my thoughs about it

I’m expecting the “humans are so horrible and just destroy EVERYTHING” message- the one that’s oh-so-popular today. Hope I’m wrong, because the technical aspects are so mind blowing.
We’ll see…

#24, you should really take a closer look at some of the Star Trek reviews.

Avatar looks amazing and has everyone I know excited to see it. Cameron himself has admitted gaping plot holes and unexplained phenomenon in the film, which is far more than anyone on Star Trek did before it was released or really since.

Forgive me Anthony but it must be said,

The biggest problem with Hollywood is the “George Bush is evil” message which is just as stupid as the “Clinton is Evil” message.

Let’s see: Clinton took us into Bosnia to stop a dictator and George Bush took us into Iraq to stop a dictator. The only difference is there is no oil in Bosnia, so Clinton has the higher moral ground? People still died in the former Yugoslavia and US troops are still stationed there. There are still American warfighters in Korea, Japan and Germany.

L Paul Bremer is the real cause for the trouble in Iraq. He was no MacArthur or George Marshall. L Paul Bremer mishandled the occupation. Instead of turning Iraq over to the Iraqi army as George Bush intended, Bremer disbanded the Army and that’s when the insurgency happened. The occupation could have been over in 2005 otherwise. It’s a fact, look it up.

My point is it’s stupid and an abuse of free speech.

What’s next? A liberal Hollywood film preaching the virtues of returning Hawaii to the Hawaiians? Seriously. American Marines deposed the Queen of Hawaii, a loyal British protectorate (the Sandwich Islands) for pineapples and sugar cane. And pot smoking child molesting perverts (friends of Roman Polanski) have their panties in a twist over oil? Why not show more outrage over killing for pineapples?

US out of Hawaii now! End the occupation of Hawaii! No blood for pineapples!

A satirical bumper sticker of the 70s and 80s said “US out of North America.” I agree.

In any case, stop the preachifying.

The only merits this movie has is the CGI which is already out dated, but state of the art for 2005

#24: “Here’s an odd observation; the positive reviews for Avatar on in the top critics section sound negative to me.”

It’s not odd, happens a lot.. To Star Trek, too (“positive” reviews from most of the major venues, including NY Times, LA Times, NPR, SF Chronicle, USA Today, etc) all had glaringly negative and/or dismissive slants within them. Tomatometer just measures the percentage of “didn’t suck” reviews, doesn’t guarantee “great” reviews, even at very high percentages.

#43: “My point is it’s stupid and an abuse of free speech.”

The only way to abuse free speech is a fire-in-a-crowded-theater situation, where _deliberate deception_ causes _immediate threat_ to the safety of innocents.

“George Bush is evil” is a matter of personal opinion and belief, so expressing it, directly or artistically, or however vehemently, is not and cannot be an abuse of free speech, any more than some dude saying “God is real” is an abuse of free speech. Maybe they’re both idiots (maybe only one is); maybe they’re both causing potential harm by spreading a dumbass idea (maybe only one is) but they are _exactly_ the kinds of things free speech is meant to protect.

43 — Yes, Scruffy, I agree–“Stop the preachifying.” I wish YOU would stop.

Trying to compare Clinton/Bosnia to Bush/Iraq is intellectually dishonest at best.

I’m surprised Anthony allowed your political rant to remain posted. It looks like the worst kind of trolling, and not even remotely an attempt to actually discuss the film.

I’m waiting for the backlash against the backlash against the backlash against the backlash before I make up my mind,


Motion seconded.

warning to scruffy for political trolling

apologizing in advance for breaking the rules doesnt mitigate it. The partisan crap ends now lets not go down that stupid road to nowhere

As for Avatar. It is one of those movies that I think of as a must see. Just to see what a great director can do with a ton of money in a scifi world. It may not be the best film, but its worth the 10 bucks to see what can be done.

And we’re back to the movie reviews…

I’ll give it 6.5/10 – good movie, overall enjoyable experience but the cons are: lack of originality, poor dialogue, cliched characters, not enough story to carry it for nearly 3 hours. The CGI was, at times, amazing (especially when focussing on the Na’Vi’s faces and conveying their emotions) and at times quite poor (lack of weight to objects, the overall animated look – something that was avoided with Gollum in LOTR, very poor green screens shots, weak James Horner score.
Still, as I said, on the whole it was entertaining (it had the FUN element which is important and which ST 09 had in abudance) but not a classic by any stretch.

Actually, it was satire