Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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Avatar—an unpatriotic review

I saw Avatar last night with a friend and we both agreed that the story and characters were stock and pretty lame—its plot wholly predictable and blandly stereotypical.
The presentation was also preceded by a couple of 3D trailers for Shrek-10 (Universal) and Alice in Wonderland (produced by Mickey the Rat-Disney) that actually seemed to take pride in creating a kind of visual induced nausea by way of an unremitting use of ping-pong-paddle-ball shots.  I could not imagine sitting through a feature length visual torture of this magnitude. I guess it works on 12year-old neural synapses if none other’s. 
I had a sinking feeling, going into the main feature, that we were in for more of the same.  Fortunately this fear proved unfounded as Avatar’s cinematography was admirably restrained, using the 3D effect in a very naturalistic, non-mannered way. Frankly, I think the stunning visual effects, the marvelous innovations in the facial animation, and many of the other artistic, fantastic landscapes needed little added 3D enhancement. 
I mean there is nothing here that wasn’t done long years ago with the existing polarized glasses technology.  The so-called “brilliant, giant leap forward” in film technology, hyped by the media, proved, for me to, be mostly just that—hype.  Director, James Cameron is a consummate showman and there were clearly some CG breakthroughs.  I just would rather have been spared all the hyperbole.  When you spend that much time producing a 162 minute (!) film with every frame composed to some degree by the computer with a resultant behemoth sized budget, you’d better hype it to the sky. 
Back in the day, when movies first started to use (overuse) and revel in computer generated special effects, I formulated Boldt’s Law that stated that the amount of CG effects was inversely proportional to the quality of the writing and the acting.  I’m afraid Avatar will force me to dust off this old law and put it forth again. 
I sometimes get tired of people’s surprise at the anti-establishment nature of many well financed Hollywood movies.  These movies achieve big cheers by getting audiences to root for the terrorists, the “indigenous scum” and all the innocent victims (called “splatter” by our troops) of our ongoing military imperialism.  Such short memories we all seem to have.  Hollywood has always made top box office out of poking its thumb in the eye of Big Brother.  Remember Star Wars (1977) shortly after the end of the Vietnam War (1975)?  Actually Big Brother Bush, Big Brother O-bomb-a and upcoming Big Brother Palin are never going to censor these films because, in a peculiar Orwellian 1984 way, they help the Proles let off virtual steam.  Hey, If people really took the message and the metaphors of Avatar seriously, there wouldn’t be an Army recruiting station window in town that would be safe. 
No, films like Avatar callously sell us out like most other establishment media.  The big punches are ultimately pulled by way of flimsy two-dimensional characters, entirely predictable plot structures and equally improbable, underdog victories at the end. I don’t think I am creating a spoiler here if I say that I was completely amused and appalled at the super-predictable way the conflict between the antagonist and the protagonist developed and reached its final audience-pandering resolution in the last reel.  I kept wishing the banal dialogue was in French or Portuguese—without subtitles. 
In spite of some really impressive art, I felt Avatar deeply insulted both my intelligence and many of my other sensibilities.  Hey, if all you are expecting is an all-out action, popcorn movie there should be no disappointment.
What really pissed me off most about the film was they wouldn’t give me my senior discount in spite of clearly posted information to the contrary.
Ha (freaking) rrumph!


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