It may just be possible that some of you out there have not seen James Cameron’s record breaking visual effects spectacular “Avatar”. Perhaps you were broke and refused to pay the ridiculous cinema entrance fees, perhaps you don’t like science fiction, or perhaps you were put off by James Cameron’s smug gormless face as he appeared for the hundredth time proclaiming it to be the most imaginative thing since dreams were invented.
And if you are one of this small collection of people, a tiny minority that the media think of as Luddites who haven’t seen the film because they are fearful “the big people on the screen will break out and eat them”, then I applaud you. Because I was one of your number until a few weeks ago when I gave in, paid a ridiculous amount of money, and wasted three hours of my life.
Avatar, as if you didn’t know, is about a disabled ex-soldier, Jake Sully, who’s given a second chance by becoming an operator of an “Avatar”, a fake body of an alien race that his mind is linked up to and controls. Upon the alien planet he befriends a tribe of locals who a corporation are hoping will move because they want a valuable mineral beneath their land. As things move on Sully learns that he’s actually on the wrong side and turns against his corporate masters, and blah blah blah!
What hit me first was just how juvenile the script was. It appeared as if it were written by a seven year old, rather than the master of cinematic sci-fi Cameron once was. Terrible dialogue, uninteresting characters and plot twists so predictable I could have written the story on a napkin in the first five minutes and acted as if I had performed a grand magic trick… until I found out the rest of the audience had done exactly the same thing. After about forty minutes I was looking at my watch and sighing… over two hours still to go… bugger.
But perhaps it’s wrong to judge Avatar on its story, after all, they clearly didn’t give a damn about it. The hype surrounding the film is about its visual 3D effects. So how were these? Well initially they were very impressive, this isn’t the hokey 3D of bad horror films or Dr. Who specials. But the novelty of that soon wore off and I was left wondering why people were so spellbound by a world that looked remarkably similar to World of Warcraft.
The clash between evil human technology and local blue beasts seemed eerily similar to Sonic The Hedgehog, with even the classic floating islands making an appearance. They might as well have named the lead villain Dr. Robotnik (none of this Dr. Eggman nonsense) and renamed the precious mineral “Unobtainium” to “chaos emerald” (which would have been no less silly).
A lot has been said about the film being anti-American, criticising the USA’s foreign policy. Sadly, this is giving the film more credit than it’s due. Avatar is not anti-American, it is anti-corporation, giving a warning about the lengths unchecked business will go to for profit. There is nothing new in this, Aliens made the same point in 1986 to far better effect.
My biggest disappointment is that I should have loved this film. It has all the themes I like: evil humans with nasty technology, rebelling animals and plant-life, anti-corporation. Good stuff. The problem is that it was all so badly executed I wanted to leap into that damn 3D screen and throttle everyone.
So, my final score? 4 out of 10. And those 4 points are awarded simply because the 3D effects are something worth seeing. It’s just a shame they didn’t spend more time developing the script, and once 3D becomes commonplace there’ll be nothing redeeming about it at all.
ALSO BEING UNFAIRLY JUDGED…
Alice In Wonderland
I really cannot care less about this film. Tim Burton hasn’t done anything good in quite a while. Sweeney Todd was dull as hell, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was forgettable despite Johnny’s best efforts, and Planet Of The Apes easily falls into the list of worst films of all time. The Corpse Bride was OK, but ultimately was a desperate attempt to regain the past glories of The Nightmare Before Christmas, a project he worked on but didn’t direct.
Not even the clips of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter look any good, it’s just Burton using him same old aesthetic allowing Johnny to be a bit odd.
Hunter S. Thompson: My Hero and Role Model by Zömßiè Inc.
BUT SOMETHING I’M DESPERATELY LOOKING FORWARD TO…
The Rum Diary
This is a film to get excited about. Returning to the winning formula of Johnny Depp playing Hunter S Thompson, The Rum Diary is about a journalist called Paul Kemp (actually HST) writing for a newspaper in the Caribbean. Whilst being a giggle and Hunter’s only novel, the project’s main source of fireworks is the director: Bruce Robinson. Yes, Bruce Robinson, director of “Withnail and I”, and the mind-blowing “How To Get Ahead In Advertisement”. He hasn’t been seen directing since his disastrous “Jennifer 8” but now he’s back and it makes me want to pee my pants with joy.