Friday, May 28, 2010

Dude Movies: Avatar

What's it about?
It's about three hours.

Any chicks in the movie?
Some, but they are either big blue furry space elves, half Sigorney Weaver / half space elf, or Michelle Rodriguez. And let's be honest: Michelle Rodriguez is basically a dude.

Awesomeness factor?
Not nearly high enough, which is also probably what you'll be telling yourself at hour two of this turgid, flabby space epic. By now, you're almost certainly familiar with the basics of Avatar even if you haven't seen the movie (space marines go to Planet Fern Gully to strip mine it but are waylaid by plucky natives - with the help of a white dude first, natch) so let's get the good stuff out of the way first:

1) There's a totally bitchin' sequence involving dragons* at about the halfway point where the movie sort of wakes itself up from it's druggy, New Agey, touchy-feely snoozefest and (for about fifteen minutes, anyway) turns into something that's still stupid but at least fun to watch. It was true when I was twelve and it's true now: Dragons are cool.

2) The last half-hour or so where the marines FINALLY stop whining about Pandora and start tearing it a new asshole. I was supposed to be rooting for the space marines, right? I wasn't? Whoops.

So let's be generous and say that's about forty-five minutes of passably awesome stuff, strikingly similar in shape to James Cameron's previous nerd-boner icepack Titanic. That leaves about TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES of some of the most boring goddamn shit I have ever made myself sit through, somehow made worse because all I could think about is the battalion of computer-animation Poindexters that it clearly took to make it. I salute those Poindexters, because on a technical level Avatar is a freakin' marvel and which, if nothing else, finally convinced me that motion capture isn't just the 21st century version of tracing. But at the conceptual level, it's such an incredible waste. Pandora doesn't come across as an alien landscape so much as an animated Yes album cover with some phosphorescent jellyfish thrown in for good measure, and the Na'vi (the dumb-sounding name for the space elf tribe) comes across as Generic Blue Indigenous Race designed using probably the same process the Itchy & Scratchy writers used to create Poochie.** Of course, if there was a story to go along with the space elves I probably wouldn't care, but what little story Avatar has is told by people who assume their audience is made up of total morons, so anything that might have had some inherent appeal is either ignored or simplified to the point of ridiculousness. So, the final effect is that of a really talented cook, taking really expensive ingredients and utilizing a kitchen full of incredibly talented staff, and then throwing that shit into a blender so he can spoon-feed you the purest, blandest pablum he can. Not my idea of a good time.

Mitigated by?
Dude, I heard you can sync up Avatar to Tales Of Topographic Oceans and it totally works!

* OK, they're not REALLY dragons because it's a different planet but, come on. It's got wings. And a tail. And a serpent head. It's a dragon.

** "Hmmmm, ok, we're at about 50% Native American and 50% space elf. Can we lower the space elf to 35% and maybe add 10% Maori with about 5% what I think Aztecs looked like without bothering to check to see if I'm right first?" "Sure thing, Mr. Cameron!"

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