a zoo in hell


Avatar (spoiler)

While this is something less than a full comment on Avatar, I have to say that I enjoyed it very, very much. I don't think it would be too hyperbolic to say that some day this film will be talked about in text books (ebooks) as a film which showed the shape of things to come. I think it is a remarkable film in every way.  

I am not saying it is a perfect or a "great" film, though. Obviously, it is a massive technical achievement. It is a nearly seamless blend of practical cinematography and computer generated visual effects. Much moreso than Titanic, the visual wizardry serves the content perfectly. Worth noticing, too, is how the film comments on Cameron's past work. The score recalls moments from Terminator and Aliens as the visuals suggest the earlier work. I have to wonder if this might be Cameron's equivalent of Eastwood's "Unforgiven", demonstrating the techno-warfare made famous in "Aliens" and "T2" in a context that is harder for the audience to get behind. As Col Quartitch drinks his coffee over the flaming ruin of Home Tree, I could hear Lt. Col Kilgore celebrating the smell of napalm. The ongoing war with the machines has added context in this film. 

Of course, there are plenty of shortcuts to be criticized. The closing music sounds like nothing if not a rehash of the "Titanic" theme. One could call the echoes of weapons, characters and shots from earlier films lazy filmmaking rather than homage or consistency.  

The memes going all around the interwebs these days make much of either the lack of plot or the plot's similarity to earlier films like "Pochahantas". On the surface this sounds to me like saying "Ran" stole its plot from "King Lear", or that "Star Wars" was nothing more than a remake of several other early Kurosawa films. "Clueless"?  

So, the plot was thin and predictable. I was a little annoyed with how close the Navi's beliefs were to generalized Native American practices, mostly because it amounted to lazy world-building and seemingly pinned eco-consciousness too tightly on one historical culture. The Pandoran biology is a bad case of "horses in space" for much of the film. (Well-designed "horses in space", though).  

Most interesting to me was how the film also worked in elements of headier science fiction, works like "Blade Runner" and even "2001", underneath all the explosions and scenery there was a rumination on identity, reality, and virtual interface which approached the philosophical aims of Cameron's earlier "The Abyss".  

Massive hype. Massive success. Massive worldwide potential. I've got no reason to like it, but I do. I expect Mr. Campbell would have much to say about this film.