Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Couple More Thoughts on "Avatar".

This post may contain spoilers so do not read if you haven't seen "Avatar".

After watching the movie for the second time and in 2D there were some points I noticed the first time but had no opportunity to insert in my official review seamlessly.
Each of those points would've demanded I wrote a different review about the movie, so this will be an idea of what those would've looked like.

  • I couldn't help but wonder if "Avatar" isn't a naive attempt to recreate nature in all of its splendor or if it's in fact a threat of things to come.
    Thinking about "WALL-E" earlier today I remember how much I was stricken by the fact that in the movie the humans aboard the ship have to learn about Earth through images and that they in fact have never seen anything like it before.
    With the creation of planet Pandora which is obviously an Earth ripoff is James Cameron announcing to us that there will come a time when we will only see CGI vegetation?
    Why then would he bother recreating something we can see for free? Was his desire just to emulate nature?

  • What was going on with Jake Sully's narration? When the movie began it instantly reminded me of a Raymond Chandler novel and/or film noir.
    Cameron suggests that when he mentions Jake's brother being killed and for an instant make us think that there's more to that than what is mentioned and there might be some big conspiracy behind it.
    Jake's sense of humor as a narrator also seems worthy of Philip Marlowe (the nods to the economy made me chuckle and hope it'll all be fixed by the year 2154).

  • I hadn't noticed that the film starts with practically the same image it ends with. This whole idea of rebirth and succeeding lives makes for an interesting subject in two different perspectives.
    On one side there's the whole need Jake had to fill an empty role, first with his brother and then with the Na'vi (you could even say he was trying to fill the role of a soldier once he became disabled). This gives the film a fascinating psychological background because Sully is always trying to live up to something.
    His trials are almost Steinbeck-ian in their cyclical nature. Are we supposed to think once the movie's over his issues are done and dealt with?
    There's also the whole idea of rebirth seen in a spiritual way. It's easy to guess that Cameron extracted his ideas from actual native groups and the naturalist view as well as their idea that everything is reborn gifts the movie with an illuminating point of view.
    Cause there's also the problem Dr. Grace (Weaver) encounters when she tries hard to decide whether it's magic or science in there.
    Watching Weaver's inner struggle is a thing of beauty and when she says there must be a biochemical element in Pandora, we might as well be watching someone converting, which leads me to my next point...

  • As rousing as the whole Toruk episode is with Jake fulfilling a sort of prophecy and winning his place among the Na'vi I couldn't help but wonder if this was another naive move by Cameron's part or is there something else beneath this.
    From the minute Neytiri (Saldana) tells Jake the story of her grandfather's grandfather mastering the beast it's beyond obvious that Jake will be the next one to fulfill this role.
    But how much of this is Cameron following "how to write a screenplay" rules and how much is it a subconscious attempt to subjugate his own creations based on Imperialist thinking?
    When everyone is cheering as Jake arrives to save the day, very few people must be asking themselves why didn't any of the Na'vi try to accomplish this feat before?
    Cameron paints them like a civilization waiting for this prophecy to be fulfilled by a foreigner (something that reminded me of the Incas) and it's somewhat awkward to see Neytiri's panties get in a twist as she sees this man who just betrayed her a few scenes before is now her hero.
    Is Jake Sully the one meant to fulfill this mythical role (Joseph Campbell would have a blast with all the codes in this movie) or is he merely a clever "white guy" using the natives' stories to get his way by manipulating them?

  • Last but not least, in Cameron's defense I was watching the movie and suddenly started wondering on the nature of what makes a screenplay good.
    Considering how much James Cameron's screenwriting work gets trashed by critics and audiences.
    It's true that not everyone can be Woody Allen or Pedro Almodóvar, but a screenplay's magic is not only found in its dialogue. The Academy has spoiled us to have that misconception.
    Watching the lovely flowers and animals in this movie I suddenly had the notion that James Cameron actually sat down and wrote all of these details down for the visual effects people and the rest of the crew to bring them to life.
    Therefore a screenplay can't merely be judged by what we see, in fact it can't. AMPAS should sit down its members and have them read every screenplay to make the vote fair.
    If not they should choose to reward "line delivery" instead.


Kelsy said...

If nothing else, Avatar provides ample opportunity for analysis, discussion, or general complaint. I find that to be some of the best cinema.

Castor said...

Great post Jose. Some great insight into some potential motivation behind the movie. How did you think the 2D version compare to the 3D?

Jose said...

Glad you enjoyed it! Now that you mention it I found the movie a bit underwhelming in 2D.
It honestly has nothing we didn't see before in "Lord of the Rings" for example. Some of the plants and backgrounds almost look cartoonish.
Don't know if 3D had spoiled my perception or if it will have the same effect on those who only see it in 2D.

Luke said...

Some of the same things I was wondering you've included in this post -- the economy thing was definitely something that concerned me. (Fingers crossed!) :) And the whole "mastering the beast" issue was a little far-fetched as well. There seemed to be several hundred able-bodied people who could've done just what Jake did... ah well, guess I'll let myself get wrapped up in the magic of the movie and forget about the shortcomings... :)