My First Movie Review
My hatred of the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is legendary. With all the zeal of one of those Black Helicopter conspiracy theorist nutjobs, I will tell anyone willing to listen (and even some who are not) of how much I disliked that flick. Heavy-handed with its preachy tree-hugging moralizing, wooden acting, and over-reliance on special effects and environmentalist cliches and buzzwords ("the Earth is at a tipping point," "we must allow the planet to heal from the damage that mankind has inflicted upon it," yada yada), it set a mark for bad filmmaking.
Well, if the makers of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" had $200 million dollars to spend on eye-popping special effects, stunning cinematography, and ground-breaking CGI acting, they would have come up with "Avatar." Three trips to the snack bar and 16 Ding Dongs later, and I still cannot get the horrible taste of that film out of my mouth. Set on some distant moon called Pandora, it is clear from the very first minutes of the film who the bad guys are - humans. Earth peeps are on Pandora to mine a mineral called "unobtanium," while the entire planet is hostile to their presence. The humanoid Na'vi attack them with bows and arrows, the animals claw and scratch and eat them without warning, and even the atmosphere hates them.
Weighing in at 2 hours and 40 minutes, it offered plenty of opportunities for me to simultaneously gasp in awe at the wondrous visual effects and plant my face in my palm in reaction to its New Age, "become one with mother Gaia" message. In fact, my eye muscles are sore from rolling them every time something stupid was said. When the DVD gets released, college kids will get hammered with the "Avatar" drinking game, in which they have to imbibe a shot every time one of the characters makes a tree-hugging comment.
The Na'vi all have what seems to be a USB plug dangling from their heads, with which they can interface with every other living creature, including their deity. Yet they haven't figured out the mysteries of the wheel. Clearly (we are told repeatedly) their way is superior to ours. Inevitably, hostilities between the Na'vi and humans erupt. I found myself rooting for the humans. I am stupid like that. What made the movie frustrating was the presence of Sygourney Weaver, who has made a career of siding with humans against aliens who seem to be very primitive but turn out to be quite advanced. Yet, in "Avatar," she sides with the Na'vi and tries to thwart human plans. It's like dropping Milla Jovavich into a zombie movie and having her take up the zombies' cause. In fact, during one of the (many) tedious let's-all-commune-with-nature-and-sing-"Kumbaya" scenes, I started to wonder how much better things would be if an army of the undead suddenly sprang up. Needless to say, it would have improved the film immeasurably.
Speaking of Weaver and aliens, the movie was directed by James Cameron, who brought us such classics as "Terminator" and "Aliens." (Some would also point to "Titanic" as a classic, but I pretty much hated that movie until I saw Leonardo DeCraprio's frozen corpse bobbing in the water toward the end of the flick, the I loved it - any movie in which DeCraprio bites the bullet is OK with me). I would have expected him to figure out who the good guys are (humans) and who the bad guys are (everything else). Clearly, he has lost his mind.
I need to go get some more Ding Dongs and go pop "Terminator" into the DVD player.