Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dances With Wolves In Space

In a rare misstep Gary Larson once published a cartoon showing an empty hall with a couple of sad-sacks standing in it and a caption underneath that read: "Didn't Like Dances With Wolves Society". Only a fool, Larson seemed to suggest, could not have fallen for the splendour of Kevin Costner's masterpiece of the American West. I guess I was one of those fools. I thought the film was ridiculous: hokey, clunky, silly, emotionally retarded, obvious, dull-witted, predictable. I saw it in the old ABC cinema Belfast just before the IRA blew it up (not moments before) and I have to say that getting near the end I was praying for one of those bomb scares that would have allowed me to evacuate the movie theatre and get my money back.
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On Friday I had a wee bit of a similar experience. I was one of the fortunate few who got to see an extended preview of James Cameron's Avatar, a film ten years in the making, the most expensive film of all time (Cameron's previous film Titanic used to hold that record) a movie which Fox claimed at Comi-Con would "revolutionise cinema going". Maybe it will, I don't know; visually it's a striking film and the 3D effects are absolutely spectacular, but oh man that story: an Earthling soldier undergoes a body transplant to infiltrate an alien arboreal society (with whom humanity is at war) and of course falls for one of the elfin alien girls and goes native: Dances With Wolves in space.
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Don't include me in the James Cameron haters club. I liked T2 and T1 and I loved Aliens. Titanic made me long for the cold embrace of a watery death, but on the whole I think Cameron is a pretty good director. I hope I'm wrong about Avatar and of course it's completely unfair to judge a film just from a trailer. And anyway it doesn't matter what I or anyone else says. AICN has been hyping it for months and the fanboy audience is a lock. (That, er, includes me). The film is utterly critic proof, but if you're expecting originality in story telling to go along with originality in cinematography I have a feeling you are going to be disappointed.
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You can see the two minute teaser trailer on Apple here. Oh and BTW if Gary Larson reads this somehow...listen mate, I'll take it all back, declare DWW the greatest film of all time and buy the DVD if only you'll start cartooning again.