Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar is The Abyss, not Aliens

Don't believe the critics who tell you that Avatar is a great film: these guys are paid shills, corporate hacks, sell-outs and professional boosters for the film industry. Do believe me because I have no axe to grind, except maybe against James Cameron's beardy face. Avatar is a headache inducing bore of colossal proportions. The first four hours are like a really bad National Geographic special on New Guinea. We are supposed to be awe struck by 3 D digital plants and pseudo Native American blue aliens. The grumbling in my cinema started an hour in and then the grumbling became groans, a couple of walk outs, and then quite a few people in my row started taking their 3 D glasses off to give their eyeballs a break. The hours crawled by and it just went on and on with lines like: "I fell in love with the forest and then I fell in love with you." Ugh. Remember that cool bit in Titanic where the falling dude hits the propeller? - there isn't even a bit like that. To quote Michael Palin in the lion tamer sketch: its just dull, dull, deadly dull. The last act of the film is better but by this time my brain had forced me into a protective coma so I couldn't really appreciate it. I'll admit I was nervous about Avatar because of the extended trailer, but I liked T1, T2 and Aliens and expected a lot more of Cameron than a cheesy Thomas Covenant rip off. Yeah that's right I said Thomas Covenant rip off, namely Vol 2 The Ill Earth War. I have read everything! BTW whoever calls this film science fiction does not understand the concept of science fiction. This is a mid 80's era fantasy film, nothing more nothing less. The one consolation in the whole brain damaging mess is Sam Worthington who is clearly going to be the new Russell Crowe. If you havent seen Avatar, if I were you, I'd stick on Nickelodeon and watch Avatar: The Last Airbender instead - a kids cartoon with better dialogue, mythology and effects that wont give you a headache.

67 comments:

seana said...

I had a customer come in this weekend who said he liked it, though. I don't think he was a paid shill, at least I don't think he was paid to walk across the street to tell me that.

I asked you once if you had read everything and you said not everything, so now I really don't know what to believe.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Did he call you Susie?

(The insane will also like Avatar)

No really I can see why some people might like it.

(If they have river blindness for example).

...

You nailed me on the everything thing. I havent read everything everything, but I have read everything. Hope that clears that up.

seana said...

Well, yes it does, actually. But that might be because I apparently have a very high tolerance for gloog.

No, I trust your opinion more than this random guy on the street survey, and my question is, not that you would know anything about it and not that I have any inclination to try it personally, but maybe the movie is better under some mind altering substance? Maybe something that makes time, especially long stretches of time in theaters appear to be an illusion?

seana said...

I should add that if it is, it will definitely play in Santa Cruz for months, if not years.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Roger Ebert gave Avatar FOUR stars and said it was the most important science fiction film since Star Wars.

Thats also what he said about Dark City.

Remember Dark City?

Nah, didnt think so. Nobody does.

Matt said...

Yeah, pretty cheesy. I haven't read the sci-fi novel but my first thought was, of course, Dances with Wolves. Stephen Lang, a good actor, didn't even impress me as the gung-ho military advisor. Too bad Cameron didn't get his hands on a good David Webb Peoples script.

It does have an environmental theme, which is always nice, and Cameron all too briefly revisits his giant fighting robots.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

I think this could have been a good film if it had been script doctored by Peoples, shot in 2D, lost 50 minutes in the middle and dropped the fantasy elements (flying mountains for all love).

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian,

Did you at least see any good trailers?!?

Brian O'Rourke said...

I have yet to see it, but this film seems to evoke either love it or hate it type of emotions. Though, it's currently got an 8.9 rating on IMDb, and an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So wait, are you saying you didn't like The Abyss?

John McFetridge said...

Star Wars isn't science fiction, either, do we have to drag Robert Sawyer in here again?

I do like the idea that people are getting upset about Avatar because of its message and drawing political lines. 'Cause you know, James Cameron is the poter boy for "the left."

buff said...

Roger Ebert gave Die Hard three stars. Then gave Die Hard II four stars
Enough said.

Michael Stone said...

I've been looking forward to reading your reaction to Avatar. I guess I'll wait for a mate to get the DVD (there's always one) then borrow it.

Liam Hoyle said...

We thought about taking the kid to see it, but, it's a no go? Now J and I, we're looking forward to Sherlock Holmes and The Road for ourselves.

Dana King said...

I read three reviews today; have not seen the movie. My conclusion: visually arresting, but the story is a hackneyed mess.

Pass.

seana said...

I did see Dark City and liked it quite a lot. In fact I'm still not convinced that this isn't the way the world really works.

Actually, that would be a good post for my Lapse of Memory blog, which has been hurting for material lately--though not due to my memory getting any better.

The thing is, now I almost can't resist seeing Avatar just to see where I come out in the voting on it. You might say you talked me into it.

Although I'm with you, Liam--Sherlock Holmes with RDJr. is definitely ahead of this one.

Anonymous said...

Roger Ebert gave Miller's Crossing two stars and put it in his book I Hated This Movie.

marco said...

I have read everything!

I don't trust snobbish read-it-all intellectuals like you. You don't like Harry Potter, the New Yorker is not good enough for you. Clearly you're not in touch with the taste of us simple folk. Avatar seems just the right blockbuster-with-a-moral for the season.

adrian mckinty said...

Brian

Not a huge fan of THe Abyss no. The trailer for Alice in Wonderland looked like a torment of the damned.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Yup point taken. Magic plays a heavy part in both films.

Star Wars was definitely more of a Roger Corman bam bam bam vibe though.

adrian mckinty said...

Buff

Amazing eh? He tends to overpraise or underpraise and desperately scramble when he makes a mistake.

adrian mckinty said...

Michael

No dont do that. If you're going to see it at all see it in the cinema.

adrian mckinty said...

Liam

I forget to say this to Brian. The trailer for Sherlock Holmes looks really really good. THere's one bit that looks like they're fighting on the Brooklyn Bridge as its being built which reminded me of The Alienst.

adrian mckinty said...

Dana

Visually arresting to an extent. The glasses give you a headache and you dont quite believe what you're seeing.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Two good British actors in the leads for Dark City: Rufus Sewell and Kiefer Sutherland (look it up if you dont believe me).

Yeah Sherlock's trailer is good. Incidentally when you get your computer fixed you can watch all of Buster Keaton's SHerlock JNR on YouTube.

adrian mckinty said...

Anon

Goes back to what I was saying. He underpraised the early Coens and overpraised the later ones.

adrian mckinty said...

Marco


But I am the voice of a generation.

Let me add the joke for you: what the Zimmer Frame generation? (In The US they are called Walkers)

seana said...

Being the voice of a generation must be kind of a strain.

Kiefer Sutherland I can take or leave, but I agree on Rufus Sewell. I loved him in Cold Comfort Farm, although the movie itself was a little disappointing compared to the book.

I have sort of given up on the idea that my computer is ever going to be fixed. It's kind of turning into a Rube Goldberg machine. I am going to take it down to a cool place my friend told me about where they help you fix it yourself, but after I figure out how much in arrears I am after the holidays, I think I'm just going to buy a new one. Let's hope there are some good sales.

I love Buster Keaton. More my kind of guy than Chaplin.

Liam Hoyle said...

I thought the plot for The Alienist seemed a good one, tried to read it, but kinda lost interest when Teddy Roosevelt became a primary character. Love period piece books and movies though, From Hell being probably my fav.

John McFetridge said...

Funny you should mention Roger Corman, I wrote a blog post last week about Cameron and John Sayles starting out together working for Corman.

And my brother-in-law is Kiefer Sutherland's godfather. Kiefer's grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was recently named the "Greatest Canadian" (mostly because he's the father of health care and we like sticking it to Americans).

I really liked Raising Arizona but as time has passed I'm starting to think that 2nd unit director, Sam Raimi, may have had more to do with the look of the film than he's given credit for.

seana said...

Whoa, this corner of the blogosphere seems to have too few degrees of separation to be utterly convincing, Simmaster--whoever you may be.

I kind of agree with you on the Alienist, Liam. Great premise, but the plot went south somewhere. I don't remember if it was with Teddy Roosevelt or not, though.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Keaton's my man, too. Steamboat Bill Jr. and The General are all better than this new-fangled shite.

Star Wars important? To makers of action figures, maybe.
================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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adrian mckinty said...

Seana

It is a strain especially since my generation is so intent on rejecting me.

I think The Genenal's my favourite although Sherlock Jnr has its moments.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Interesting point about Sam Raimi, alhtough I think the first 4 Coen Brothers films are all masterpieces or near masterpieces. If they'd quit there or maybe after Fargo and The Big Lebowski...we could have avoided a lot of tears over the years.

Nice celebrity linkage. Doesnt that mean that you are Kiefer Sutherland's godfather in law then?

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Over on your blog there's a discussion about IRA men helping the Nazis. Somehow you've forgotten about Donald Sutherland in The Eagle Has Landed who plays a sympathetic Nazi loving IRA collaborator who bangs Jenny Agutter. Of course he's much more Oirish than Irish.

adrian mckinty said...

Liam

Funny I felt the same way about the Alienist. Caleb Carr's own Sherlock Holmes novel isnt that hot either, although there is some good comedy in it.

Brian O'Rourke said...

All -

Speaking of Roger Corman, didn't the Academy decide to give him one of those lifetime achievement awards this year?

Adrian -

I like The Abyss, found it entertaining. And I read recently that both Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio suffered from nervous breakdowns during the shoot.

Matt said...

Speaking of sci-fi, there's a trailer up for BBC's new take on The Day of the Triffids:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ_W9b9E0DA&feature=player_embedded

seana said...

The Abyss sounds like it must have been a very jolly movie to work on.

I haven't seen any Keaton for a long time,and I've never seen the Sherlock Holmes one. Time to get back to him, I guess.

Naomi Johnson said...

Can't remember the last time anyone mentioned Thomas Covenant. Wow, and you just a young feller, too.

I'll take a pass on Avatar, stay home and watch a re-run of Auntie Mame or something.

adrian mckinty said...

Brian

I think Ron Howard also said that Roger Corman taught him everything he knew but that isnt necessarily a good thing.

Ed Harris - what a wimp.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

That looks interesting. I think the BBC own much of Wyndham's work so we may see some other stuff too.

I heard Eddie Izzard on the radio and he claims that its very good.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Just fix your computer and spend a couple of hours on YouTube...

I saw this brilliant Laurel and Hardy one over there - it was a silent short and it was basically them vandalising some guy's house. Its hard to describe but it was very very funny.

adrian mckinty said...

Naomi

I see that Donaldson has begun a new set of Chronicles featuring Covenant's daughter. I havent read them because I dont want to get sucked in. I liked the first two sets but they were heavy going at times. I thought SD did some of his best work with the two parter: Mordants Need.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Over on your blog there's a discussion about IRA men helping the Nazis. Somehow you've forgotten about Donald Sutherland in The Eagle Has Landed who plays a sympathetic Nazi loving IRA collaborator who bangs Jenny Agutter. Of course he's much more Oirish than Irish.

Nah, I just leave anything with eagle in the title for your consideration,

seana said...

I really, really need to have access to YouTube again. I'm already backlogged.

I liked Laurel and Hardy a lot better than the Three Stooges when I was a kid--of course what I really mean is that I liked Stan Laurel.

I ran into some friends of mine--parents a bit older than me, son a lot younger--on their way to see Avatar. I asked them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down as they passed through the store, as, at the moment we are besieged and there isn't really time for in depth critiques. They were obliging and as I worked the cash register, I saw the mother give it a big thumbs up and her son do a wavering thumbs up/thumbs down gesture. It makes sense, though. She's an artist and he's a sci fi fantasy fanboy. I'm getting the sense that the fans will value it for its beauty and its detractors will be pointing out things like plot and dialogue. I like that they all went to it together, though.

Matt said...

It's funny - Avatar seems to have its predictable posse of fanboys (still waiting for those Batman fanboys to show up; lucky I live on the high floor of a walk-up). What's surprising is the the amount of Oscar buzz which seems to be building for the flick. I suppose when Dances with Wolves won Oscars over Goodfellas, that set a pretty serious precedent. My personal vote goes to the Hurt Locker.

One more link, which people are under no obligation to visit - a pretty funny analysis of The Phantom Menace, one of the few space opera epics which Avatar perhaps outclasses. Don't let the dull voice fool you, there's some pretty good criticism here. Found it on Simon Pegg's recommendation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI&feature=player_embedded

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I was impressed how I tied up two threads there the Sutherland family and your IRA Nazis.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I think James Cameron has made the transformation from tough techhie geek to sensitive teenage girl with aplomb. I'm sure he would like Twilight.

The one thing I can say for Cameron now - the one thing - is that he has always had strong female leads and thats to his credit.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

AICN etc. are all Kool Aid drinkers. The film blows.

Does it suck harder than Phantom Menace - of course not - nothing could but still its total shite.

I'll check to the link. I like Simon Pegg except for the fact that he's Chris Martin's best mate. Spaced is a classic.

seana said...

Uh oh--one of my friends just called me and told me how much she liked Avatar. She actually liked the storytelling aspect. I guess I'm going to have to go see it now, to see whether she can still be my friend or not. Good thing she's giving me a ride down to spend Christmas with my mother before I have to make this fateful decision.

Actually, I think I'll just go see Up in the Air and avoid all the conflict.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, you seem not to notice that I invoked yet a third string: that of Clive James and the helicopters.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Oh I get it. Where Eagles Dare. Which incidentally is a much better film than Avatar.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I could see how you would be impressed by the storytelling in Avatar if for example you never heard or read a story before. Otherwise, I dont get it...

Its Dances With Wolves with the big tree from Thomas Covenant and no spark of wit, originality or intelligence anywhere.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

I'm going to give a live link to that Phantom Menace review. Its very well done. Shades of Robert McKee and Pauline Kael in there.

Phantom Menace Review

John McFetridge said...

Wait, was there someone who thought Phantom Menace was a good movie?

Next thing, restaurant critics will be covering Burger King, writing detailed reviews of the Whopper and the fries....

Peter Rozovsky said...

"Which incidentally is a much better film than Avatar."

Gee, scuttlebutt has it that Avatar is pretty good.

Matt said...

I'm glad you liked it, Adrian. You know, you never can be sure until you throw it up there and people start posting responses.

Not a positive review of TPM, but very insightful, breaking even the lightsaber fights down. Please keep in mind people, it is quite black humoured. I always forget to post that, not sure what it says about me that I take those sorts of jokes in stride.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Its more of a deconstruction of the script problems with the Phantom Menace that a straight review. And its funny. And the funny sustains over all 7 parts. In fact its a much better film than the Phantom Menace which means that Roger Ebert should give it four stars (he gave the Phantom Menace 3 and a half!!).

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

I watched his review of Star Trek First Contact which was a film I liked but he made some good points.

Matt said...

I like First Contact as well. it wasn't perfect; maybe I was starved for a quality Trek film but I still enjoy it. part of it has to do with the fact that, like the original Trek crew, the TNG crew is now after a couple of decades familiar enough in each other's company it's fun just to watch them banter back and forth.

Not sure if I agree that there's a TNG-Picard and a feature film-Picard, though. I think there's a pre- and post-torture and assimilation Picard.

MadisonPhotography said...

I can't imagine even being that "good"...at least Titanic has some good falls from the overturned ship's hull.

adrian mckinty said...

James Cameron asshole update. I guess not all Canadians are nice.

Matt said...

A Canadian who spends 365 days a year in Malibu, if it means anything.
The guy has the stones to call Michael Mann nuts, for crying out loud. I'd take him over our current Prime Minster, however.

That said, I sometimes react similarly when my students' parents run into me on the street and tell me what a nice job they think I'm doing with their kids.

seana said...

Your friend Girish Shahane has written an interesting blog post on the movie as well, I see.

Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

Much gladness that I am not the only one who is surprised..no indignant....at all the hoopla around Avatar. It is a really not worth it.
Though I can say with much pride that I did not have to waste my money at the theatre before coming to that conclusion.

By the way, this is my first visit here and I think I will be bacck for more.

adrian mckinty said...

Thanks for dropping by Sujoy.

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