Avatar Beautiful Illusion

I saw Avatar this weekend, figuring that it would be the best bang for the buck in my small movie-going budget, and of all the holiday release movies, would translate least well from big to small screen. It’s a beautiful film, with ethereal images of alien flora and visceral fauna, with excellent animation, all very beautifully designed to translate to action figures and video games, which are needed to pay for the movie production. My favorite is the hammerhead rhinoceros that just gets irritated when you shoot it with a rocket launcher, but you can stand your ground and holler at it to make it back up.

But after I went home and the palpable effects of the eye candy wore off, the story lacked the imagination of the artwork. The plot is extremely predictable, with the primary tension being the hope that they would not really go there, that goodness would triumph over the American Way. I get so tired of evil, uncaring corporations and evil, twisted military people.  Ya know, it’s a cliché, and nowhere is it more of a cliché than in science fiction and fantasy movies.  I won’t discuss the story–anything after the first five minutes is a spoiler. If you’ve seen a trailer, you know the story.

If a studio is going to spend an insane amount of money on making a movie, why not hire a writer and develop the characters to match the work of the concept artists?  Oh, right, studios are evil corporations. I’m not saying that the characterization or the acting was bad, but it was pretty much just Fern Gully in space, but then Star Wars is just the Wizard of Oz in space. Avatar is entertainment, but it needs a Han Solo whose “plan does not involve martyrdom.”

I don’t expect hard science in movies, but it does not make sense that the connection thingies of the people of Pandora (gee, how original) are in their braided ponytails instead of their real tails–why have tails at all, except to be stepped on?  Oh, right, romance novel heroes have long hair. And the macguffin, unobtainium, is perfectly placed as the thing that makes the ecosystem work, so the corporation has to kill to get it.  Nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie. It’s almost an installation piece of art, and I sort of wish I had stayed up until 2am to get a ticket for the IMAX version for total sensory overload. But Avatar could have been so much more. Science fiction writers abound, and they write stories that never get translated into movies. I guess we just don’t care about stories unless the visuals blow us away. At least I got a set of 3D glasses. I feel like Sylar wearing them.

So, by all means go, and help the industry know that extravaganzas are what we love best.

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