01 March 2010

Avatar (2009)

An evil, interplanetary corporation wants to mine land that is occupied, and considered sacred, by the indigenous race. Big business has the ruthless military on their side, and only the scientists (playing the good guys for a change) have a problem with killing the locals.

Writer / director James Cameron shows the imagination of a 13 year old boy in creating this juvenile, predictable, cliched, and utterly manipulative film. The film starts poorly with a Planet called Pandora (so you know they are going to open a box of trouble there) where they are mining “Unobtainium” which, although being a real word, is perhaps the most ridiculous element in a movie since “flubber”.

Cameron tries to make the natives, Na’vi, likeable, but they end up as annoying and one dimensional as the humans. I kept expecting Sting to turn up and try to save them like he did the occupants of the Amazon rainforest.

I am not sure what we are to think of Sam Worthington’s character, Sully. First he sells out the Na’vi, then forgets he has done that and spends so much time flirting with the local sexpot, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), that he does nothing to prevent their slaughter. In an effort for redemption, he organizes an assault on the humans which is one of the most appalling pieces of military strategy ever. Not surprisingly, the Na’vi are slaughtered again before the foreseeable retribution arrives.

All the gunplay comes as no surprise for those familiar with Cameron’s work. The violence in Cameron’s first hit, The Terminator, was not excessive because Cameron had a good story which he stole (originally uncredited) from Harlan Ellison. In the sequel ,where he had to rely on his own ideas, he added a lot more fighting. That was how he handled the sequels to Rambo and Alien. Cameron likes to adds lots of shooting in the absence of plot. Avatar follows that formula.

As a friend of mine said, “It’s Dances With Wolves in space”. The 3D imagery is impressive and Michelle Rodriguez (Fast & Furious , The Breed, Resident Evil) is wonderful in the small amount of screen time she is given. Neither is enough reason to watch this overblown embarrassment to science fiction.

No comments: