08th Jan2010

Hey Star Trek! dijoo getta RUN AROUND!?

by jerad.formby

Where-ever possible, this blog has been translated from the original Na’vi.

A long time ago, in a time known only as “the eighties”, a movie called Terminator was made. The gentleman responsible was bold enough to sequel the popular movie Alien with his own Aliens. This was followed by The Abyss and a sequel to Terminator called Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

This same gentleman nailed Hollywood’s attempts at merging action and comedy with a movie called True Lies. He went on to create something called Titanic in the late ninties and has remained silent until December of last year.

This gentleman has always been not just a favorite filmmaker of ours, but he also has one of the best-dammed-origin-stories-on-the-planet-earth!

Of all the filmmakers and the “visionaries,” Cameron stands a world apart. His intensity, passion, and personality are aggressively communicated in all of his films. He has rarely, if ever, taken “no” for an answer. As his budgets accelerated with each movie, he sought foreign investors to gain the funds needed to communicate his vision. He turned over patents in camera technology to get The Abyss filmed.

It’s very obvious that Avatar brought us the most rewarding spectacle movie audiences have seen since forever. Cameron developed the technology, the vision, the species, and he contributed 30 words to the Na’vi vocabulary.

The guy’s hands-on.

Our relationship with James Cameron began in the eighties. This was a time when the biggest thing we feared was nuclear annihilation. Cameron grabbed our fears and mixed up the most insanely hyperbolic scenarios.

We were treated to machines that “rose from the ashes of a nuclear fire.” We watched Marines nuke the site from orbit because it was “the only way to be sure.” And we also saw underwater aliens threaten the human race because our nuclear ambitions were “getting out of control.”

If you don’t know those movies, gentle reader, we recommend you run out and watch them right now!

James Cameron should well write a book on how to direct action. Several of our modern filmmakers should read that book. His stuff always has a proper sense of “scale” and “space.” People are never confused by his formula for action and Avatar is no exception.

In fact, Avatar has raised the bar and can be read as Cameron’s challenge to his peers that great action can still exist in this MTV-Cookie-Cutter-Editing-Style-World.

And holy crap! Zoe Saldana is nothing short of awesome as an alien.

The 3-D spectacle was nothing short of eye-popping and amazing. Avatar is the game-changer that we all hoped it would be. The only trouble the movie has is that it was made so recently.

See, our problems with James Cameron began in the late 1990s.

Everything was going so smoothly. James Cameron was the go-to-guy for the very best in action. He also had these great characters that he wrote himself. Action, conflict, character. The very things we always wanted in a major motion picture.

Then he turned his sights on something called Titanic –also known as the biggest moneymaker the world has ever seen! We didn’t mind Titanic, but it’s still the only Cameron movie we haven’t seen more than once.

The trouble with the movie, in our humble opinion, is that the characters were either totally evil or totally good. Billy Zane was so obtusely awful, that he reminded us of a Disney villain.

Avatar is getting lots of criticism for its story. Dances With Wolves in space is thrown around a lot. The story is also praised as being timeless.

When the credits roll, Avatar teaches us that love is way cooler than greed. This obvious end makes us wish Avatar had been a spectacular musical –because that’s about as thoughtful as a musical expects us to get.

The problem isn’t the story.

The story is fine, for the most part, but it’s the melodrama that drives us up the wall. When a movie loads in at over two hours and all of the characters are either right or wrong and nothing in the middle, it’s a lot like watching two-plus hours of this:

This melodramatic tradition, upon closer examination, seems to dominate a lot of James Cameron’s work. Perhaps Burke isn’t all that complicated in Aliens. The Terminator is good or bad with the flick of a switch. Michael Biehn became pretty unreasonable in The Abyss.

The melodramatic undertones must have escaped us because we were on the edge of our seats with each frame of those films. They were perfect Cameron. Action, Character, and Conflict.

It seems when Cameron sets his eyes on “love” we start looking at our watch.

It wasn’t always so! We don’t mind Ed Harris needing to get with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. We certainly don’t mind Sarah and Reese.

The sex scene in Terminator features some fairly cheesy dialog that works fantastically in the reality of the film –and is coincidentally also about as sensitive as we ever want James Cameron to get.

Avatar, outside of the love story, has a very heavy handed villain (or two, or a room, depending on the size of the shot) who is so obviously wrong and so obviously awful that the movie gets painful the more you watch. David Ivy said on Trekcast that the villain needed a cigar –I’ll go further and suggest a twirling mustache and an irrational need to tie blue people to the railroad tracks.

It would have been nice to see Avatar with characters as complicated as the equipment Cameron invented to film it.

But we can’t have everything, right Ed Harris?

Hopefully Cameron will make a musical one day –a spectacular mind-blowing vehicle where his characters can simply break into song to express their simplistic views.

For now, go to Avatar in 3-D and be wowed by how movies will start looking from now on. It’s just amazing to view.

Feel free to bring along your Ipod so you can listen to something a little more thoughtful while you watch. The lips won’t match up to your favorite songs, but it’s the closest to a musical you’re going to get.

James Cameron’s Avatar
Final Grade: fko

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  • AprilHebert

    You nailed it, darlin’. Humans (and non-humans, I’m sure) are ever so much more complicated than Cameron and many of his contemporaries portray. Gotta admit, though–it was incredible to look at! If Cameron had put the amount of time into the story that he did into creating Pandora—well, he’d probably still be working on the damn movie. Gotta take what you can get, I guess…

  • Steve

    It’s really more “Pocahantas” in space than “Dances with Wolves” (see something a friend found that I reposted over in Facebook) but, yeah, I agree with April. Nailed it. I just rewatched “Titanic” and it is not as bad and also not as good as I remembered. It mostly falls apart in the romance which is a bit *gak* inducing. And Billy Zane also needs a better British dialect and a maustache for twirling.

    The melodrama of “Avatar” keeps it from being a “Best” picture but we’ll see.

  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com Pizza Girl

    On the positive side those glass projection/touch screens were really cool, especially when he grabbed the brain image off a screen and threw it onto his tablet. Reminded me a bit of a current-technology imagining of the the tablets that they carried around in TNG. I hope they’re not really glass, because I’d end up breaking a bunch of them before they decided that I was too much of a hazard to allow on their space-ship/Pandora outpost.

    And “pretty” is not an excuse for stealing my $14 and 3 hours.

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