LabRat vs. Avatar

April 27, 2010 - 5:35 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
Comments Off

So, I finally got around to seeing James Cameron’s shiny, shiny story of awesome blue cat-people in space versus human marines. It would be something of an understatement to say that I did not like it. I will grant it was a rather unique experience in that it made me furious from a diverse array of political perspectives, however.

A disclaimer: Yes, I know it was very pretty, and I probably would have been visually enthralled had I seen it in a theater. I did not see it in a theater. I saw it when the other artist in my tattoo studio decided that that would be what played on the shop TV during my and another fellow’s session, as apparently both he and Jason are of the “works better with something blowing up in the background” school. I sympathize, as I used to do homework with James Bond movies on in the background for this very reason. However, it also turned the experience of the movie from something I watched on a very large screen in comfort with popcorn, which puts me in a forgiving sort of mood, into something I watched on a rather small screen while Jason spent all three hours of it drilling on me, followed by a 90 minute car trip spent brooding on the movie rather than the throbbing in my leg. This did not put me in a forgiving sort of mood.

So, if you liked it, or feel it was awesome just as long as you remember not to take it seriously, this is probably not going to be the post for you, as I am about to take it spleen-bustingly seriously. Archives are to your right.

Before I start bitching, I want to make one point very clear: I did not invent any of the parallels I’m about to draw. The movie makes them explicitly, anvil-to-your-face definite and James Cameron backs them up in interviews. The movie is about imperialistic, technologically superior cultures beating up on indigenous cultures over resources, which in human history has mostly been white Europeans beating up on Africans and Native Americans. (Or at least, it has been from a European perspective, which Avatar is most *definitely* written from.) The Na’vi are stated in interviews to be our “aspirational selves” while the human space marines are stated to be our “self-destructive side”. Several visual and script references and parallels are made to Native American tribes and conflicts with Europeans and Americans, and African cultures. I ain’t reading anything in, it was written in: space marines = white imperialists, blue cat people = melanistic native people, and the cat-people are just plain better than the humans.

So, let’s talk about the plot. We don’t really need to be concern ourselves with spoilers, as the entire thing is played out in the trailers for the movie and absolutely nothing happens that any human who had been exposed to anything Hollywood has put out in the last seventy years would be remotely surprised by. Crippled soldier in a dystopian universe becomes part of a program designed to convince peaceful native people to move off a desired resource, science fiction elements ensue in which he is accepted among them and learns their ways, he falls in love with and nails the daughter of the tribal chief, the space marines and the evil corporation they’re working for get impatient and decide to wipe out the natives if they won’t move voluntarily, a giant drama bomb strikes the natives and the hero’s love life, he goes to redeem himself and save the native tribes by becoming a great warrior and new leader of the tribe, as all the previous ones and their successors have been killed off in the process.

This is Mighty Whitey the movie, the biggest and shiniest and most painfully straight version ever made. In literally three months, the protagonist of the movie- who only gains that status due to having more screen and story time than anyone else, as he is every bit as interesting as paint drying on a wall- goes from having the tribal nickname “Moron” to being way more awesome at being a Na’vi than any other Na’vi living and all but one or two dead.

A major plot point in the movie is that when they become adults and fully-fledged hunters of the tribe, they bond with a flying dragon thing as their inseparable animal companion, which of course is accomplished by jumping it, having a big fight, and then sticking their USB cables into its brain until it calms down. Later on while flying around, they meet a much bigger dragon thing that they have to escape from, which the tribal chieftain’s daughter dutifully explains later has only been tamed and bonded with by a few of the tribe’s great chiefs in history, who later on go on to unite the tribes and do… something, if they bothered to explain why this was done or what results it gained was I was preoccupied. I kind of doubt they did, as plot points in this movie mostly exist to explain the next one.

Later on in the movie, the hero and a mentorish character are revealed as agents of the “Sky People” right before said Sky People come in and blow the living shit out of the Na’vi’s home tree. There is a very big and very sad scene where the tribal chieftain gets killed by a flying plot device and his daughter screams her lungs out at the hero, naturally feeling a mite betrayed after the love story. It’s a pretty bad moment, seeing as how he was deceiving them the whole time, isn’t even the same species as his love interest, and his actual species has just come in and rained firey death on his hosts.

There are more problems for both the Na’vi and the protagonist due to the love triangle plot. The Na’vi have arranged marriages, and since such things are usually conducted along lines of social status, of course the chief’s daughter is betrothed to the young warrior next in line to lead the tribe. Naturally no one has any problem with her spending all her time with the hero right up until she mates with him and seals their bond before the eyes of God (kind of literally, actually). It’s a fairly big deal and probably would have caused a lot of drama had the marines not interrupted with gunships.

How does the hero resolve both his relationship troubles and the shattered bond of trust between himself and his adoptive tribe? Do you really have to ask? He goes out and jumps on the big dragon thing and flies back to the Na’vi with his epic mount, thus impressing the superstitious natives and solving everything.

And it really does solve all of those problems. His love interest forgives him instantly. The rest of the tribe immediately accepts that this means he’s really on their side. As for the guy who WAS going to lead the tribe as the chieftain’s successor and whose betrothed he just swooped in on, he forgives the hero too the second the hero tells him he’s a great warrior and he can’t succeed without him. (No evidence of this whatsoever has been given so far, as this guy’s entire role has been alternately guffawing and scowling.)

The hero takes his great big dragon and impresses all the other Na’vi tribes and unites them to fight against the space marines. He has a touching moment with his tentacle in the world tree representing the Na’vi’s god (which is somewhat literal) praying for victory and questioning said god’s existence at once. There is a massive flying-dragons-and-arrows-versus-gunships battle that even I was diverted by while it was going on, and when things seem to be going as inevitably terrible for the arrows and dragons side as you’d think, the planet decides it’s had about enough and sics all the wildlife on the marines, thus turning the tide of battle. The Na’vi boot the surviving marines and their corporate master off the planet*, and the planet-god turns the hero permanently into a Na’vi via… means. Mass prayer plus USB.

It was really the uniting-the-tribes scene that took me from cheerily snarking at a bad movie while being tattooed that I went from that frame of mind to being simply furious with the movie. Just in case I’d missed the earlier parallels, the hero makes an explicit reference to recruiting the “horse peoples of the plains”. There are no horses on Pandora, though there are horselike creatures, which prior to that point had been called by their own name and never referred to as “horses”. There are no plains that we’ve seen, though we can probably take the movie’s word that there are, somewhere, plains. What it is is an explicit elbow to the viewers’ ribs to the American Plains Indians, the nomadic tribes of which adopted horses more thoroughly than any other native group and eventually defined their culture around them.

That was when it hit me: I was watching the movie’s version of the ghost dance, and that the subsequent battle would be Wounded Knee- only this time led by a white guy instead of a native. And, naturally, successful this time. Not merely because this time it was a white guy in a blue suit. Because the white guy in the blue suit had been, for no reason shown or suggested, chosen by God as more worthy than anyone else to save the Na’vi and lead the people. There’s nothing that fantastic about Jake Sully as Na’vi go, except he’s better at everything they do than they are and God just likes him more. No unfortunate racial or historical implications here WHATSOEVER.

This would make me less angry if it weren’t for the fact that it would have been easy to retain the story almost entirely as it was and have one of the Na’vi be the one to jump the dragon, lead the people, and act out the planetary god’s plans. Nothing about the story made it actually necessary for the hero to have that role as well as his role as the outsider and traitor-for-a-just-cause; it was simply assumed implicitly by the writers that the viewers would like the story more as “white guy dominates the natives the nice way and they love him for it”. It also would have been easy for him to show live-savingly superior skill at combat or tactics by virtue of his outside perspective and knowledge of the marines- but he doesn’t. He does everything the Na’vi way, just better.

Something else backing the human hero’s role up a bit and beefing up a Na’vi’s would have accomplished is correct another problem with the story with some unfortunate implications: there are really only two Na’vi, sorted by gender and plot purpose. Male native people Na’vi are Angry Warrior Guy. Female Na’vi are Temperamental Spiritual Chick. (The “hot-blooded” kind of temperamental in the case of the fuckable ones, the scary kind in the ones too old for that.) The Na’vi aren’t really characters, they’re a series of talking plot devices- which is, again, very unfortunate in a movie whose explicit premise is a science fiction conflict between Euro-American imperialists and an indigenous tribe. It’s well and good to write about the natives winning their just cause in contrast to the way history has gone and the imperialist cultural justifications at the time, but if you just trade your Savages in for Noble Savages instead of trying to depict people it really doesn’t wind up working too well.

Of course, the marines don’t really fare much better when it comes to being depicted as people. Cameron has created a very literal “military-industrial complex” to be the villains in his movie; it’s never explained WHY, but the marines, including their badass commander, are taking all their orders from a smarmy corporate guy in a tie. Presumably they’re some sort of mercenary force, but all the “ooh-rah” and customary marine jargon is kept intact, rather implying that Cameron thinks this is the way things already are. (Said commander going on to babble about “shock and awe” tactics and battling the “terror” of the Na’vi rather ham-handedly shores this up.) Needless to say, when the order goes out to just slaughter the Na’vi, the marines all cheer except for one who’s had contact with the scientists researching the planet, who are the only sympathetic humans besides the hero in the movie.

Really, the one marine who does join the hero in defending the Na’vi is the only character I could really sympathize with in the entire movie. The hero just wants to become one of the Na’vi, which is also basically true of all the scientist characters, who spent the entire first half of the movie pouring contempt on the marines, including the hero. Trudy the gunship pilot doesn’t want to be a Na’vi and doesn’t hate her own species, she joins the rebels solely because killing helpless people is wrong. As she was not fucking the hero and doesn’t want to be a Na’vi, needless to say she does not survive the movie.

I could rant on about some of its other unfortunate messages- like “curiosity is bad and parochialism is good if you’re already awesome”, “any knowledge you don’t intuit or receive from tradition and god is worthless and potentially dangerous”, and “violence is bad unless you’re shooting strangers you don’t recognize”- but I’ve gone on for more than two thousand words now and I think I’m about ranted out.

Also, I want a giant battle suit. And to be able to substitute rage for oxygen. Seriously, that climactic battle scene was freaking cool anyway.

*Missing from the movie for plot reasons is the suggestion that sending your technologically superior and extremely pissed off enemies into space, which is full of giant rocks they have the means to drop on your head, can be an extremely poor tactical decision.

No Responses to “LabRat vs. Avatar”

  1. Nick Says:

    Yeah, but you didn’t see it in the theater in 3d…not that it changes the epic fails in the plot, writing, etc. It’s just the first movie I’ve seen where the 3d carried the movie, instead of being a somewhat dizzying, nauseating hindrance to an otherwise worthwhile endeavor as the 3d effects have tended to be in other films.

  2. Angela Says:

    Agree, agree, agree, and seeing it in theater, in 3D, would not have made a difference. I have never seen a 3D movie where I thought to myself, “Wow, that was awesome and could never have been experienced in 2D!” and Avatar was no different.

  3. Suisan Says:

    Oh, I heartily agree, LabRat. However, one small note….

    I absolutely LOVED the “bad guy” of a former Active Duty Marine Colonel! I mean, heck, that was one of the BEST performances of a Marine by a Non-Marine that I have seen since Jack Nicholson’s performance in A Few Good Men!

    Besides, the darn tree huggers and the others had it coming.

  4. Kevin Baker Says:

    I was able to turn off the analysis part and enjoy the pretty pictures in my review.

    I did note the same thing you did in the end, though.

  5. Kevin Baker Says:

    One other thing, you being a biologist type I’d like a comment from on: why is the Na’vi species the only (apparently mammalian) one on the planet that isn’t six-limbed? EVERY other species on the planet seems to be.

  6. Silverevilchao Says:

    I admit, I enjoyed the movie when I actually watched it (I’m a sucker for good art direction/very detailed and elaborate worlds), but afterwards, the Fridge Logic started pouring in, especially when I realized how many tropes I was able to successfully call while I was watching the movie (here’s a hint: all of them except Death By Sex).

    And then I just got more and more pissed off the more I thought about it.

    The only thing I disagreed with in your post was referring to the Nav’i as cat people. Those ears and the long necks SCREAM “horse” to me.

    At least there was Colonel Badass. So badass that I found myself rooting for me despite being a genocidal asshole, so badass that his giant robot has a freaking prog knife!!

  7. Kelley Says:

    Frankly the movie is best viewed with the sound off. It’s pretty and Cameron spent $300mil getting CGI Mammery Jiggle done Perfectly (Money well spent!).

  8. Amy Says:

    I had zero desire to see Avatar and not because Jame Cameron is the biggest meepin’ hypocrite EVER!

    Being a historian, I have a tendency to get annoyed when people who are clueless warp history to fit their own warped views. (Yeah, yeah, so I don’t go to the movies very often)

    After reading your splendid review, I am happy I never saw it. I think I would have left the theatre had I had to sit through that mess.

    However, at least there was something for the men….CGI Mammery Jiggle indeed! *g*

  9. DaveH Says:

    My only observation is where do the feathers come from.

    The Nav’i use them for adornment but I didn’t see a single avian in the movie. All the fliers were either insects or reptiles.

    As you say, a very pretty movie and I am glad that I saw it in 3D but… It is just a retelling of Joe Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

  10. LabRat Says:

    Kevin: Well, like I said… I wasn’t exactly viewing the thing at its finest or at mine. Even so though, I’m rarely that impressed by visuals- I’ll forgive a movie *tons* if it’s clear everyone’s having fun, but not as much for being visually stunning but fatuous. Especially when its self-impressed politics are actively racist.

    As for the hexapodal other life and the four-limbed Na’vi, I bitched the ear off my tattoo artist about it, who was somewhat nonplussed even though he’s now been drawing biologically accurate things on me for a year now and is going on for another project. It just seemed like such a minor complaint compared to the rest.

  11. Old NFO Says:

    Meh- just one more reason for me not to waste my $$… Interesting side note- I’m overseas right now, and was in the Exchange today. They have a rack of probably 60 Avatar movies, and have only sold 3-4 of them since it came out according to the video area manager… Appears the military is voting with their pocketbooks (e.g. NOT buying)…

  12. wrm Says:

    There’s only one reason to see the thing and that’s 3D.

    And even then, if it’s the choice between Avatar and, for example, Up, go for the animated one.

    Up made its way to my DVD shelf, and probably will do so again in 3D Blueray whenever that becomes mainsteamingly affordable… Avatar never will.

  13. Holly Says:

    I like to pretend that Unobtainium is valuable to the humans because it will save millions of innocent lives. It makes the whole story a bit more nuanced.

    And yeah, I couldn’t believe that white guy’s amazing solution to “only three of our bravest have conquered the big dragon thing” was “gosh, have you tried jumping on them?”

    Or that the Na’vi would gather by the hundreds and go to extraordinary measures to try and resurrect Sigourney Weaver, when they were surrounded by the bodies of their OWN dead and wounded.

  14. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it (Sorry for the drive-by, new job) but I wanted to throw this link into the mix.

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/bighollywood/2010/01/16/
    james-cameron-i-believe-in-eco-terrorism/

  15. phlegmfatale Says:

    Moneyfest destiny.

  16. Ish Says:

    I “enjoy” deflating the hopes and dreams of the Avatar fanboy/cult by pointing out that the Navi are, quite obviously, equally as alien to Pandora as the humans.

    All pandoran animal life is insectoid or reptilian. All reptilian life on pandoran is hexapedal, has more than one pair of eyes, dual USB tendrils, and no visual sexual dimorphism.

    The Navi have four limbs, two eyes, one USB cable, obvious sexual characteristics, and are mammalian. (IIRC, at one point a nursing mother is visible in the background.)

    The navi simply conquered the moon first, had better genetic engineering, and then “went native.”

    The humans, meanwhile, are clearly the morally superior culture. No ethnic divisions (navi are tribal), no sexism (navi have strict gender roles), no aparent religious dominace (there is no god but the tree, and sully is it’s prophet), and come from a democratic/republican society instead of a monarchist/tribal elder/theocratic one…

  17. Samantha Says:

    I went into viewing this movie as “oooh shinypretty”, and didn’t allow another intelligent thought through the whole deal. I think that’s the only way to *enjoy* it.
    (I admit- I am a TV/Movie bimbo and shy away from intelligent entertainment. I need that 90 mins or whatever to shut down.)

  18. Tam Says:

    Yeah, that was my beef, too:

    At first the noble savages spurn our big hero and treat him like a child, but then at a critical moment he suddenly dives through a giant plot hole to tame the wild deus ex machina and win their undying loyalty in the middle of the movie, since apparently none of the wogs had thought of doing what he did, despite him being a total novice to their granola-munching, Gaia-lovin’, jungle-dwelling ways. The aliens are intriguing, but my intrigue kept getting interrupted by the way the movie whipsaws violently between worshiping them and patronizing them. I’d have rather seen a straight up Nature Channel documentary shot on the planet instead of Pocahontas Does Polyphemus.

  19. Midwest Chick Says:

    I haven’t seen Avatar (last movie I saw in a theater was the Casino Royale update), mainly due to the pans from those whose judgment I trust in such things (Tam, etc.) but being an inked chick myself, I’m more curious about the art you got and if the annoyance at the movie kept your endorphins going more than usual.

  20. Tam Says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that I saw it on the big screen in 3D. It was quite an experience just for the eye candy.

    I won’t be shelling out for the vidjo, though, not even cheap and secondhand.

  21. LabRat Says:

    Tam- a review I laughed at at the time and would have laughed at even harder if, at the time, I’d had the slightest clue what you were talking about plotwise. You got there first and better.

    MC- this project will be finally finished next month and pics will go up then. And I guess it must have, because the session ran about twenty minutes longer than the movie did, and BOY was I in a world of hurt then…

  22. Sigivald Says:

    Pity Cameron seems to leave out the 5 minute sequel where the natives “nuke from orbit, as ’tis the only way to be certain” (James Cameron has no excuse for missing that angle!) or have giant rocks dropped on them.

    The Natives cannot ever win against a spaceborne enemy, unless there’s some magical reason you aren’t allowed to simply annihilate them from orbit.

    I bet that unobtanium would be ever easier to extract with a giant crater…

  23. perlhaqr Says:

    Having not seen the movie, I ask those who have. Aren’t the Space Marines actually the Bad Guys, from a property rights perspective?

  24. Tam Says:

    It’s hard to get a proper Wookie-suited hate on for 2D bad guys in a 3D movie.

  25. LabRat Says:

    Perl: they are. They’re just such transparently cardboard villains you tend to want to cheer for them out of sheer spite at the insult to your intelligence.

    That, and the somewhat more problematic factor that Colonel Bloodthirsty or whatever his name is by far the most interesting character to watch in the movie. When your villian is that much more fun to see on screen than your hero…

  26. Tam Says:

    When your villian is that much more fun to see on screen than your hero…

    Whoah! Waterworld flashback!

  27. Silverevilchao Says:

    Colonel Badass has several badass points in the movie. There’s one scene where he shoots at our valiant heroes in Pandora’s open (toxic) air without a mask and emerges unscathed because he was holding his breath the entire time (there’s also the fact that in that same scene, he successfully shoots Riple–Signourney Weaver, who later dies because of that wound).

    And then there’s the scene where the guy is ON FIRE but proceeds to put it out, get into his giant robot, and jumps out of an exploding airship.

    And then there’s the fact that his robot has a prog knife. IT HAS A FREAKING PROG KNIFE FROM EVANGELION.

  28. Antibubba Says:

    A quarter of a BILLION dollars on new technologies to make it happen. $19.95 on the script.

    It’s that simple.

  29. Jim Says:

    Seems the Colonels are getting all the interesting roles: Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, wossname Austrian fellow in Inglorious Bastards (sp?), wossname wossname in Avatar, etc.

    Coincidence?

    Jim

  30. WindRider Says:

    “Not merely because this time it was a white guy in a blue suit. Because the white guy in the blue suit had been, for no reason shown or suggested, chosen by God as more worthy than anyone else to save the Na’vi and lead the people. There’s nothing that fantastic about Jake Sully as Na’vi go, except he’s better at everything they do than they are and God just likes him more. No unfortunate racial or historical implications here WHATSOEVER.”

    Oh, it’s about Obama then?

  31. Tam Says:

    Jeff Cooper in Real Life:D

  32. Nick P. Says:

    I remember reading somewhere about the research that went into designing the starship the humans came to the planet in, it’s one of the areas where the filmmakers actually hired someone who did their damn home work. On the Earth to Pandora leg of the journey it uses a light-sail that is pushed by a giant laser array back in Sol, to decelerate at Pandora and to return to Earth the ship has antimatter rockets.

    Now while I haven’t done the math, if my understanding of the scale of the energies involved is correct then they won’t have to drop rocks or nukes or whatever, all they’d have to do is just point the ship at the surface and fire the rockets full throttle to begin toasting vast swaths of the planet.

    It’s going to be ‘interesting’ to see how they’ll ham-fist around those sorts of issues if they decide to make “Humans are Bastards the Movie 2″ considering that it should be over in less than five minutes.

  33. Midwest Chick Says:

    Tam–eye candy is good!
    LabRat–can’t wait for pics

    Why is it that some of the worst movies have some of the best bad guys, do you think??

  34. perlhaqr Says:

    *nod*

    Like I say, I haven’t seen it. And I’m pretty sure Captain Caveman Cameron wasn’t intending to make an anarchocapitalist movie about defending property rights from encroaching government / corporate alliances. ;) I just figured I’d ask. :)

  35. Leit Says:

    Bad guys are more interesting because they’re enjoying themselves, or at least, the actors are. See: Gary Oldman in pretty much anything, the Sheriff in Robin Hood: prince of thieves, etc.

    They’re also not held back by having to be a blank-eyed slack-jawed audience surrogate. Even Gordon Freeman has more personality than “Jeksooly”, and to my knowledge he’s never spoken a word.

  36. Eric Hammer Says:

    Honestly, the 3D doesn’t help much. I saw it with my wife and friends in “OMFG 3D IMAX-o-GASM!” and the questionable 3D actually ruined a lot of the visuals. Might just have been bad 3D glasses vs. corrective lenses issues, but it really didn’t do anything interesting enough to make the plot stomachable. Might be a fun drunk/high movie… maybe. Perhaps instead of 3D glasses they should have handed out qualudes.

    Two other things that really irked me about the movie, beyond your excellent summary, is that the whole “We can build cross species surrogate bodies for people” wasn’t the most amazing thing, and the fact that every freaking critter for some reason had USB ports and the only parasites that used them were the blue people.
    For the first one, how the hell does no one think that isn’t the coolest thing EVER! And why do they have pilots physically in their planes and robots when they can pilot a flesh-bot from apparently forever away from the safety of a tube? Why not just have 10,000 snake humans wired up, slither into the tree, and bite all the damned blue people?
    As to the USB thing, what possible benefit do animals gain from that, and why are there not mocking bird-esque parasites that fly over, latch onto the equivalent of a pig or sheep, and use it as a milk slave to raise their offspring? Even a USB tick that latches on, starts drinking and convinces the host “Hey, it’s cool that I am here. Can you scratch behind my 4th leg? Thanks.” I understand they were going for the au natural version of robots and attack helicopters, but they could have at least had the Na’vi had more aggressive requirements, like having to burrow their connector into the animal’s brain to take it over.

    It is hard to merely say “There was SO much wrong with that movie” when it rapidly approaches “There is everything wrong with that movie.”

  37. LOL | Extreme Tolerance Says:

    […] LOL April 29th, 2010 by Admin Leave a reply » Mass prayer plus USB. […]

  38. Rick C Says:

    “They’re just such transparently cardboard villains.”

    Hey. That statement is offensive to actual cardboard cutouts.

  39. Rick C Says:

    Also, “Presumably they’re some sort of mercenary force”

    Yes. They mentioned that at the beginning, as Jake got off the ship. They were military on earth, “but here, they’re just mercs.” Line delivered by Jake, too.

    Hey, wasn’t the protagonist from Born on the 4th of July in a wheelchair too?

  40. thebastidge Says:

    Gaia. In a nutshell, no parasites because the entire planet lives in harmony, peace, and love, nevermind that the blue people are hunters. You didn’t see anything here, time to move along.

  41. TimP Says:

    My “theory” that explains the fact that they managed to combine human and Na’Vi DNA to make the Avatars, and the fact that many of the local animals have the USB ports, but the Na’Vi seem to be the only things that use them is that the Na’Vi are actually the descendants of genetically engineered human colonists.

    It’s stated at one point by Sully that all the natural areas on earth had been destroyed, so I think that must have been some sort of major disaster or nuclear war, which is why the colony hasn’t been in contact with Earth for so long.

    Also I like the think it was the Pandoran’s themselves who nuked Earth, and then switched to the “primitive” life due to the guilt. This would also explain why the Marines are so un-sympathetic. The Na’Vi even have a time somewhere in the past that they refer to as the “Time of Sorrows” which could be the period surrounding the nuclear war.

  42. Jake Says:

    oh no. Link to TVTropes.

    TVTropes, even more so than Wikipedia has a supercritical link ratio – namely, for every page on there I visit, I will click more than one outbound link to open in a new tab.

    see you in six weeks.

  43. Vaarok Says:

    Despoilers of the Golden Empire was far better. Shame it wasn’t actually scifi. Somebody should make Col. McBadass t-shirts.

  44. Oakenheart Says:

    Anyone notice that the floating mountains were stolen from WoW? Nagrand anyone? And the airships stolen from Halo?

  45. Justin Says:

    To answer the question upthread about why the Na’vi only have four limbs, and differ widely from the rest of the wildlife on Pandora, I offer this:

    They wouldn’t have been fuckable if they were consistently designed to match up with all the other critters on the planet.

    FWIW, I saw Avatar in 3D at the theater, and there is no doubt that it is an astounding technological masterpiece. Cameron’s storytelling has never been deep (and has only gotten worse as he’s gotten older) but the man knows how to whip up some high-tech gee-whiz. Likely he’ll make more money off of licensing the use of that technology to other film makers than he made from Avatar.

    I was able to appreciate it on that level at least, but then again, I read a draft of the script several years ago and was pretty much able to brace myself for the stupidity to come.

    The only major difference between the scriptment I read and the final film was the inclusion of the other Na’vi tribes. They also left out a predator that was capable of launching its head like a dart in order to grab prey, which is too bad, because it was easily one of the best gimmicks in the whole story.

    The final film also toned down a lot of the doom-n-gloom about the state of Earth. Originally there was more time spent Earth time (not much, just a couple of pages) and it was pretty well explicitly stated that Earth was dying due to ecological mismanagement and overpopulation. It was stated that the Unobtanium would allow humans to generate very cheap, nearly unlimited energy due to being a room-temperature superconductor.

    But this was left out of the final movie, as blatantly showing that humanity is doomed without the unobtanium was probably deemed to be something that would ruin the fantasy for anyone with an IQ higher than a reheated rutabaga. The only nod to this that’s left in the movie is at the end when the humans are dejectedly boarding their space ship, and Jake Sully says something to the effect of “Go back to your dying world.”

    So, yeah. I’ve always like James Cameron, his movies have always managed to be epic and worth watching, but with this one, he’s disappeared up his own ass so far that the top of his head is probably rubbing against the roof of his mouth.

  46. Justin Says:

    Oh, also, during the scene where the trees are being bulldozed and Neytiri screams out in anguish, I guffawed loud enough to garner several dirty looks from others in the theater.

  47. Man Overboard Says:

    So they’ve mastered interstallar travel yet the best thing they can put up in a fight is an exoskeleton with an exposed pilot (glass cockpit penetrated by arrows?) and a slow moving gunship reminescent of the Huey’s from Vietnam equiped with vulnerable door gunner and exposed pilot? Let’s be honest here, we have better shit than that already and we can barely light a rocket under our asses and blow ourselves into space and even then about 5% die in the process.

    Why would they even put troops on the ground in the first place? I mean it was a bombing run for christ’s sake! The land battle was completely irrelevant and served only to aid Cameron in his self indulgent load blowing effects.

    Of course, your bullshit Indians win battle can’t happen if the weapon technology matches the transportation technology. To quote Mrs. Weaver: “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit…only way to be sure.”

    For the love of pete, even the Ewoks taking out the ATST’s was more beleivable.

  48. staghounds Says:

    Ten minutes of the pretty was enough for me- I snuck in from the next theatre.

    Because no matter how pretty he/she is, eventually you have to talk.

    The technology will be used on a better movie soon, and until then I can go look at real life in 3 dimensions.