Avatar – The Movie, The Discussion

January 14, 2010 at 5:25 am (Other) (, , , , , , , )


It kind of amazes me the number of blogs I’ve visited just in the last four days that still have Avatar as a major discussion point.  Admittedly, I really loved the movie (flaws and all) but the movie is beside the point. What really is interesting is how much discussion this movie has generated before its release and continues to generate weeks after its release.   Everyone seems to have an opinion and it is ranging from how brilliant and amazing this movie was, how mind blowingly unique and stunning, etc, etc, to how pedestrian the story was and how bland the characters seem, etc, etc.  Love it or hate it, everyone is still talking about it.

Wouldn’t everyone just love that much discussion about their own writing, whether it be good or bad?

The main arguments for Avatar being amazing (that I’ve come across) are:

  • Visually stunning
  • Dramatic
  • Cool action sequences
  • Characters who become beloved by the end of the movie (though that is a very debatable issue)

The main arguments for Avatar being somewhat underwhelming seem to be:

  • The story is not original (though I’d love to ask what movie anyone has seen recently that has had an original story line)
  • There is an over reliance on special effects
  • The characters are flat and uninteresting
  • Neytiri crying (apparently some people found the sound of her grief irritating – I can’t imagine why. I thought everyone loved ear splitting shrieks)

I loved Avatar. I know the story is not particularly original.  There are moments during it where you could almost swear you were watching a more sophisticated version of Fern Gully (particularly when the forest starts lighting up underfoot) and there are no surprises in the plot. The characters are not fantastic. They are archetypes that are barely fleshed out and in many stories that would annoy me but it isn’t a deal breaker with Avatar. Yes, it is visually amazing, and I really want one of those glowy, spinny, lizard things because they are so cute but that wasn’t why I loved it.

I loved Avatar because it is a strong story, well put together.  Each scene and each character serves a very specific purpose and they all work. You are swept up in the story, you follow along, the tension builds, you reach the climax and you are satisfied with the resolution. That to me is a successful story and the visual effects simple support the story and help to make you believe in a world that couldn’t possibly exist.

For me, the worst part of Avatar wasn’t the storyline, it was the slight extension on so many sequences and scenes just so they could show off the visual effects for that little bit longer than necessary. Look at each of the flight sequences.  Every single one could have been shortened (whether they were in helicopters or on the dragon things) without changing the story in any way.

I am now jumping off the Avatar bandwagon. I’ve watched it twice and I’ve read so many discussions about it and now I’ve posted my own thoughts and I am putting it to rest until the DVD comes out. I would however like to know what you think about Avatar and the ongoing debates about the movies ‘greatness’.

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24 Comments

  1. C. said,

    Actually, I’d say it’s almost a remake of Disney’s Pocahontas…

    But visually stunning. Acting was good enough to draw me in. But that’s that. It’s not LOTR.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I actually liked this more than LOTR mostly because it was shorter and so didn’t feel quite so drawn out. It definitely explored the same theme as Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves and a lot of other movies and I know it has been criticised for that. Thanks for sharing your view.

      • N. Mahana said,

        I agree that it was visually stunning but the fact that so many people see the parallels to Pocahontas and DWW is indication enough of its below average storyline.

        I fell to sleep at one point and woke up just as the action was building again. I felt the script was beyond weak. It’s an imbalanced film with most of the effort being directed toward the visuals and very little to substance.

  2. Sapphira said,

    I thought avatar was the best movie ever. Even though I’ve heard that’s a little like pocohontas, it’s still a fantastic sci fi /action movie. 😀 Sapphira

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Best movie ever?
      Still, it was very entertaining.

      • Sapphira said,

        Well with all the special effects and such. Made it a completley believeable film. I ended up crying at the end

  3. Carol Warner said,

    I haven’t seen Pocahontas, so I can’t compare. All I can say is that I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed it. And I can’t wait to see it again 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think I enjoyed it more the second time because the first time I was mostly dazzled and the second I could actually pay attention to the characters in the background.

  4. Jodi Cleghorn said,

    Like you Cassandra – I’m amazed at the amount of discussion it is spawning both on and off the net – and how everyone has their own unique take on it.

    As a writer I was captivated by Pandora – not just because it was visually stunning but the fact it was such a simiple concept – taking the reef (I grew up not far from the Great Barrier Reef – where the reef meets the rainforest) and creating a rainforest from basic elements of the reef. I saw someone else comment that the creatures (the nasty ones) were reminiscent of Nausicaa (I mentioned to my partner on the way home – the parallels I saw between those two movies).

    My partner worked as a geologist in Africa, so we ended up being more interested in discussing thematic aspects of the movie. The two ritual scenes at the tree – my partner swears he’s seen the exact same ritual around a tree on a doco.

    Anyway – there are far worse movies out there and kudos to Cameron for creating a cinematic piece which has got everyone talking.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      It really is amazing how varied the opinions are on this movie – if nothing else it has served as a major discussion point for people about a variety of issues.

  5. andrewhayett said,

    Ugh I don’t like Avatar. Those blue men look hideous. Even Master Yoda looks better than them. Why all this fuss over Avatar? Only because it’s the shiny new toy? No offense, that’s just my opinion. I just won’t spend a penny on Avatar. There are better movies out there.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Titanic was the same though when it came out. Lots of discussion, lots of hype and lots of criticism.

  6. Nikki Hahn said,

    Not going to see it. I loved Lord of the Rings, Alice, and Narnia because they were real-looking people. You could relate to them, but when I saw the previews of Avatar, I just couldn’t rationalize budgeting the money for the movie. It looks like a video game. I’ve heard all the discussions and debates, too. I agree…there are better movies out there. :o)

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I can see your point. I know a few people who felt the same and thought the ‘blue’ people were just creepy looking. I didn’t see that myself but I’m a sci-fi/fantasy fan and I love things to look a little off.

  7. Carol J. Garvin said,

    The trailer was enough for me. I’m not a sci-fi fan to start with so all the special effects were wasted on me. I long for a really well written contemporary story that doesn’t have to depend on special effects, horror or violence to keep me hooked.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I was trying to think of any movie I had seen recently that fit your no dependence on special effects, horror or violence and I couldn’t think of a single one. That is kind of sad.

  8. survivalguru said,

    I agree I wish people would comment on our writings like that..only the few that do are the ones that follow, I on the other hand have gotten many hate mails…for my writings and has brought me down lately, I can’t shake it. People are so mean sometimes. They are our thoughts and writings why can’t people say nothing is they nothing nice to say.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think it depends how you say it. You can really dislike avatar and still engage in friendly and polite conversation about it, meanwhile pointing out all the flaws with it.

  9. survivalguru said,

    By the way,,,,I loved AVATAR

  10. catwoods said,

    I haven’t seen it, but now I feel I must.

  11. SaintAsh said,

    You know, I think I’ve finally figured out why I flat-out hate Avatar: it’s a bad movie if you want to have some thinking with your entertainment. As others have pointed out, the storyline and character types are so familiar that there was no mystery as to how it would all play out. So, no need to hold onto scenes like clues and guess what would happen next (half of the fun with Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is wondering how Blackwood could do what he did).

    As for the worldbuilding, it was gorgeous but fragile. As soon as I began studying it, things broke down. For example, how could the Na’avi wear feathers in their hair if all the flying creatures have leathery wings?

    I like thinking about a movie as I watch it, studying it from a writer’s perspective and digging for symbolism, meaning, etc. Avatar’s themes bug me, to be honest. On the surface, its messages seem like good ones: don’t destroy the environment, realize you’re a part of nature, not its keeper, etc. But there’s something kind of devious about an outsider becoming the savior for the Noble Savage race, isn’t there? They have the perfect lifestyle, but they can’t save themselves. Hm.

    That’s my take on it, anyway. I totally get why so many people enjoy it — watching a movie is as personal as reading a book. We’re all going to bring our own likes and dislikes to it. Avatar’s just a really bad fit of what I look for in a movie.

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  13. Geoffrey Stokker said,

    As the credits started to roll on Avatar I turned to my brother-in-law and asked him if he enjoyed Pocahantas 2. It’s been a very long time since I have been this bored in a cinema. About halfway through I pulled out my cellphone and started to communicate with the outside world.

    I heard that there was a dodgy storyline but the graphics were brilliant before I went but I wanted to keep an open mind and judge it for myself. Well, I found it to be a horrible, horrible movie and I cannot understand the praise which is being heaped on it.

    The graphics and special effects were brilliant but everything else just fell flat around the whole movie. When hardcore Marine (whose name I can’t even remember) rolls out on the planet, a BIG dump truck rolls past with arrows in its tires and you think ‘cool’. But you have to watch basically until twenty minutes from the end of the movie before you have a fight scene. The arrows promised action and all I got was a movie which preached about how humans are bad and the natives are good. And then the mineral… unobtainium… what a pathetic name. Called that because it’s so hard to obtain? No sh*t.

    And in the case of modern Hollywood there are tie-in products to go with the movie like a PS3 game. If it was really based that closely on the movie 99% would be the tutorial on how to move and fight, etc.

    I watched it in 3D so the graphics were awesome (although when you are away from humans it looks like it could have been a PIXAR movie but not as fun) but there was nothing else to the movie at all. I didn’t feel anything for the characters and they could have all jumped off a cliff and I wouldn’t have cared less. I didn’t feel a thing when the helicopter exploded with the pilot still in there (I can’t remember her name).

    It was a special effects movie and it should have cut out the middle after the cripple arrived and the big fight at the end.

    If I had to rate it, Avatar would only get a 1/10 and that’s only because of the special effects.

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