My review of Avatar:
$300 million Ferngully meets Dances With Wolves. I said it. Also, Sigourney’s avatar creeped me out almost as much as the dialogue bummed me out.
Don’t get me wrong–I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it either, and it’s not completely because it didn’t live up to the hype. It’s because people are willing to give it a free pass because of the effects. Others will certainly call on the success and continued debate of Cameron’s other films to justify this one, but that’s kind of bunk. I think Titanic’s success was so great, because it was driven by Leo DiCaprio-era Twihards (Tihards, DiHards?) and liteFM Celine Dion fanatics (DiHards2? DiHarder?…heh). And what did Cameron do? Duplicate the best archetypal bits of Titanic, including topping it off with a meh ballad by a new Dion, Leona Lewis’ I See You, and ripping off other movies. Allow me to present my case:
Titanic characters in Avatar
- Sam Worthington as the hunky ne’er do well that gets a chance ticket to the main setting (Jack)
- Zoe Saldana as the princess dying for a little freedom from her societal duties…care of a certain ne’er do well (Rose)
- Sigourney Weaver as the dedicated scientist striving to celebrate and conserve, generally underused throughout the film (Brock Lovett)
- Stephen Lang as the evil to the core person (Rose’s mom, Ruth Dewitt Bukater)
- Michelle Rodriguez as the sassy lady with a penchant for going her own way in a man’s world and justness (Molly Brown)
- Giovanni Ribisi as the greedy, self absorbed, privileged scoff/bigot that cares for nothing but his prize (Cal Hockley)
Also, Ribisi and Rodriguez will live on as the best bits of the movie– as in Kathy Bates (Molly Brown) was one of the best supporting characters and Billy Zane (Cal Hockley) was the “OMG remember that guy!” of Titanic.
Jimmy Cameron didn’t stop there:
Plot for Ferngully: The magical fairy people of Ferngully have never seen humans before, but Christa falls for one anyway (Zak), even though he is part of a logging team who is there to cut down the forest. Zak via magic gets shrunk to fairy size and goes native–discovering the beauty of nature. The big bad is Hexxus, an evil oil-like creature that has taken over “The Leveler,” a logging machine as he begins his evil scheme to destroy the magical forest. Only Zak, Crysta, and a rag tag team of fools can defeat Hexxus and save Ferngully from destruction.
Plot for Dances with Wolves: Sent to a remote outpost during a time of political strife (read: the Civil War), Lieutenant John Dunbar encounters, and is eventually accepted into, the local Sioux tribe. He falls for the beautiful “Stands With a Fist”, who teaches him the ways of the tribe as he gradually he sheds Whitey’s ways. He also has a special connection with local wildlife, aka “Two Socks.” The beauty of the nature worshiping tribe’s way of life is about to be destroyed by the The Man (aka the military) and Dunbar has to choose sides.
See Avatar and try to tell me Cameron didn’t wed these two plots. Challenge!
Look, end of the day, Cameron will be remembered for expensive extremes–and for pushing envelopes others wont be greenlit to afford for ten years. Plus, the dude is kind of an a-hole so I feel inclined to dis, whereas you can’t dis Tim Burton because that’s like kicking a quirky puppy. Gush if you must, but FYI movies can be beautiful AND have the story AND have the characters AND be unique…AND cost a lot less. As Zrose would say, I’m not about to poo my pants because Cameron made a glow in the dark planet full of Mother Nature’s version of a USB port sprinkled about. Movies are NOT better because of great effects :: cough :: The Phantom Menace.