Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Avatar's Ying and Yang

Even as James Cameron's latest does this ...

By this time next week, James Cameron should have the two highest-grossing films in history.

The amazing feat for Cameron, his Lightstorm Entertainment production shingle and "Avatar" -- which has topped $1 billion worldwide -- follows the filmmaker's success in 1997-98 with "Titanic," the top-grossing picture ever.

...the world's greatest movie capitalist is ticking off conservatives.

... To say that the film has evoked a storm of ire on the right would be an understatement. ... Big Hollywood's John Nolte, one of my favorite outspoken right-wing film essayists, blasted the film, calling it "a sanctimonious thud of a movie so infested with one-dimensional characters and PC cliches that not a single plot turn, large or small, surprises.... Think of 'Avatar' as 'Death Wish' for leftists, a simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy where if you freakin' hate the bad guys (America) you're able to forgive the by-the-numbers predictability of it all."

John Podhoretz, the Weekly Standard's film critic, called the film "blitheringly stupid; indeed, it's among the dumbest movies I've ever seen ...."

I know I'm shirking my national duty, but I haven't seen Cameron's latest. However, the resident teenage film buff around here has viewed it, and his comment reflects what I've heard elsewhere:

"It pretty much has the same plot as Fern Gully ..."

You remember Fern Gully don't you? Bill and Sue Kroyer's 1991 animated feature? It's a picture I do know something about, since TAG represented the writers and artists working on it. Bad guys ravage the rain forest, elves and fairies fight back. Fox released FG, just as it's released this new Gully knock-off. And funny thing. I don't remember, nineteen years back, any collective scream of outrage when that earlier picture came out.

Maybe I was napping.

But I find the anger and disdain about Avatar a trifle silly. It's a sci fi parable set on a far away planet far in the future, for cripe's sake, with the same plot points we've seen in a bunch of Hollywood epics, from Fern Gully to Dances with Wolves to this item:

They Died With Their Boots On, in case you haven't seen it, is a fairy tale history of George Armstrong Custer where the villains are the greedy white entrepreneurs and the Native Americans the good guys, with Custer -- at the climax --the Indians' ally.

Put aside the inconvenient truth that Boots stands history and Custer's actual biography on its head. You can peruse Rotten Tomatoes and find various reviews of this sixty-nine-year-old film without finding one that has a complaint about how Warner Bros. is attacking good old American capitalism.

What I'm saying is, the basic plot of Avatar has been done by Tinsel Town for years without a lot of griping from the Right. And I'm thinking the only reason there are all these complaints now about a derivative science fiction movie is that political discourse in this great land of ours has become even more deranged than usual.

Come on already. Nobody made a peep that Custer sided with the Indians in Boots. So what's the deal with Avatar?


Neal said...

I agree- Avatar is such an easy target, and I don't think Cameron would try to claim the story as revolutionary or original. He's said at its core it's an fantasy/adventure intended for entertainment, and given that expectation, I was very entertained!

Anonymous said...

Like anyone's going to see Avatar - and loving it - because of its brilliant scripting, which is hardly a Cameron trademark. It's completely, 100 percent the visuals. If it's a leftist screed, it's a remarkably silly one, even in comparison to actual leftist screeds. ;)

Anonymous said...

Conservatives are hypersensitive and attack every little thing nowadays because the status quo is slowly but surely changing.

Unknown said...

Actually it was much much more than visuals and animation effects. It was the deeper message and a greater Truth that instinctively, if not unconsciously everyone knows. We are ALL connected to everyone and everything. That IS our nature. You cannot kill yourself. The bottom line, love is more powerful than fear. Cameron connected to humanities archetypal nature.

Anonymous said...

This is all rather silly, especially given that Cameron is a pretty hardcore conservative. For proof, try listening to his commentary on Aliens.

Jonathan said...

I'm sure Fox news is all over it. Undoubtedly Glenn Beck and Bill O'Rielly are ripping into it with spit and venom. It's funny they weren't mentioned in the article.

Oh wait...

Fox released Avatar.

I guess "integrity" only goes so far.

Limbaughisanidiot! said...

Does anyone go to see a martial arts movie expecting good acting? Does anyone go see a romantic/comedy expecting to see good vfx? Does anybody go see a Michael Bay film expencting great dialogue? I agree films should have a minimun of a standard, but I don't think "Avatar" was that bad. It's a James Cameron film, pure and simple.

We have seen this story before, in "Pocahontas", and similarly in "Dances with Wolves". Even "Lawrence of Arabia" could be seen as a similar story.

That said, right wing wingnuts can shove their opinion!


Anonymous said...

I think the Fox connection is key here. When I saw it, I immediately imagined how much the message would piss off the conservatives. But without Fox News leading the charge it's a tree falling in an empty forest.

Has Fox News even glancingly metioned a "controversy?"

Anonymous said...

It would help if it were actually a good movie. Which - for all it's extra-stuff-piled-on-to-infinity James Cameron filmmaking - it is not.

Pile on the criticism left and right. The film was bought and sold to be pure spectacle. It's fair game and that is what it is there for. Spectacle.

Anonymous said...

The telling thing regarding "Avatar" will be whether the usual suspects on Fox News jump on the "the movie is anti-American" bandwagon. If they do, then they truly believe what they say on a daily basis, and if they don't, then they're just a bunch of opportunists who are making sure not to bite the hand that feeds them.

Anonymous said...

Step back for a minute and consider the obvious... someone, on their blog, said that some other people, on their blogs, disapprove of something.

That's it. That's the "storm".

Anonymous said...

I think this is interesting....


I haven't donated my 16.00 to Cameron yet.

r said...

Avatar is sold out for tonight on this neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...


BoltSucked!!! said...

$ 1,131,752,464 worldwide in its third week.


Anonymous said...


Nothing makes people feel better than implying they are somehow "better" than the crowd by saying something sucks.

"Oooh, I have such awesome taste! Avatar sucks and Im one of the elite few who know it! I will make a website and profess to all who come here how much better my critical skills are than yours!"

I guarantee you the person who started that site is a plain ol nobody.

Anonymous said...

PS) Same goes for BoltSucked!!!

Sushant said...

Thats an imaginable collection. The movie was real good. Heard he’s starting for the sequal for Avatar. Another record breaking film on the way. Still Titanic lives in our heart.

r said...

Avatar was spectacular.

Once it leaves the theaters, those who didn't go will come to regret it.


Anonymous said...

The furries must be going nutz over this film.

havent seen it yet but I will try and catch it when I have 3 hours to spare.

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