The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

AKA Dances With Wolves In Outer Space, Where The Script Got Lost During Take-Off.

Ok, so the special effects were amazing. Outstanding CGI. Breathtaking visuals. But couldn't James Cameron have taken 1 year out of the 11 that went into making Avatar to script a better a story?

I mean, unobtainium? Really? Really?

Did anyone else notice that a gazillion years into the future, America has the technology to create Avatars but a wheelchair is still a wheelchair? No improved mechanics, nothing that is less cumbersome, no brain-waves operated wheels. That's right. They are able to create 10-foot giant Smurfs (on a diet) that are operated by the brain of a human who is miles away, but a wheelchair is still a wheelchair.

While we are at it, Avatar leads us to the following conclusion: a gazillion years into the future, America still does not have universal healthcare. In fact, a soldier injured during battle will have to bargain to receive medical treatment that would effectively undo the wound.

On to the 10-foot Smurfs and their planet. The giant Smurfs speak English. Randomly. Even though they despise humans. The giant Smurfs are also a hybrid of Native Indians and African tribes. No, really. They dress like Pocahontas, but they sing like the cast of Lion King (no, I didn't mean Elton John).

Everything, and I mean everything on Pandora is a stretched out, more dreamy version of Earth, past or present. No strange silicon-based life forms à la X-Files here (Firewalker, Season 2). All animals are variants of those from the Jurassic period. All plant life resembles what you would see if you went deep sea diving. Or took a walk through a rainforest. Everything is green, blue, pink and purple. I have seen more imaginative ideas on what alien life (good or evil) would seem like in '80s Japanese anime than I did through the entire run time of Avatar.

Dances with Wolves, this (sadly) is not. Unfortunately, Avatar also doesn't come up to the standard set by Cameron in classics such as Aliens or Terminator (yes, I am ignoring the bubblegum Titanic on purpose).

If James Cameron insists on making films like Titanic and Avatar henceforth, here's hoping that the next one takes 22 years in the making.

15 comments:

I always get amused by the fact that people expect things to be 'reasonable' in movies. Why should they? It's a movie which essentially means it's a story and by that; anything goes. I personally always try to enjoy a movie accepting it is a movie.

Come on dude, what's wrong with Unobtanium? For all we know it might be an inside joke of the production team. Besides I don't think it's that bad. And yeah wheelchair might be a bit out of date, but who cares. Maybe Jake has a thing for 'all things old'. Btw, it's not gazillion years into the future but a bit over a hundred. And trust me, even after another five hundred years healthcare will be the same. I guess. And again, I totally agree that all animals resemble one or another creature on earth plus two limbs, but that's OK in my opinion. It's an alien planet, so anything goes, really.

I found the story to be fascinating, vivid and enjoyable. Oh and about the plot, as much as it is along the lines of Dances with Wolves, so it is with Pocahontas. Remarkably similar.

I didn't expect Avatar to be 'reasonable'. I expected it to be good and logical. Which it isn't.

Avatar supposedly cost between $200 million to $500 million, which is the GDP of a (very) small country! For a movie that cost so much to make (and a whole $18 to watch), I expected more. Terminator, Terminator 2 or Aliens are not 'reasonable' movies by a long shot, but they are still good movies, and they do not defy logic (even of an alien planet).

The problem with Avatar is that the story is wafer thin, with holes so large (the logic issue) that a spaceship could go through them. There is only so much scenery that you can watch.

James Cameron spent $200 million telling an old story, and he hasn't told that story too well - characterisation is weak and everyone is a one-dimensional stock character. Everything visual in the movie is stupendous - but that's about it.

My point on the alien planet - it is nothing new. Just the same stuff, looking much better. I mean, it's an alien planet - can it please look a wee bit alien?

I'm not expecting Citizen Kane here, but surely, there must be more to a movie than just great visuals, right?

Pocahontas is no great movie either, but a) it's Disney, and b)it was vaguely based on a true story, and c) it didn't cost half as much as Avatar.

I expected Avatar to entertain me, but instead, all it did was tell an old story badly. And it took so long doing it that it gave me enough time to wonder about wheelchairs, health insurance and whole other heap of illogical plot devices, which I didn't mention because it gives away parts of the story to those who haven't seen it yet.

For the record, I personally believe even movies need not be logical. For example, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button defies all logic, yet it is a great movie (in my and many others' opinion). A good story told well. I find it is the same with Avatar.

The only thing that prevents me from enjoying a movie are the unreasonable plot devices. You may seem to have found them, but bar a few (which I was OK with forgiving) I thought the plot was OK.

Indeed it was a story that was told thousand times over in one form or the other, but how many 'new' stories you get in Hollywood anyway? Not much I guess. All in all, I enjoyed it thoroughly as much as I did his those two other movies (and I totally agree with you on Titanic which was a bit lame), even more.

By the way, if you don't mind spoiling it for others, please do share the 'plot holes' you found. Would love to know.

Benjamin Button, I assume since I haven't watched it yet, follows its own logic. Avatar does not.

Some plot holes/ inconsistencies are as follows:

*The gas is supposed to be toxic, but our evil military commander can breath it for a really long time.

*There is no oxygen to breath, but you can totally light a earth matchstick!

*The air is toxic, and our highly trained marine touches each and everything he sees. Maybe that's how he lost his legs.

*The natives plug their braids into every conceivable living thing on the planet, but they have sex just like we do. How convenient.

*Enough technology to create avatars, but the guns (revolvers?) look like they came off Rambo's set. No missiles, no long range guns, no MIGs, no nukes (low yield or otherwise)...I think the SLA had better weaponry! Or maybe the nukes will come in for the sequel.

*Colonel in metal suit can fend off an alien rhino, but his entire army (and air force), with all their ammo, collapses when a herd of animals attack them.

*WHY are the scientists there if no one listens to them anyways? Why didn't the good Commander just blow the place up as soon as he got there?

*The mining of some all-important mineral was left to a private company and a band of mercenaries...that sounds exactly like what the White House would do. NOT.

*A military commander decides that the best way to get rid of a hostile species in an environment you're unfamiliar with is not to carpet bomb the whole forest, but to send in ground troops and helicopters. And a tractor. Even CBK knew better.

*Nothing works inside the Vortex - but they can still transmit signals to their Avatars. But of course!

*This all-seeing, all-knowing Na'avis decide that the best way to attack their enemy who just bulldozed their tree is to run at them with bows and arrows. No strategy, no game plan, no guerilla warfare in their own terrain. Really? Are they that brain dead?

*And WHY do the Na'avi welcome Jake with open arms, teaching him all there is to teach? And if all they have seen of humans is the well-meaning Sigourney Weaver, why would they distrust humans so much?

I cannot emphasize how bizarre the whole battle was. The Na'avi should have been decimated, even if that mercenary army had only weapons available on planet earth in 2010.

You MUST watch Benjamin Button. Such an awesome story, and Brad Pitt is so great in the role.

Ok let me counter-argue your points.

*The evil commander is without a mask only when he shoots the escaping Jake and the gang. Even when he's holding his breath while firing.

*The matchstick is of giant proportions - made suited to handled by Na'vi hands. Perhaps they came up with a method to light them in that atmosphere too? Also, the movie doesn't say the environment is toxic in which way. Perhaps it's toxic only because the percentage of oxygen is too high for human liking. That explains why they need only a face mask too.

*Marine touches each and everything when he's in Na'vi form. Not toxic for them, I assume.

*Sex. It's 50-50. Yes it could have been otherwise, but it could also have been the same. It's certainly not impossible.

*Guns. Yes I too found that a bit odd but then again if they had guns that could destroy everything and used them rightaway, we wouldn't have a movie to watch, no?

*Colonel fights ONE alien. His army fights another army of rhinos. Obviously rhinos too got shot, but such a force can probably overrun the entire army of colonel. At least it's not impossible.

*They kept the blowing up the place as a last resort. If you watched it carefully, they were keen on finding a diplomatic solution (the exact words were used). Maybe there was movement against them on earth, and with them being a private corporation they must have had reasons to try every single diplomatic way.

*Again, space travel is expensive. Governments the world over, even US, are poor. So a multi-billion dollar company in another 100+ years can very well take up space travel.

*Yes they could have wiped out the whole population I assume. But again, where's the story then?

*Nothing mechanical works inside there. They were sending brain waves of sorts, so maybe it was possible.

*Na'vi attack was stupid, but then again they were only one clan amon many on the planet. How many Eelam Wars did SL govt lost before Mahinda?

*I found welcoming Jake was kinda unexplainable. Only reason I could give is, just before Neitiri tried to kill him that seed of the sacred tree fell upon her bow, then later on him. And later her mother decided (by some unexplainable, VERY African way) that he was someone special. Maybe that's the reason.

So, you see, it's how you decide to look at it basically. I usually choose to forget those glitches and enjoy the spectacle. Of course we don't have to have the same opinion.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unobtainium :

'Engineers have long (since at least the 1950s[2]) used the term unobtainium when referring to unusual or costly materials, or when theoretically considering a material perfect for their needs in all respects save that it doesn't exist. By the 1990s the term was in wide use, even in formal engineering papers such as "Towards unobtainium [new composite materials for space applications]".'

So while everything else is valid, this point of yourn ain't.

EXACTLY my point!!!!

http://colomborantings.blogspot.com/2010/01/and-i-finally-watched-avatar.html

@sach :P :D

@Dee
Whaat?
So you two are going to take side and wage war against me? I shall call upon Eiwah!
:P

I actually quite enjoyed it! I didn't look at it from the reality point of view though... :)

@ Sach: You are trying so hard to justify Avatar! I still stick by my points (but arguing about it seems a bit silly, eh?):P

The realistic thing to happen would have been for the Na'avi to lose the war. If Cameron wanted them to win, he should have paid a little more attention to the story so that their victory was achieved through plausible means. That's what keeps Avatar from being a great film. The visuals and technical wizardry (and Sigourney Weaver) pushes it to an acceptable level, but all else fails.

And hey, your profile says you live in Japan - wouldn't Nausicaa or Castle in the Sky (Laputa) have done justice to the $200 million, had they been movies in 3D instead of anime?

@ Foodie: Bu unobtainium is not a material, it is an element. It also exists. It could have been called unobtainium BEFORE it was discovered, but once the element (or any element) is discovered, it gets its scientific name and fits into the proper slot on the periodic table. Now that you've given the source of the word, the use of it in the movie makes even less sense for me!

@ Dee: Yaaaaaaaaaay! Someone agrees with me!

@ Scrumpulicious: Aaaah, I knew that I would be in the minority when I wrote this post ;)

Nah, not at all. What is there for me to gain from justifying it?

OK, definitely it is one way you can put, Na'vi losing it. But Cameron decided otherwise and made a movie. My point is, I try to forget reality and enjoy the movie as it is, though obviously you are different.

I think it's incredibly ridiculous to criticise a fantasy/sci-fi flick for being unrealistic.

Do you remember when starwars came out all those years back? Although the movie attracted a large fan base, the story was not exactly revolutionary. But the point of the movie was to indicate to us what is to come or could be in the future in terms of entertainment. Avatar is the same idea. Although the story line isn't that original, it is an indication as to what we should expect in the future. It raises the bar in what entertainment should be. Keep that in mind before dissing an exceptional concept, which I hope will become the benchmark.

As for imagination, anything goes as Sach said. I doubt you can come up with anything better when your goal is to revolutionize the entertainment industry and to strike awe and in the audience. The colors and imagery were alien enough....but not too alien to make people unable to connect with the beauty that the technology brought through. Imagine for example if the rain forest didn't have recognizable colors. Would you have been as entranced with the #D imagery or maybe a little disturbed or grossed out? Imagine if the aliens were things that we could not connect with physically, would story have worked as well? As for the wheelchair...it was used to symbolize the characters discomfort and the story he went through. If he was floating around in some new invention would the same emotions have been kindled in the audience? Unobtainium is a little childish...but you can look at it as a symbol to what we here on earth can not get. Such a spiritual connection to all things living.

So just think before you splatter thoughts on to paper. Can the crazy manga silliness have worked? Maybe not. It wouldn't have created the connection needed to make the movie work. To make this new technology come to the fore.

Hahahaa.
Smurfs on a diet. *smirk*
Funneeee

You know, posts where I have nothing to complain about somehow never end up being as popular as those where I rant! :)

@ David: I wasn't complaining about scifi being unrealistic in the sense of the world we live in, but more in terms of the world(s) it creates for itself.

@ Anon: I'm not so old that I remember Star Wars! Plus, you seem to have missed the entire point of the post, which did not diss the CGI (is that the exceptional concept you were referring to?) but the story (or lack thereof).

@ Sabby: :) I like being thought of as funny. Thank you!

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