Take the movie Solider Blue, add in Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, a dash of strip mining, deforestation, evil white settlers and good red natives and mix it all up with the tale of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, the corporate person from Aliens, and a clueless scientist who is the only human that smokes on an entire planet, spice it up with computer-generated special effects and what do you have? A movie called Avatar.
I will admit that the effects were amazing, even on regular screen. I did not go to see it at an IMAX showing nor did I see it in 3-D. Think about it, when the DVD/Blue-Ray Disk comes out, who will have that technology in their homes. Not us poor, everyday moviegoer, that’s for sure. And I went Saturday night, at the evening show. Amazing, but the theatre was only about 1/3 full. Where were the crowds that were panting to see this movie? Were they all there Friday night? And only $73 million for the first weekend? What’s that about? It looks like a lot of people decided to stay home or found another show to go see.
I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie. It was good, but it is not something that I plan on seeing again, at least for a while. In fact, I will probably wait for the DVD to come out and then it will be based on what extras are available. Why? Wasn’t I impressed with the movie?
Yes, I was impressed with the special effects. They were good. Alright, probably better than good. But special effects should not be the force that carries a movie totally. And, unfortunately, that what this movie does. I mentioned above what I immediately thought as elements of this movie. They may be more (I am purposely leaving out the whole Gaia-influence), but even with the small number I mentioned, you wonder how it hangs together. I’m not certain if it does. What would the story be if Cameron had instead focused on one thread or two. But to try to weave eight or nine together leaves very little room to fully develop any of them. Even at one hundred and sixty minutes, you don’t have enough time. Remember that when they made Shogun into a six hour miniseries, they went through the book and eliminated everything that did not deal directly with Anjin-san. This movie feels the same way. It feels that something is missing, the back story that gives us a reason for really caring about all these characters, at least other than the “feel-good” we are suppose to get from the mythic hodgepodge.
And, at the end, that it what it is, a mythic hodgepodge. You feel good because the good guys win and the evil guys get their ass kicked. And the statement, the moral of the story, is that we need to respect Mother Earth, to be good stewards of our planet.
But I still wish that the path to the end had been of more consistency…