The most expensive Pixar movie has defeated me again.
Calling AVATAR a Pixar movie is not a compliment. I can admire the technological advances of Pixar movies, but something has always bugged me about the “witty” screenplays which make them not just kid stuff, but something adults can catch.
The “adult” stuff amounts to pop culture references which make the knowing feel all smart and informed. Well, informed about comic books and movies. That’s done nothing to make me think this stuff is anything but part of a pop culture landscape based on television and kiddie stuff. The prevailing message is that you don’t have to read novels or maybe move beyond your secure little area of interest, you don’t have to reject childish things, you can just keep liking kiddie stuff, not that boring “literature,” or something written by someone you despise, be they of another race, religion…or even if they’re heterosexual white Christian American males. The point is, you can have your fun (I sure do), but challenge yourself sometimes.
James Cameron makes comfort movies, which is what Pixar movies are. AVATAR doesn’t have to solve the problems of racism, corporate overreach, the destruction of primitive native cultures, or legalized machetes, but the way Cameron just moves these pieces around on the board without a single second (as far as I can tell) of doubt, of true drama, makes his stuff fit for kids only, and lazy, dull kids at that. About all I’ve gleaned from reading about this movie is that its middle-aged fans want to bone a blue chick and like movies where lots of things explode.
Cameron has always preached a kind of watered-down leftism, just enough to get cheers from democrats for his strong women and environmentalism, but the stuff that seems to really appeal is the spectacle and the big, noisy battles. He makes porn for people who would rather play a video game than talk to a woman.
Surprisingly, I didn’t rush out to see AVATAR in the theater. I liked the Roger Dean-like stuff, and I think Wayne Barlowe did design work on the creatures. I just didn’t think I’d be able to stay awake for a couple hours of this stuff. The villains are key. As with Pixar movies, the villains are completely clear, and indicated from the start–they’re the ones who are completely human. In the best drama, there is a level of understanding of the villain–we don’t have to agree with the villain, but we can see their point of view. Hell, even Darth Vader was for law & order. And choking. Avatar didn’t seem to have even that most simplistic, basic shading. White man, he bad. Blue men and women, oh and all women on the human side, good. And pure.
I recently read yet another great review, and as with Carpenter’s THE THING, I started thinking, “Maybe I’m wrong.” I saw Avatar (I’m not capitalizing all the letters anymore) on the tube one night when I sat down to eat. Unlike the first two times I tried to watch, this was at the 40-minute mark. Maybe I just didn’t like the beginning?
Cameron defeated me yet again. The blue hero is romping around the woods with the blue hottie with Disney eyes, and the angry suitor shows up. He has a braid that connects him to his horsey.
That’s THREE attempts to watch this spectacular-looking but utterly boring flick, and I had to bail after ten minutes. It’s too simple, too cliched, or too blue. It’s unwatchable.
I think I’m done trying. I’ve proven my open-mindedness with this one. I like some of James Horner’s score, and that’ll do. It’s too bad that Cameron has said he will only make Avatar movies from now on. I guess I’m done with him as a moviemaker.
P.S. 2016 Update: I tried again. Failed again.