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AVATAR_lizardi reviews

December 23, 2009

I know you’re all desperately waiting to hear what I thought about Avatar.  Most of you probably think I hated it.  I didn’t.  But the movie isn’t without its flaws.  It has many.  As some of you may know one viewing is rarely enough for me to make a valid  argument over a film.  I enjoy studying cinema.  I like to view the movie as a whole and then disect the film, pulling it a part piece by piece, before putting it back together again.  Then I’m ready to write a review… or perhaps I’m just feeling lazy.  Anyway, I’ve asked my good friend Ryan Lizardi to write up a review for me.  He is both a fanboy and a filmmaker whose opinion I hold in high regard.  So, without further ado, I present to you Lizardi’s review (unintentional rhyme!)

Good or Bad?! I must know!!!

AVATAR:

It is not that Avatar is a poorly made “bad” film. It might even be that it is the exact opposite. This film comes across to viewers as the kind of high gloss, meticulously planned project we have come to expect from the stable of formerly great directors that used to dazzle us in yesteryears. James Cameron, I would like you to meet Spielberg and Lucas who will be your roommates from now on. They could do a sitcom, it would be hilarious.

Avatar is too slick, too “good,” and it comes out the other end as technically and technologically competent, but severely lacking in places like dialogue, plot construction, and basic human feeling. Was I supposed to care about those cartoon blue creatures? And no they did not look like real people like so many reviews have said. The 3D looked better in the human scenes than it did in the Na’vi scenes because on Pandora everything looks like so many digital cartoons being produced today. There is a sensor on the 3D glasses you get that if you touch it the 3D effect disappears. I couldn’t stop touching it out of sheer boredom. This film is way too long and way too predictable.

Specifically, this film is too neat of a package. When a character says an “offhanded” line in the beginning of the film you know beyond a shadow of a doubt it will be really important in the end. It’s like Cameron couldn’t stop reading the foreshadowing section of his Screenwriting 101 book. The cheesiness of some of the elements in this film know’s no bounds either. Did you really just name the all important reason to attack the Na’vi “Unobtainium”? Honestly, that’s your best shot? It feels like Cameron wrote that as a placeholder early in the construction of this film and forgot to change it by the end. Ridiculous. Why don’t you just shoot Indiana Jones thousands of feet in the air in a metal refrigerator only to suffer minor injuries. Same thing.

Cameron spends most of Avatar ripping off other films (Dances With Wolves), himself (“loaders” from Aliens) and Earth’s biological world (Pandora animals that are dog, horse, and lemur equivalent) only to end up with a film that can only be described as unoriginal and above all hollow. I think that might be the best way to describe it. All surface, no substance. Hurry up and get to the kitchen Cameron, I think Lucas and Spielberg are eating all of your peanut butter.

by Ryan Lizardi

Ryan Lizardi is a Ph.D. Candidate in Mass Communications at Penn State.  He’s also my very first guest-blogger and, because of it, will always hold a special place in my heart (that and we went to film school together.)  Hopefully I will be able to con him into writing more film reviews in the future!!

– cK

And if you’ve seen Avatar, and you loved it, or hated it, let’s hear it…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Zak Roman permalink
    December 23, 2009 3:05 am

    Kugler, great blog man. Nice mention of Gremlins in your Christmas movie canon.

    I completely echo Lizardi’s sentiments about Avatar. We saw it together and by the end we were mostly laughing. Cameron checks all of the action cliche boxes, including clunker lines like, “It’s not over while I’m still breathing.”

    Besides the fact that it’s a tired story (the aforementioned Dances with Wolves, The Cell, and The Matrix), with the optics of innovation rather than genuine origination, I mostly was pissed off that I was so bored and felt so apathetic about nearly every character. This is certainly not the game changer that it’s being touted as. We’ve seen well done, heavy effects work before, and used to greater effect. I’m thinking specifically of how District 9 employed its digital characters much more aptly and believably. The effects dictated this movie, and it seems to be a growing trend with Cameron. It’s hard to believe this was the guy behind Terminator 2. At least when that film did effects for the sake of effects it was cool.

    Ryan, your sitcom sounds like a perfect “Three’s Company” reboot. I think Carrie Fisher is now crazy enough to be a perfect zany landlord.
    It will be followed by the premier of “Marx!”

    Unobtainium…for shame.

  2. cklockwork permalink*
    December 23, 2009 1:43 pm

    Hey Zak!! Great to hear from you!! I agree lot of the movie is down right laughable… but, at the same time, I can’t say I saw a movie this summer I enjoyed more. District 9 didn’t do it for me, I’m not sure why not. As for Avatar, I walked out of the theater giving it a B (I guess that translates to 3 out of 4 stars.) I’m not sure if that grade will hold up though. I walked out of many of Cameron’s films loving them… only to have my opinion of them quickly degrade with time. I have a feeling that will also be the case with Avatar. Never-the-less, I’m destined to see the film at least once more over the holidays. After that I think I’ll have a real handle on how I feel about this film.

  3. December 26, 2009 4:49 am

    Kugler great blog man. Can’t really agree with the review however. I didn’t love this film but I agree that it is a solid B.

    Also District 9 was terrible. Films like that set real Sci Fi back by years. The last 45 minutes of that film just reinforces the perception that science fiction must have that obligatory action sequence. I know Avatar had its share of action but at least that was obvious from the beginning. It is a fantasy sci fi film plain and simple, Films like District 9 masquarde as social commentary wrapped in sci fi when really they are nothing but over achieving action films that do nothing but over shadow truly great sci fi films like Moon.

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