Monday, January 18, 2010


On Saturday evening, I went to see Avatar with my boyfriend and some friends. We saw it at the Geneva Movieplex in "Real-D." The Geneva Movieplex was fantastic, because with student IDs, we were able to get two tickets for the 3-D movie and two medium popcorns (we were buying for friends, also) for $26. Considering that in White Plains a 3-D movie is $15 for one ticket, I was immediately fond of the Geneva Multiplex.

Now, for the movie itself. Roger had read some reviews that called the movie racist, and I didn't find this, although maybe I'm attuned to that sort of thing differently than some people. Yes, the Na'vi take characteristics from many oppressed races. However, I don't think this necessarily becomes racism, because the characteristics are taken from so many different peoples. Additionally, the nice part of making this science-fiction is that the oppressed can rise up against the oppressors and actually win. In many other movies like this, there's a sense of being lied to, where perhaps we see a win, but we know that in reality, this win is only momentary. With this movie, we can imagine that it is permanent, and I love that.

However, not being racist didn't make this movie well-written or amazingly original. The story is pretty much exactly what we've seen in Fern Gulley, Pocahontas, and Dances with Wolves. Boy-oppressor comes to wreak havoc on natives, falls in love with native-girl, switches sides and helps save native-girl's people. The dialogue is outright bad at points. And, Cameron ends his film with a song with lyrics that did not appear in the movie. I know the same practice got him that coveted 14th Oscar nomination in Titanic, but it's bad form and I don't like it one bit.

However, the special effects are amazing, and make the entire movie worth seeing. Generally, 3-D films give me pretty bad headaches because my eyes are flickering back and forth so quickly trying to take everything in. However, Cameron seems to have pre-empted this, and although the cinematography is detailed and beautiful, there's never too much going on in a given shot. The coloring of the film is gorgeous, as are all the animals created for the movie. And, while other films shot in similar ways look completely animated, miraculously, Avatar is seamless. It combines animation with live-action and if we didn't know that Pandora isn't a real place, it would be difficult to tell the two apart.

Overall, my reaction is to tell other people to go see it. I want to hear other people's thoughts on it (most of the people I saw it with didn't like it, most other people I've talked to did), and I think it's worth seeing, especially if you can make it to the Geneva Multiplex for ultra-cheap tickets.


  1. I enjoyed it, but I saw it in 2-D first, & then decided it would be fun to see it in 3-D. Overall, I felt that the 3D didn't really add anything because there is so much to look at already in the movie.

    It was trite, but I felt like I was so busy looking at the movie that it didn't really matter. I also enjoy not having to bother getting worked up about characters. So overall, I also tell people to go see it, but take it with a grain of salt & don't try too hard for 3D.

  2. Hey Kristin! I was about to write a review of seeing "Avatar"! (In Nepal...definitely not in 3D...and with chunks of movie missing when the power went out.) So I'm glad you wrote already and I can respond to you.

    I found the movie stereotype-perpetuating on all fronts. I'm so sick of the trope of native peoples' wisdom about and harmony with nature, but even more sick of the trope of the liberal anthropologist (Sigourney Weaver) and that of jarhead commander (Stephen Lang) and that of money-hungry project manager (Giovanni Ribisi) and that of the military colonist-turned-native (Sam Worthington). But it was beautiful to watch, and I did tear up--at both the destruction and the triumph.

    CONS: In addition to sickeningly essentializing ALL non-Western cultures into one Other, the plot was unoriginal, the writing was bad, both were number-by-number predictable, and one guy caught on fire which really scares me.

    PROS: Amazing surreal effects; one forgets one's actual place and time and begins to live in Pandora (maybe this happened to me because I haven't seen a movie in a theater in six months). Pretty clever to name the mineral they're mining for "unobtanium." Similar to when I saw "Children of Men," seeing humans' capacity for violence and greed increased my belief that only religious practice can save us in these degenerate times. Maybe people will come away from "Avatar" with the recognition that "diet Coke and blue jeans," as Worthington's character says, aren't better than what we all have inside us.