Avatar was the biggest and best push for the so-called future of film: 3D! In the face of the popularity of piracy and ever-diminishing returns on films thanks to the Recession, Hollywood heads banged together to create something to seduce viewers all the way back to the cinema. What cannot faithfully be reproduced with a pirate copy? What will make people pay more to see a film at the cinema? That’s right, 3D! Never mind about interesting and novel scripts and storylines, or solid, believable characters. Just rehash an old storyline, imagine an entire planet, and film it in 3D. Make sure it costs a lot, spend millions on advertising, and charge ludicrous prices for the pleasure of watching it in three dimensions. Then watch the money roll in! And that’s what happened with Avatar. It wasn’t just James Cameron’s reputation that was on the line; the entire future of the Hollywood industry was on the line. Is there any other reason why a totally awful film would receive so many Oscar nominations?
Directors hedged their bets on 3D, waiting for the results of Cameron’s Avatar. It was a wild success and became the biggest grossing film of all time. Cameron has three sequels in the pipeline. But after watching it for a second time (I watched it at the cinema, to my great disappointment), all I can wonder is…why? Why did it earn so much? Why is Cameron pouring so much time and effort into Avatar sequels? Why am I even bothering writing a review about it? Because I’m lazy and want to rant about something!
Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.
The story behind Avatar is a skewed rehash of Cameron’s brilliant Aliens, without any of the brilliance. Something called unobtaniumis available in abundance on the distant planet Pandora. So what do we humans do? Plan an invasion! Iraq War anyone? Blood for unobtanium! The military, in conjunction with a mining company, have produced a programme in which humans are implanted into an ‘avatar’ of a Na’vi (the natives). A crippled marine called Jake is rushed into the programme when his twin dies. The ostensible result for this is a peaceful resolution to obtaining unobtanium.
However, it’s obvious the evil company just wants to invade Pandora and kill all the Na’vi. The military get more than what they bargained for when they eventually invade. The Na’vi’s ‘Hometree’ is destroyed in a perverse homage to 9/11. Then the military plan a pre-emptive strike (Iraq War?!?!?!) on the Na’vi. Of course, the company and the military are portrayed as evil bastards. They only think about money. The evil corporation is a sci fi (and a Cameron) staple and it’s used in a very lazy way here.
The life of the Na’vi is an extreme contrast to the human way of life. In a take on the concept of Gaia, all the Na’vi live in harmony with the planet Pandora. Pandora itself has a consciousness, a sort of bio-neural network. Na’vi physically connect with animals through strands of something in their hair. No technology exists to pollute this exquisite harmony. The humans are divided, always thinking about their own selfish goals. Technology has corrupted them to an unimaginable degree. There are only a few ‘good’ humans; only those who side with the Na’vi against the humans. No grey area is allowed to exist in this black and white film. Throughout the film, you are lead to cheer for the Na’vi, and boo the terrible, genocidal humans. Of course, the Na’vi has human emotions, for the simple reason that the audience would not sympathise with the aliens without this link. But this does not in any way temper the misanthropy inherent in this film. Humanity has no redeeming features at all.
You have a strong heart. No fear. But stupid! Ignorant like a child!
It isn’t great, or even good. Misanthropy rings true to the masses, especially the middle classes who, obsessed with climate change, diversity, FairTrade and saving the world have a great disregard for their own species. A thirst to see humans destroyed exists within the general population. That explains the popularity of Jerry Bruckheimer films. People want to punish themselves for the evils of the world. If it wasn’t for 3D and James Cameron, then Avatar would be laughed at and ridiculed, due to its paper-thin and predictable plot and 2D characters (oh, the irony!). The film is really an ‘avatar’ for itself, using the ability of 3D to become a better film. Jake is the crippled marine who finds freedom and popularity in the avatar of a Na’vi. Avatar is the mediocre film that found popularity, fame and fortune in the guise of 3D. Without their respective Avatars, both are handicapped creations.
It isn’t a triumph for science fiction, or films in general. It appeals to the inherent misanthropy is the masses, fostered by terrorism, climate change, and the loss of faith in politics. The failure of the post-Cold War world to produce freedom for all has lead to a hatred for all. Avatar employs the notion of Gaia and harmony with the world to twist the emotions. Fortunately, it didn’t win Best Picture. But 3D is still shoved down our throats for an extra two or three pounds a ticket. Due to Avatar, 3D was seen as the future of film due to the phenomenal success of Avatar. Since it was released, I can count on one hand the number of films that have been enhanced by the use of 3D. We don’t need 3D, Hollywood! We just need interesting, unique and exciting films. Avatar is none of the three descriptions.
VERDICT: 3/10. Avatar is a soulless CGI creation rendered in 3D, but the extra dimension adds nothing to the film. It’s a lazy rehash of concepts Cameron and others have executed better in the past. Just watch Aliens or Terminator.
What did you think of Avatar (2009)? Leave your thoughts/comments below!