I went home for the weekend for a belated Christmas with my immediate family as well as my aunt and (much) younger cousin. We did the whole thing with a vegetable tray and the spicy shrimp and all, and ended up watching the copy I got of WALL-E in order to keep our cousin entertained. The whole family ended up watching, even Dad, who never likes sitting through movies without having two or three to switch between, because WALL-E is just that good. I planned to come back to my apartment on Sunday, but it's now Monday afternoon and I just got in, so there you go. That's mostly because I ended up spending Saturday night at my brother's apartment, where it was cold and the bed was uncomfortable and *insert more complaining.* We played some games, though, including one of the Nancy Drew PC games I got last summer (turns out that even with an emulator they don't run for crap on my Mac, so I'll have to play them at his apartment). We also went and saw Avatar, which he wasn't into and about which I was ambivalent.

On the one hand, yes it is completely gorgeous, even close to visually perfect. And yes, the action sequences were a lot of fun. And yes, I felt that the story flowed smoothly, though there was a point at around the two hour mark when I began thinking that we'd been watching it for an awfully long time. I didn't have a problem with the blue kitty people's FireWire connection to nature like I thought I would (I mean come on, they plug themselves into animals--literally plug themselves into animals wtf how does that benefit the animals no ecosystem would ever be like that raaar), because it became clear pretty early on to me that this was not at all an exercise in building a realistic world; but rather a way of making a fairly simple morality play (very) interesting visually.

But that's part of my problem with the film, in the end--the symbolism gets taken so far and built up so much that whatever message the film has ceases to be applicable to the real world. Oprah said (yeah yeah, Mom watches it and I happened to be in the room, okay?) that it was about how we're all connected to nature--but it's not. The humans in the world aren't connected at all to anything. Only the blue kitty people get that privilege, and in their case it is absolutely literal. So what, then, the message is don't be human? That doesn't work for me. And of course my other problem with it is that the morality of the story is far, far too simple and black and white. Industrialists and military types bad, blue, tree-hugging natives good. Never mind that the Na'vi are racist to the point where they won't even converse with a human unless that human is speaking through an avatar body that looks like a nice, familiar blue kitty--nope, they're the good guys, and there's absolutely nothing about them that should be taken negatively. And, of course, there wasn't much effort made to steer clear of certain tired action cliches, and there was more than one plot hole to niggle at me (like how did Trudy not get jailed for dereliction of duty, thereby preventing her from aiding the heroes later on?). In the end...yeah, I think the writing was pretty lazy.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that I hated the film, because I really didn't. I might even see about going again while it's still in theaters, since I'm pretty sure my TV won't do it justice when it comes out on DVD. I just wish that it had been a more complicated movie, especially when it was so long--they had three hours of movie to play around with, and still didn't manage to flesh out the so-called villains even to the point where they consistently behaved in a realistic fashion, much less to show their point of view or where this conflict was really coming from beyond providing us with a caricature of extreme capitalism. I've seen the issues surrounding the meeting of two alien species and the subsequent attempt to 'Westernize' (or Terranize?) the other race handled more intelligently in a series of parodies starring teddy bear people. Seriously, James Cameron--if you really do make that sequel, you'd better step up your game story-wise.



November 2012



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