Monday, January 11, 2010

Avatar

Watched Avatar in 3D this past weekend and was quite bedazzled by the technology. The story and the movie itself did not impress nearly as much. It seemed like the re-enactment of America's history with an alternate ending on a far away planet in the future. We have a Pochahontas in Neytiri who by falling in love with the enemy drags a great calamity to the doorstep of her people. However, things end a lot more happily for the Na'vi people on Pandora than they did for the Native Americans - an act of cinematic expiation almost.

The way history may have been idea is wonderful in concept but the execution is deeply flawed at best. Bestowing the human-like inhabitants on Pandora with tails made me wonder why that was necessary - given the all too obvious parallels. Was Cameron trying to imply a less evolved life-form with deficient brains to match - a combination responsible for the fate that befalls them. In as such, is it not a slap on the face of native, indigenous populations anywhere in the world. The earth-side is represented by emotional quotient challenged mercenaries who thrive on making habitual racial slurs, being as obnoxious and culturally unsophisticated as possible. In as such, that part of the story becomes a crude exposition of the white man's burden.

Then there is the regular guy from earth who turns Na'vi a la Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves, becomes their messiah and saves the day. I found it hard to get excited about that premise in particular. Why might the indigenous people - blue-skin, tails, halos and all not be able to rise to the occasion and the throw the trespassers out of their planet on their own. After all most of the heavy lifting in the battle was done by their gigantic animals who did not even need a leader or cause to rally around - it was merely nature's way of restoring balance. 

The special effects are stunning enough that a viewer can overlook (for the most part) a cliche leaden storyline that sags under it's own weight. I would have found it a lot harder to like the movie without those 3D glasses - maybe the reason why I walked away greatly disappointed watching Cameron's Titanic some years ago.

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