Saturday, December 26, 2009
Avatar - A Beautifully Flawed Film
I went last evening with my son, Scott, and his girlfriend, Lacey, to see the blockbuster film, "Avatar." I absolutely loved the film. So much so, that I was tempted to sit through it a second time - all 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Having told you how much I enjoyed the move, I must quickly add that James Cameron's epic contains some serious flaws. The villains, the head of the military and the local representative from "corporate headquarters," are so one-dimensional that they could easy have stepped out of the silver screen in an episode of the silent film serial, "The Perils of Pauline." In Ty Burr's apt words in his Boston Globe review of the movie, "the corporate suits and military men (represented, respectively, by Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang) both would twirl their mustaches if they had them."
Stripped of Cameron's simplistic eco-political sloganeering and anti-military bashing, the film stunningly creates a visually intoxicating world on the planet Pandora. The peaceful inhabitants, the Na'Vi, as perfectly attuned to the surrounding ecosystem and flora and fauna. They are able to communicate with the spiritual/natural world through connections that are both physical and noetic .
The film's hero, a paraplegic military veteran, an ex-Marine named Jake Sully, goes "native," a la Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves." and struggles to save the Na'Vi from annihilation at the hands of the evil military-industrial complex. The trials that he had to endure to gain the trust of the Na'Vi and to win the heart of the chieftain's nubile daughter, provide some of the most satisfying moments in the story. At this point, the story soars along with the characters, who mount pterodactyl-like airborne beasts of burden.
Despite the flaws in the story telling, and the simplistic - and some have even said racist - anthropology and cosmology and the sketchy character development, Cameron offers a film of titanic beauty. I recommend seeing it in 3-D (IMAX 3-D if it is available in your area.)