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John Drew

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James Cameron wants to make Avatar movies and nothing else. Except for deep-sea documentaries.

“I’ve done five documentaries in the last 10 years, and hopefully I’ll do a lot more,” Cameron says, citing the upcoming Deepsea Challenge. And if that’s not enough for you greedy land-dwellers, just know that Cameron feels that “within the Avatar landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said.”

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I've been working on a "10 Years Later" piece for Avatar and trying to figure out why I hate it so much.

"Hate" is a strong word, but I guess I am saying I realize that my dislike is out of proportion with any formal assessment of the film's quality. I came here to see if there were any thoughts, and I confess I was gratified to see there were 20+ pages leading up to and dealing with the film after the first year of release and like 2 posts for the last nine years. Some anecdotal fodder for the supposition that the film was a manufactured event in an age of disposable blockbusters. More later, maybe. But I gotta grade and--speaking of disposable blockbusters--I hear the Rams and Patriots are playing in the Liii Bowl, whatever that is. 

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I watched Avatar in the theater, then never revisited it, and I have little desire to do so now. Can't imagine that it's improved over time; the story was so painfully simplistic that it relied on spectacle and visuals, especially the use of 3D and CGI, technology which has improved to the point where it's almost the norm. It's one of the few times the Academy got it right when The Hurt Locker and Bigelow won the Oscars instead of Avatar and Cameron.

And looking it up now on IMDB, I had completely forgotten that Michelle Rodriguez was in this.

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I love Avatar and still love it all these years later.

Not going to really dig into all the reasons why I think it's wonderful, but one thing I'll point out is that over the past decade, as franchises have taken over Hollywood to such an insane degree (and Avatar itself is about to become a franchise), Avatar kind of stands as the last classical blockbuster. It wasn't based off any pre-existing media, it wasn't a comic book movie, and it didn't have any big-name stars or obvious reasons why it'd be a hit, aside from James Cameron's unimpeachable track record. It drew on a lot of archetypal storylines, but its worldbuilding and filmmaking technology was anything but redundant. People get giddy in movies nowadays and occasionally a blockbuster gets the entire audience on its side, but more often than not, when I'm watching a big Hollywood spectacle, the people in the theatre around me seem to be reacting to the movie as fans-first, and to the film as a product first and not a movie. Avatar never had that. It seemed to get the entire audience on its side and no one went into the film expecting anything because it was a genuinely new experience, even if the story itself wasn't entirely new. So when it swept them up in its spectacle, it wasn't cynical or a self-fulfilling prophecy of marketing or brand power. It was just people reacting genuinely to a big movie experience.

Also, I think the idea that it is almost completely forgotten is more a result of it not spawning a franchise and remaining a movie than actually a comment on the film's quality. And I think that the idea that it's completely forgotten itself is a bit of a lie. Cinephiles might not talk about it much, but for ordinary people who only see a couple movies a year, perhaps at Christmas, I doubt Avatar has faded in their mind more than any other massive film over the past decade. Furthermore, no film has ever been as popular with international audiences. It kind of gave birth to the notion that you should care about the international marketplace as much as a domestic. Just wait: the sequels will be massive hits around the world.

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