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Christian wrote:

: FWIW, my press peeps said, as of yesterday, that it's OK to post reviews of the film.

Ah, so that's why Brandon's review went up today.

FWIW, the Vancouver publicist told me a few hours ago that the studio would prefer that our reviews go up no earlier than Thursday (which is one day before the official release date -- perhaps there are midnight screenings planned?).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's Paste's #1 movie of 2009... and I was surprised to see that this list is different from the list they published in the print version. Maybe next year they could publish a "list-in-progress" to avoid confusion. I know I won't have a "final" list up anytime soon. Hmm... does this mean that Paste's *music* list might change over time as well? I've never seen them change a list before (but then, I've never thought to check back...) Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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From the Paste Avatar review:

While the story structure may be paint-by-numbers epic archetype, it hardly matters.

Riiiigght.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Overstreet wrote:

: It's Paste's #1 movie of 2009... and I was surprised to see that this list is different from the list they published in the print version.

Well, the media hadn't even SEEN the film until last Thursday, so, given the long lead times that magazines require, I think we'd have to say that any top ten list that had ALREADY appeared in print was probably premature.

: Uh-huh. Rock-solid reasoning there. In a few years, they'll be wincing over that line.

Well, story isn't everything. Sometimes it's not even the most important thing. If we're going to dismiss a film for being too archetypal in its story structure, what do we do with, e.g., the original Star Wars?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh, I agree that story isn't everything. But when I publish my review, I'll be focusing on this issue, and how there's a big difference between the way Star Wars does archetypes and the way Avatar does archetypes so stay tuned.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'm as much a sucker for visual brilliance as the next guy, and if the story sucks, I'm happy to blissfully focus on the visuals instead. I had a problem doing that with Avatar. Wish it weren't so, and I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite, ignoring this weakness in other films but possibly magnifying it in the case of Avatar. Maybe this concern will ease with future viewings. Hard to say.

I'm surprised at how many critics are willing to overlook, or minimize, the story's problems. Here's David Denby:

The movie’s story may be a little trite, and the big battle at the end between ugly mechanical force and the gorgeous natural world goes on forever, but what a show Cameron puts on!

This seems to be the dominant, albeit still emerging, critical consensus on the film. The story's weakness bothered me more than it did others, and the visuals didn't captivate me to the extent that they captivated others.

I'm trying to look forward and anticipate how that balance might shift with subsequent viewings, but that's a hard thing to pull off. Adding to the weight of this is the trend, in recent years, for me to respond much less fervently to films that are considered well-made blockbusters. I used to enjoy many blockbusters, and to thumb my nose at critical complaints about those films, but lately I just can't muster much enthusiasm for these films -- even those well liked by most critics (the recent Star Trek -- which I enjoyed more than Avatar -- is an example). I also have a hard time believing that there aren't more complaints about this film's length, although it just goes to show that a movie that's liked is never too long, and a movie that's not liked can never end soon enough, right?

I feel like a curmudgeon, and I don't like it. I used to play the curmudgeon. To actually become one? That sucks.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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FWIW, I finally read the Paste blurb on this and, um, yikes. Four uses of a first-person pronoun in the first four sentences? Bad writing, that. Definitely reads like it was written in haste.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Embargoes Again

Panties are in a bunch in Chicago, amongst other places, over embargoes and Avatar. I will try to keep this simple.

The Studio and The Regional Publicist (in this case, Allied) are not in sync when it comes to embargoes. For better or worse (I would say "worse" in most cases), embargoes have become a bit fluid. The world is smaller than it was a decade ago. And when Avatar played in London last week, Fox put itself behind a bit of an eight-ball back here at home. . . .

One of my writers, Ray Pride, had seen the 11a screening in Chicago. (It's still unclear why Chicago saw the film before NY or LA.) I informed him that he was free to write about the film right away, as per my discussion with the studio. He was concerned about Allied's invitation which, as it often does, offered threats in anticipation of anyone breaking embargo. But the studio employs the regional publicists, so the studio green light wins the day. Likewise, Mike Wilmington, who saw the same LA screening as I did, was free to write at that point.

By the time The Chicago Tribune posted a review of the film, the embargo was over. And it had nothing to do with "a lot of outlets" breaking the embargo. It was, as usual, a domino effect. And literally, by the end of business on the day of the first US screenings, the embargo was over.

Does this mean that The Chicago Tribune has not broken embargo in the past? No. I am not knowledgeable about that.

But I do know that Allied lifted the embargo in Chicago about a week after the studio had, for all intents and purposes, lifted it. And that seems to be the nature of the beast. Regionals are not beating down the studio doors to get embargoes lifted early and Studios are busy dealing with cranky asses like me. It's not even that Studios don't care about regional reviews. It's just that the work is split up and one hand is not always in touch with the other in the heat of battle. . . .

David Poland, December 16

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Kenneth Turan is not going to be caught on the wrong side of this Cameron film, but I'm on exactly the opposite side when it comes to this point of his:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cameron's visual accomplishments is that they are so powerful we're barely troubled by the same weakness for flat dialogue and obvious characterization that put such a dent in "Titanic."

Those qualities are here, all right, no mistake about that, but perhaps because of the power of the visuals, the strangeness of the science fiction world and the fact that many of the characters are Na'vi and not human, it doesn't feel like they matter as much. The film's romantic protagonists paradoxically end up feeling like creatures whose fates we care more about than we did Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet's on the boat.

I recognized the weaknesses of Titanic, but it was only after I saw Avatar that I began to appreciate the human dimension of the central romance of Titanic. The Avatar romance moved me not one iota. (OK, maybe one iota, but no more.) I saw it, I recognized it, but I never felt it, not at all. It was a plot device, nothing more. Leo and Kate's romance in Titanic struck me as absurd because it shot up and was consummated in what, one or two days? But it had moments of passion, and I understood why so many people -- young girls, in particular -- wanted to see that film over and over again. It was romantic.

I don't think Avatar comes anywhere near that level of romance. If it succeeds, it does so on other strengths. The romance is just an afterthought.

Feel free to argue with me. Please!

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I don't think Avatar comes anywhere near that level of romance. If it succeeds, it does so on other strengths. The romance is just an afterthought.

I disagree. I was much, much more invested in these two than in Jack and Rose. I told the publicist on the way out that what surprised me most was that, for all of the effects wizardry, what was most compelling to me was this surprisingly detailed relationship.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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If memory serves, the romance in Titanic was between naive, impetuous youth, one of whom was trapped in an awful, loveless relationship and eager for an escape. That explains, if not quite justifies, all sorts of activity.

I'm not sure the lovers in Avatar have that excuse. There are, indeed, a few points in their romance where I thought "what the heck are they DOING!?", and there was at least one point where I thought, "Wait a minute, she didn't KNOW this about him? But I thought... I thought..."

I admit that it is interesting to see the five-times-married Cameron come up with a movie that romanticizes the notion of mating/bonding for life (and not just in marriage). But that just makes the characters' actions, heedless of the future as they are, all the more trite or foolish. In Titanic, on the other hand, we have a couple of swooning kids who, of COURSE, aren't thinking about the future at all, and then suddenly disaster strikes and kills one of them, so that, for the survivor, their love is frozen in time and therefore practically eternal -- but only in hindsight. So Titanic makes a heck of a lot more sense, on that level.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Yes, the embargoes are off here due to midnight showings. My review will be up tomorrow morning at Image.

Let's just say when I walked out of the theater I thought I'd had an A+ experience. But, the longer I waited to honor my agreement, the more time I had to think about it. As a result, I've come down to a B+. Great *experience*, but a story that's frustrating and sophomoric in all kinds of ways.

So, you *could* say that the embargo worked to my advantage, and against the studio/publicists. :) I would have been shouting from the rooftops a week ago. Now I've had time to bring the experience into sharper focus.

Back to the romance: I never ever cared much for Jack and Rose. I found Jack too rebellious, arrogant, and lustful to see what happened there as a love I cared about supporting. Avatar's romance feels more genuine, more like a relationship I understand and respect. And yeah, it feels like a lifelong commitment, not an impulsive adolescent whim. And it's not a matter of seduction this time, except insofar as Jake Sully is seduced by the beauty and wonder of the whole N'avi culture. It feels like two independent characters growing in mutual respect and care. The love story here is one of the strongest threads in the film, in my opinion. I was convinced and I cared.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'm sitting here polishing up my review for Image, but here are a few pieces of the evolution of my response. (Caution: Mild spoilers, which have been marked.)

Initial email to SDG immediately after seeing the movie: Subject line -

AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Excerpts-

Wow.

Just...

wow.

It's an encyclopedia. It never relies too heavily on a movie we've already seen, and yet it quotes ALL of the fantasy movies we've ever seen... including all of Cameron's previous films. It *is* Titanic again, in a way. It *is* The Abyss again, in a way.

The New World, The Matrix, Last of the Mohicans, you name it... it's there. [since then, I've started calling it "Lawrence of Pandora."]

And what's more, it succeeds brilliantly in a way The Lord of the Rings films never did. Peter Jackson was never able to create *fantasy* beauty visually. He could only make horror and devastation, and he relied on New Zealand for beauty. Thus, his elves were never mysterious enough, never angelic enough. Cameron, in the first hour of this film, spends so much time *imagining* new forms of beauty (borrowing heavily, and brilliantly, from deep-sea details), that I was breathless. The 3-D enhances, but doesn't distract. The detail, the natural world of Pandora, is a unique and important breakthrough in fantasy filmmaking. It's a world that hasn't been imagined for the possibilities it offers war sequences (although those sequences are amazing). It's been imagined in ways that make us fall in love with the place.

And when Grace says,

"I'll want to take some samples,"

at the end, and the crowd LAUGHS... that's the moment when I realized that the film wasn't going to worship science... or even worship nature... but it was in fact in awe of the strange intermingling of the spirit and the body, the mysterious way that God [or a great spiritual mystery] is *in* all things and *through* all things.

Now, it's not a perfect spiritual allegory. (What is?)

And by saying we "killed our mother", it suggests that there can be multiple gods.

But I'm very willing to forgive its animistic inclinations for the way it cultivates a sense of mystery *beyond* the plants and critters.

And who would have thought that the film's strongest point would be its love story? I really felt for these two. I believed their relationship.

For the first time, there's a James Cameron movie that I enjoyed without reservation.

...

The "taming the dragon" sequence!! It was brilliantly done. The language of the Naavi was convincing and beautiful to listen to. The CGI was uneven, sure, but it was successful far more often than not.

The dialogue stumbles into action-flick cliches too often, but that's a quibble.

I'm very, very impressed.

Okay... that was my first impression that I wanted to post all over the place.

I've come down now.

Excerpts from yesterday morning's email to SDG:

Much of the experience "evaporated" within 48 hours, leaving me with a story that I find too by-the-numbers. It impressively consolidates action-movie cliches, but I'm not sure it enhances them. And its political commentary too convenient, like the stuff of unthinking, brash, Michael-Moore internet commentary on the Iraq war

Star Wars brought Joseph-Campbell-Mythic-Storytelling into the spotlight in a way that hadn't happened in a while, so that it felt new and fresh. No, it wasn't the first to do so, but it was the first to do so with such invention, grandiosity, and revolutionary effects in decades, and it gave filmmakers a fever from which they've never recovered. Every movie to deal in Campbellacious-mythmaking since then gets compared to Star Wars, not Star Trek or Clash of the Titans. The original Star Wars trilogy remains America's cultural reference point for this kind of storytelling because it revolutionized the visual effects AND it told a mythic story with powerful simplicity, strong characterization, and a bold acknowledgment of spiritual warfare.

Avatar falls short in that it tells a very crowded story, cramming the whole epic into one movie, and it uses the same character archetypes without making the characters distinct enough for them to become beloved. I don't think kids today are going to take to Jake Sully and Nyteri and Michelle Rodriguez (Does that character have a name? See? I've already forgotten...) the way we took to Luke, Han, Leia, Ben, and the droids.

Further, Star Wars' characters had voices that distinguished their characters' personalities. Avatar's doesn't. I'd say even The Matrix was better at this than Avatar. In time, I think the great failure of Avatar will be that its script feels like it was written by an action-movie-buff, and not by a writer. The dialogue isn't any more interesting than the stuff of Michael Bay movies. That may make it easy to translate into subtitles for global box office, but it doesn't translate into characters who inspire lots of action-figure sales and Halloween costumes and cultural-icon status.

It looks great, but it just goes through the motions when it comes to storytelling. I mean, [one particular character's heroics] are just boilerplate Han Solo stuff, but [this character's] arc is not sharp enough to be memorable like Han Solo's.

The spiritual aspects of Avatar are not serious enough.

...

The N'avi are the kind of idealized culture that hinders meaningful storytelling, in my opinion; they're what we've been doing *wrong* with Native American storytelling (or Michael Moore's idealization of Iraq as a happy place where children all fly kites).

...

Star Wars' bold third-act maneuver - to make the villain redeemable, against the audience expectations and desires - is its masterstroke. Avatar has nothing so bold or redeeming as that.

...

Yes, we were horrible toward the Native Americans; but the N'avi are not Native Americans. And in most stories of conquest, there's plenty of blame to go around... but not in Avatar.

...

Further, I was dismayed at how [one character's heroic solution to a problem involves exploiting] the natives' own religious superstitions in order to get their attention.

...

What I appreciate about the spiritual aspect of Avatar is how it gives us a better place to talk about the *agreement* of science and religion than... um... midichlorians did.

But overall, I think Avatar's tremendous technical achievement is truly remarkable, but its storytelling is only impressive in just how many other films it consolidates. It's impressively new in every way except the way that matters most.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I admit that it is interesting to see the five-times-married Cameron come up with a movie that romanticizes the notion of mating/bonding for life (and not just in marriage). But that just makes the characters' actions, heedless of the future as they are, all the more trite or foolish. In Titanic, on the other hand, we have a couple of swooning kids who, of COURSE, aren't thinking about the future at all, and then suddenly disaster strikes and kills one of them, so that, for the survivor, their love is frozen in time and therefore practically eternal -- but only in hindsight. So Titanic makes a heck of a lot more sense, on that level.

I am not sure that is all that strange. He may have five marriages in his life...but that doesn't mean his ideal. Few people get married with plans for the marriage to be short term. Even if they are on their third or fourth marriage, most people presume "this is the one that will last!"

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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I admit that it is interesting to see the five-times-married Cameron come up with a movie that romanticizes the notion of mating/bonding for life (and not just in marriage).

Great line! Gosh. He's been married FIVE times? Yeesh.

So, you *could* say that the embargo worked to my advantage, and against the studio/publicists. :) I would have been shouting from the rooftops a week ago. Now I've had time to bring the experience into sharper focus.

Nice irony.

Back to the romance: I never ever cared much for Jack and Rose.

To be clear, neither did I. I admired Titanic in spite of its romance, although I realize that element is what kept/keeps so many people coming back to the film.

Avatar's romance feels more genuine, more like a relationship I understand and respect.

I think part of my reaction, as I mentioned to SDG in a PM several days ago, is that the Na'vi, while distinctly human in some sense, still felt alien to me. I hate to open myself up to the charge that other cultures strike me as less than human (the Na'vi are awfully similar to the Native Americans in this film), but these people always felt humanoid (isn't that word in the press materials; I've seen it referenced in some reviews and articles about the film), not human, to me, at least not fully so.

I felt like Jake became more like the humanoid race, rather than seeing the Na'vi as fully human. While that doesn't excuse the way the Na'vi are treated by the humans, I mention it just in the context of the romance, and why that didn't generate much heat. (And really, what did everyone think of the love scene? Tepid! And not just because the film couldn't be "R"-rated. It's just two beings making love, and the audience [or was it just me?] doesn't feel anything). At root, I wish Avatar had spent more time with the human characters, rather than with their Avatar counterparts and with the Na'vi. Sure, Cameron saddles the human characters (and the Na'vi) with stupid dialogue, but I wanted more of Weaver's character, and even more of the one-dimensional Stephen Lang character, who was the highlight of the film, IMHO.

Much of the experience "evaporated" within 48 hours, leaving me with a story that I find too by-the-numbers. It impressively consolidates action-movie cliches, but I'm not sure it enhances them. And its political commentary too convenient, like the stuff of unthinking, brash, Michael-Moore internet commentary on the Iraq war[

Thanks for your honesty. As I alluded to earlier, I think I might have a better response to the film in the future, if only because my expectations won't be out of whack.

I don't think kids today are going to take to Jake Sully and Nyteri and Michelle Rodriguez (Does that character have a name? See? I've already forgotten...) the way we took to Luke, Han, Leia, Ben, and the droids.

Right, although Luke was pretty bland in retrospect. All of us who saw the film when we were 8 years old figured that out a little later, didn't we? Anyway, I think you're right. Rodriguez is totally wasted in this film. It was one of my big disappointments.

Star Wars' bold third-act maneuver - to make the villain redeemable, against the audience expectations and desires - is its masterstroke. Avatar has nothing so bold or redeeming as that.

This is a GREAT point.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I admit that it is interesting to see the five-times-married Cameron come up with a movie that romanticizes the notion of mating/bonding for life (and not just in marriage).

We all have ideals that against which we come up disastrously short in practice. Further, there IS something of the romantic in a man who, having been through no less than four unsuccessful marriages, tries again. Certainly, if all he was after was sex, he could obviously have that without marriage if he was so inclined. At least he is after something real and worth having, even if he has a critical flaw in his character that has prevented him from actually having it.

Edited by bowen
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It is interesting, though, that the one element of the flower-child heritage that the Na'vi do not embody is the sexual revolution, free love, hooking up, etc. In my review I've got a line comparing them to Wendy Pini's Elfquest elves, which I think is generally a helpful comparison, except that Pini's elves are promiscuous and the Na'vi aren't.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Overstreet wrote:

: Yes, the embargoes are off here due to midnight showings.

Well, as per the David Poland piece I excerpted above, the embargo was basically over almost a week ago as far as the studio was concerned, but it seems the regional publicists didn't all get the memo (or not all at the same time).

: Avatar's romance feels more genuine, more like a relationship I understand and respect.

Seriously? I think it's a major flaw -- in Sully's character, though not necessarily in the movie, I guess -- that Sully goes as far as he does with the relationship when he knows, and we know, that he's just a human pretending to be a Na'vi and not an actual Na'vi himself. (And for all the talk of mating for life, I'm not even convinced that a mere avatar CAN mate for life. However, pursuing this line of inquiry could lead to the sorts of quasi-theological debates that people have over, e.g., whether Lois Lane slept with Superman or Clark Kent during his human-not-Kryptonian phase in Superman II.)

Anyway, since we're quoting our e-mails to SDG, here's mine (MILD SPOILERS):

The thing that strikes me the most about this film is how it basically reverses some of the themes and images of earlier Cameron films. Three particular examples of this, significant and trivial, come to mind:

-- Remember the battle between Ripley and the Alien Queen, which Ripley fought with the help of a load-lifter mechanism? The walking battle machines in *this* movie look a lot like those mechanisms... but here, when the load-lifter battles the dark, curved monster, we are supposed to be rooting for the monster and not for the mechanically-enhanced human.

-- Remember how the terrorist was dangling from a missile in True Lies, before Arnold shot him to his death with the words "You're fired"? Once again, a white American pilots a ship of some sort, and a represenative of the "other" -- a guerrilla warrior, perhaps, rather than a terrorist -- briefly dangles from a missile. But again, we are supposed to be rooting for the "other" and not for the person who is ostensibly on "our" side.

-- Remember how one of the key themes of Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the way in which the cyborg -- the hybrid "other" in a war between two different kinds of beings -- became increasingly "humanized" after he was reprogrammed to assist the Connors? Once again, we have a character who is, in some sense, a hybrid of two beings that are locked in conflict, and although he primarily identifies with one side, he increasingly comes to identify with the other side; the difference here is that the character *starts out* as human and increasingly becomes the "other" instead.

FWIW, a few days ago I pitched an article . . . on this film, looking at how it builds on Cameron's earlier treatments of machines as extensions of the human body -- and now that I have seen the film, wow! I have to say that there's more material to work with here than I had expected. On the one hand, there are the humans who build machines and genetically engineer "avatars" as extensions of their individual selves, but then there are the aliens who can literally plug into various creatures, plants, and even each other -- but these "extensions" exist not, as the human extensions do, to puff up their egos but, rather, to connect with the various "others" in their midst and to find some sort of communion with them; indeed, you might say that they subsume their egos by seeing *themselves* as the extensions of the planetary spirit.

. . .

Remember how people complained how unlikely it was that the alien spaceships in Independence Day would have operating systems that could even recognize Jeff Goldblum's virus in the first place? I was having similar questions about, uh, "compatibility" here, when the tendrils rose from the ground and began "connecting" with [a certain human character] ...

. . .

Well, the film is ambiguous on the question of "soul". The spirituality of the Na'vi is essentially "proved" by human science, because there is evidence of neural connections etc. etc. It is implied that if, say, the planet were destroyed, all that spiritual stuff would be gone, too (kind of like how, in the new Star Trek movie, the souls of all the dead Vulcans have presumably been lost forever, now that the planet with the "katra" repository has been obliterated). Just as Sully needs to keep his human body alive in order to exist through his avatar, so too the souls of the Na'vi need their planet in order to survive. (BTW, if the "soul" of the Na'vi planet is dedicated to "protecting the balance of life", and if Earth is a dead, "nothing green" kind of place, then what happened to the soul of *our* planet? Or does our planet even *have* an all-mother?)

One detail I would add to this: In recent years, whenever I have given lectures on the grammar of film, I have sometimes, just for fun, begun with a montage of screen captures that depict the clash of armies -- and in most cases, by far, "our" side moves from the left to the right while "their" side moves from the right to the left. (This is because, in our culture, we read from left to right, so we naturally think of the left as "our" starting point.) One of the interesting things about Avatar's climactic action sequences is that the bad guys, i.e. the humans, move from "our" side on the left to the right, and the good guys, i.e. the Na'vi, typically move from "their" side on the right to the left. So Cameron is, in a way, implicating us in the atrocities of these futuristic humans.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I buy Jake Sully's romance, and like it better than Jack's romance with Rose, simply because Jake is being seduced by Pandora, and in that state of enchantment he really is "in the mood for love." Thus, he is falling in love instead of, um, waging love. So yeah, he does make a rather alarming commitment full of difficult implications. But I found it easier to sympathize with, and forgive, Jake than Jack.

Does everyone else email SDG right after seeing a movie? (Normally when I'm swept away by a movie, I *call* him... but it was just too late in his part of the world when I emerged from this screening.)

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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