Ok, I know this is damn late, but it needs to be said.
AVATAR IS A BELOW AVERAGE MOVIE.
Ok, now let's move on to the why.
When the trailer for Avatar finally surfaced I was very underwhelmed. The cgi looked somewhat like a highend video game trailer ala World of Warcraft. The characters could have also been plucked directly from Azeroth. Super-tall, blue thundercats. Then come the reviews. Overwhelmingly positive when averaged. Could I have been wrong about this? Was there actually a great movie in here somewhere? Did James Cameron make a huge comeback?
Well, if you look at the international earnings, you can say financially, he did. But is it a great movie? Fuck no. I think normally I probably wouldn't be worked up about this movie if everyone and their grandma didn't think it was the best movie ever made. And yes, that is no exaggeration, I've had people say that to me.
Let me give you a little metaphor. Ok, say you're at a party and someone takes a huge steaming smelly shit in the center of the room. You know, shit stinks, hell everyone knows shit stinks right? And you proclaim, "oh man, what the hell, that shit stinks!" Then everyone looks at you like you kicked a baby. They swear up and down that the big pile of human excrement in the center of the room does not stink, and they go about their business. You stand there in utter shock and dismay at wondering why no one else thinks shit stinks.
Now that that's taken care of, let's move on.
First of all, you may be saying, "Mr. Black, you already said you didn't like the movie trailer, so when you saw the final release you had already made your decision."
Sure, that's an honest concern. But I really didn't go out to hate this film. Usually when something gets rated above 50% on a meta rating site, like Rotten Tomatoes, I generally feel that it must be good enough to see, if half of the people thought it was worth watching. And in the past this has worked quite well. I can't think of the last movie--with the exception of Avatar--on one of these sites with a fairly high rating has underwhelmed me. So seeing the 80%+ score on RT, there clearly must be a good movie in there.
So I head on over to the theater to check this thing out. Granted my expectations were already pretty low, so I figured I'd like it more than I thought anyway. Damn was I wrong.
Everything from the story to the character design was awful. James Cameron should not have had any creative involvement with this movie aside from his role as director. The creature/character designs should have been in the hands of someone else, and the script, I think that speaks for itself.
I won't go into detail about why the story was bad, I'm sure you've seen that parodied all of the Internet since it's release. From it's comparisons to Dances With Wolves, to Fern Gully, to Pocahontas, there is no redeeming value in the writing here. No unique take on that classic.
Rather than writing lengthy paragraphs, I'll present my hatred in a more orderly fashion.
Character design: completely unoriginal and cartoonish. A really bad thundercat/gumby hybrid. And really James Cameron, since they were low-tech savages they must wield generic spears, shoot bows and arrows, have braids, and even talk with an obviously African accent? Come on man, that's 2nd grade creativity there.
Creature design: once again a completely missed opportunity. When the skies the limit why do you decided to make aliened version of what we have on earth? Every goddamned creature in that movie has an earthly counterpart, from panthers, tigers, rhinos, monkeys, birds, etc. Why not go crazy with it? Hell, you had Neville Page, one of the most creative creature designers working in hollywood today. What a fucking waste.
Environment: Once again, a waste. You have the ability to create an entire 3d world and you choose to recreate South America. Brilliant. With the exception of a few alien plants, most of the surface was populated with plain old trees.
Characters: You have the badass military commander complete with scar over one eye, the geeky capitalist, the scientific sympathizers, and the unlikely hero. Once again, kudos you fucking jackass for a complete waste.
That being said, this is (inflation unaccounted for), the most successful film in history. So just like the Wii, Avatar paves the way for mediocrity to run rampant.
Fuck you James Cameron.
Come on man, you know just as well as I do this movie was all about marketability. James Cameron wanted a movie that catered to as many people as he could reach. Its was safe, clean and a guaranteed blockbuster. You don't disappear for as long as Cameron did to work on such an all consuming project without making damn sure you'll get your money back.
Now i'm not defending him on this but i'm not shocked either. Would I have preferred a more engaging movie? Hell yes. But I don't feel cheated for not getting one as I wasn't expecting much going into it.
The design of the aliens didn't really bug me that much but I wouldn't have cried if they had taken a more ballsy approach ala District 9. Now that is a movie about aliens. And as Mr. Black had mentioned once, the characters in that film were just as capable of invoking a strong emotional connection without puss-in-boots baby kitty eyes. What I like in District 9 was that they weren't trying to manipulate me. I can't sympathize with blue kittens who live in a spirit tree who are about to be evicted by cartoon villains for their "Unobtainium".
Hey, James, the fact that you think i'm not emotionally intelligent enough to connect to something unless it's cute is insulting.
I'm just going to say one last thing. James, you are a great director capable of making great films, please leave the shitty CG cartoons to George Lucas.