Island Packet — ‘Avatar” is lame. You know it, I know it, portions of James Cameron’s animatronic exoskeleton know it. By contrast, though, and in the interest of objectivity, here is an incomplete list of people who seemingly don’t know it: billions of moviegoers all over the planet, the lucrative international market and the important movie-industry people who will spend the better part of the next two months passing expensive awards around crowds of themselves.
Whatever. I am no stranger to standing alone when it comes to the hating of highly popular movies — seriously, two rum-and-cokes and one mention of “Forrest Gump” and I am not responsible for whatever happens to your carpet — so let me take this opportunity to start the local post-Golden Globes pre-Oscars “Avatar” backlash.
Well, technically I can’t start it, as I am already behind the Vatican, whose movie reviewer — who incidentally has the cushiest gig ever, except for having to see all those Kirk Cameron films — called the sci-fi throwdown “simplistic,” adding that the film “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.” This officially marks the first time in about 20 years me and the Vatican are totally eye-to-eye on something, which means the introductory brunch at the 2010 Vatican City Humor Columnists Seminar should hopefully be a little less awkward.)
Anyway, the point is, “Avatar” is dumb. It is, as my wife succinctly put it, a corny combination of “Return of the Jedi” and “Ferngully.” It is eight hours long, all characters are played by an iMac (including Sigourney Weaver) and every frame is filled with the suffocating sense of bruising self-importance you would expect from maybe Sarah Palin. Yes, it looks great, and so does Blake Lively, and both she and “Avatar” become distinctly less attractive when their talking-sounds begin.
Moreover, It is the kind of movie in which I, a viewer fully behind the film’s ecology-centered pseudo-doctrines, found myself in the end rooting actively for the military-industrial complex to exterminate the stretchy blue people and their USB-cord hair. Now that’s not their fault, mind you, they seem like nice hippies, it’s just that the way James Cameron makes them talk, using extended proclamations of patronizing importance, made me wish for something terrible to happen to them, hopefully by vampires.
This would never happen, of course, because nothing in “Avatar” happens one step off of schedule. All the dead characters expire on such a reliable schedule that the one time a character so clearly marked for death appeared to come away undamaged, I found myself genuinely surprised, until 10 seconds later when it was revealed that this character did in fact absorb a mortal wound. Tricky, Cameron! Tricky!
Actually, I should take that back: One thing happens unusually in this film, and that is that people are getting sick by it: some moviegoers in New York have reported that the film’s 3-D effects were giving them vertigo. I complained of the same reaction every time the Angry Halliburton Man talked (OK, the army is evil I SWEAR TO YOU, I GET IT).
Here’s something else odd: some fans have experienced, according to a CNN story, “depression and suicidal thoughts” after seeing the film and realizing that their home planet barely deserves mention in the same breath as the mystical world Pandora. On one site, the topic “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” received more than 1,000 posts. I would make a mean-spirited joke here, had I not succumbed to the same sort of confusion following “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.”
I’m kidding, of course, but as we line up to lavish great praise on an overlong computer program this awards season, let us all keep these things in mind:
- It’s a movie
- It’s a simplistic, predictable movie and
- I’m sorry about what I said over there, Blake Lively. don’t hate me.