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Friday, October 1, 2010

Movie Review - Clash of the Titans

I understand the desire to want to remake a movie. Especially a movie that had great potential but just didn't live up to it's promise or a move that lived up to it's potential but do to the passage of time and the advances in technology, the film just feels dated and "silly". I get it.

The original Clash of the Titans was a fun movie with a cool concept. Plus, it had a great cast and it was playing with Greek Mythology. I'm no pagan but Greek Mythology is cool. But it had that Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation that, sadly, dated the film as soon as it was released. And it had that annoying owl. Yes, I hated the owl. Why? Cuz it was the filmmaker's way of inserting the C-3PO/R2-D2 of Greek "maybe" mythology into the film. F--- that bird.

Anyway, I liked it but felt like if there was any movie that could do with an update, it was CotT. You know, stick to the general story and characters but update the special effects and action. I mean, the story was pretty solid. You had romance, you had the call to adventure, you had the giving of gifts, you had honor and sacrifice, you had heroism and redemption and humbleness. All those things that make a great heroic epic...great.

Oh, but no. These assholes had to make their own "version" of CotT. Instead of it being about a heroism, it turns to that old saw of revenge. And anger. And rebellion. Damn the gods! What have they ever done for us Greeks?

Except give us life. A place to live. Animals and plants to eat. Free will to do what we choose. Even who we worship (there's a whole pantheon after all). And a whole lot more.


The General Plot

You see, in this version, Zeus has created humans to glorify the gods. That's it. He loves mankind and their prayers keep the gods alive.

Wait a minute. If that's true, how in Zeus's name did they live before Zeus created man? I mean, if they need mankind to live, how did they live before mankind? How did the gods, already living, know they needed to make man to keep them alive even though they were already alive?

Ah, the first stupid point of the movie. And it's at about the fifteen second point.

You see, they clearly explain in the opening introduction that Zeus and his siblings defeated his father Cronus and the Titans for control of the heavens and earth. They took ownership of Mount Olympus and earth and the oceans and the underworld. Zeus became lord overall. Poseidon owned the seas. And Hades got shafted in the underworld.

Somewhere in there they say Hades created the Kraken and it defeated the Titans. Not Zeus and his mighty thunderbolts or the cyclopes or the other children of Cronus. Nope, just the Kraken. Which Hades made. Ah, revisionist mythology.

Next!

Somewhere after defeating the Titans, humans were made and quickly became little bitches who hated the gods. We're told that it's because they felt like they were slaves to the gods. So man wants to throw the yoke of the gods off. Want to do things THEIR WAY!

Granted, the gods did some crazy shit to mankind in the myths. But in this film they don't show any of that. They don't show the gods actually treating the people as slaves. They don't show any mistreatment of mankind at all, ever, throughout the entire film, by the gods. Even Hades kind of has a reason to lay some ass whup on the humans.

Actually, what they show kind of makes man look like, well, a bunch of self-righteous assholes.

Example: King Acrisius, Perseus's true father, has declared war on the gods. Why, I have no idea. But he's done it. So, Zeus, being a little pissed off at the rebellion, swoops down and impersonates Acrisius and does his wife and impregnates her with the soon to be Perseus. Acrisius, even more angry that the god he's declared war on for reasons WE DON'T KNOW has done this than the original reason for the war apparently, decides to murder his wife and throw the newborn baby with her in a casket into the sea. Did Zeus act like a dick? Sure. But no where in there are we told why Acrisius is a flaming asshole fighting the gods and then murdering his wife for thinking Zeus was him. Later on, when Acrisius becomes Calibos (a significant change from the original) he's a mad idiot with power given from Hades to hunt down Perseus, his own son, and kill him. Again, we don't know why he's doing this other than he hates the gods. When in reality, this idiot has created his own living hell through his own stupid actions (based on the information we've been given). Later, he fights Perseus (who doesn't know who the hell he is; lost father/son drama moment there) and loses. Before he dies, he tells Perseus not to become one of them (the gods). Huh? How about don't do what I did and be a short-tempered, rash asshole who kills his own wife and tried to kill you several times, my son, cuz I hate your god-infused blood. Yeah, don't be like me. Instead, he says, don't be like them. Ah, whatever.

Anyway, Perseus learns he's a demi-god at the same time Hades threatens to destroy Argos with the Kraken. They've got until the next eclipse to sacrifice the princess or else DOOM! This, of course, is the suggested strategy to get people praying to the gods again. Nothing motivates like some good old fashion terror and fear. Yee-haw!

Perseus has a choice. Do nothing or do something. Well, once he learns his bloodline, he's offended because he hates the gods, too. Everyone we see hates the gods, even the demi-gods. Cuz the gods are assholes or something. He blames them for the death of his adopted father (more on that idiot later). So what's he decide to do? Yeah, he decides he's going to kill the Kraken and kill Hades and spit in Zeus's eyes. Cuz he's angry. Angry I tell you! Great.


Hades's Plot for Revenge

This is another line of logic that fails to make sense. Hades tells Zeus that the prayers they need to live can only be encouraged through fear. So that means releasing the Kraken and scaring the holy shit out of the people. But then Hades demands a sacrifice from Argos. Naturally, those who want to LIVE form a cult of Hades and demand the sacrifice of the princess to save their own skins. These new found prayers to Hades give him enough strength to overthrow Zeus apparently.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And he's just doing this now? And Zeus never thought that some other gods could be strengthened by individual devotions? After all, he allowed pantheistic worship. Stupid pagans.

Look, Hades created the Kraken. Created it. Why does he need Zeus to release it? Why doesn't he just MAKE ANOTHER ONE? Why doesn't he unleash his harpies on mankind and scare them to prayers? Why doesn't he release the dead? Also, are there no Cults of Hades anywhere before this threat? Bullshit. There are death worshipers everywhere. Hello! Kali! I saw Temple of Doom.

This was a silly way to make the gods more central to the story. What they should have done was portray Hades as the hater of mankind. He could have conspired to convince Zeus the humans weren't worth keeping. Then there would have been a test. Perseus would redeem mankind and prove their worth. Kind of like Job. There would have been internal conflict and external conflict. Gods who love and hate humans and humans who love and hate the gods. See, there are two sides to every coin. Not just one. Do it this way and there would be an arc for all of the characters.

Oh, wait. They need prayers to live. Right.


Perseus' Stupid Adopted Dad

Spyros finds the coffin baby Perseus and momma were tossed into the sea in. Saves the kid. Mom is already tits-up. Too bad.

Fast forward a dozen years. Spyros is a struggling fisherman. Perseus is a brooding kid.

Fast forward another so many years. Spyros is a shitty fisherman. Perseus tells him he pretty much sucks and is old and laughs. Spyros laughs back.

Then Spyros does something completely stupid and makes no sense to the advancement of his character or plot other than to serve as fuel to Perseus’s later hatred for the gods. Spyros hauls in an empty net and wonders when Zeus or Poseidon are going to give him bounty. He says he prays and gets nothing. Then he whines. And bitches. And moans. His wife tells him to shut up. But no, this old pussy keeps complaining. Says the gods have denied man too long. Says someday, someone is going to take a stand against them.

Stand against what? Is there a god embargo on fish? Is Poseidon secretly cutting your nets opens?

All of this originates from an empty fishing net. Huh?

Hey asshole, how about you realize YOU SUCK AS A FISHERMAN! Hey asshole, how about you LEARN A DIFFERENT TRADE SINCE YOU SUCK AS A FISHERMAN! Hey asshole, how about you fish WHERE THE FISH ARE!

Nope. Just whines. In front of his kids. Die already.

Basically Spyros is bitching because he wants a welfare state and the gods aren't complying. Why even fish then? Why not just stand on the beach and shake your fists at the sky and say, "Yo, where my fishes at, bitch!"

Lame. Lazy. Horrible writing. It would have been more convincing if Spyros was a pious man who loses his wife to a god and then questions his faith. That makes sense. It's called internal conflict. Like the white guy who hates racism and then his wife gets raped by some gang-bangers and he turns, you know, a bit racist. Internal conflict. The heart goes through dark phases. Light, dark, light. Instead, we get a whiny asshole who just keeps whining and then dies. Bad farts are better.

Perseus continues his adopted father's tradition. Angry. Angry. Rageful. Spiteful. Whiny. Will this asshole please die. Damn. Angry. Spiteful.


Characterization

The Greeks in this film are portrayed as pretty much secular assholes who want nothing more than to be selfish narcissists and turn themselves into gods. There, I said it. Oh, wait, so did the Queen of Argos right before Hades turns her into an old woman. She says, Yo why do we need the gods. Screw them. We are the gods.

Oh, Lucifer?

Anyway, you'd think this would serve as a wake up call to her fellow citizens. Damn, maybe we went the wrong way. Yeah, the gods do messed up shit but just maybe we're kind of, you know, pissing them off. If they love us so much, like the narrator KEEPS TELLING US, maybe we should be HUMBLE and they'll realize they've treated us a bit harshly. Or something like that.

Nope.

The moment the King realizes there's a demi-god in his court, he saddles up and begs Perseus to go find a way to kill the Kraken. No repentence. No, hey Zeus, sorry. Could you call your brother off? Nope, just go kill and serve mankind.

Whatever.


Perseus's Revenge Doesn't Make Any Sense

Perseus wants revenge on the gods for killing Spyros and his adopted brood. But here's the dirty little secret: something provoked Hades's little tirade. You see, Argos, once again, declared war on the gods. This is illustrated by a bunch of Argos soldiers toppling a statue of Zeus on a cliff. It falls into the sea and nearly capsizes Spyros's fishing boat. Then Hades unleashes his harpies and they fuck up them Argos bitches. Then Hades appears, surveys his destruction, notices the boat, and destroys it, too.

Yes, Perseus can be pissed at Hades. But really, he should be pissed at the Argos bitches for provoking, you know, the God of Death. Don't poke the bear, right?

Doesn't even enter his mind. Even when he's in the Argos Court, surrounded by the survivors who knocked that statue down. Shit, if it was me and I just found out I was a demi-god, I'd be raining a little hate and discontent on Argos's arrogant little king whose actions, uh, led to my family's death. Just a suggestion.


Draco Doesn’t Make Any Sense

There’s this guy Draco who is the King of Argos’s security head or something. He turns into the main escort for Perseus as they head out to find the way to kill the Kraken. He’s a stoic brooding character. But you get the sense there’s a lot of wisdom in him. This comes into play when Draco tells Perseus, who he knows is a demi-god, to pray to his father Zeus and end this. Perseus refuses because he doesn’t need the gods to end this. Draco reacts the way most of us would and considers Perseus’s actions selfish but presses on because time is a factor.

So, we finally have the character who understands that this isn’t just about man. This is about man and the gods living peacefully together. This is further reinforced when he tells Perseus to use the magic sword. He’s the only one who can. It is a gift from the gods. Again, Perseus spits and says, “Hell to the no”. Draco huffs and keeps the sword for when Perseus comes to his senses.

Thus far, we have Draco still acting rationally. He wants Perseus to kind of bridge the gap between man and the gods. He doesn’t say this outright but you get the impression he see Perseus as a way of healing the wounds on both sides since he is part god and part man.

Then we get to a scene where Perseus asks Draco why he never smiles. What does Draco say? He’ll smile when he spits in a god’s eye.

What? Wait, the whole movie, Draco has been the voice of reason. He wants Perseus to acknowledge he isn’t a man, he’s both. He wants him to pray and to use the sword and now, all of the sudden, he wants to spit in a god’s eye.

You see, this is nothing more than a throw away line to set up Draco’s later death. He helps kill Medusa. As he is turned to stone, he smiles. See, that’s lazy foreshadowing because it doesn’t fit the character that has been developed at all. The one character that had demonstrated a bit of internal conflict is reduced to another angry Greek who wants to give the gods the finger.

Awesome.


Where are the Rest of the Gods?

Mankind declares war on the gods. And Hades is the one who is out kicking human butt? Why? Shouldn’t someone else be doing this? You know, ARIES, the f-ing GOD OF WAR?

The Kraken is imprisoned in the sea. Shouldn’t Poseidon play a role somewhere in here?

The cult of Hades is sacrificing the princess to what is a sea monster. So, wouldn’t this be a sacrifice to Poseidon?

Where the hell is Poseidon?


Anyway, the movie had some cool special effects and a couple of good actors but overall, it sucked. Oh, and one other thing: there are no titans in this movie. As is the case for the original film, there are no clashes of any titans. None. Remember, the titans are gone. Clash of the Gods is a more appropriate title. But considering how screwed up everything else in this movie was, who really cares about getting the title right?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Movie Evisceration - The Lovely Bones

It’s very rare that a movie pisses me off. Yes, I find movies I hate. Movies that annoy. But for a movie to piss me off, it has to do one thing: betray me.

The Lovely Bones betrayed me therefore it pissed me off.

I actually enjoyed part of the movie. As it neared the halfway point, I started to transition to annoyance. As it rolled toward the climax, I found myself hating it. But then it reached the ending and boy howdy, was I pissed.

Before I explain, SPOILER ALERT. I’m going to ruin this movie. I mean ruin it. Stomp on it. Take it out in my front yard and drop a deuce on it. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want it ruined, please stop reading. Because here we go.


The Plot

The Lovely Bones is about a teenage girl named Susie Salmon. Yes, Salmon. In the movie, she introduces herself as such, “My name is Salmon. Like the fish. First name: Susie.” Now that should sound vaguely familiar. Like maybe they ripped it off.

There was a movie called The Green Mile in which there was a character named Jon Coffey. This movie was, of course, based on a book of the same name by Stephen King. King is well known for creating character with memorable names. He has a way of tying memory devices to names. So, in this case, the character in the movie says, “My name is John Coffey. Like the drink only not spelled the same.” Now we have a memorable name. Not one easily forgotten.

I contest the writers (both book and screenplay) did the same thing here. Only with a dumb name. We remember it, no problem. And it’s kind of cute. Susie Salmon. All rolls together. In and of itself, no big deal. But as soon as I heard her introduce herself I thought, Green Mile. So, I call rip-off.

Anyway, I digress. Susie is dead. No big alert there. She says it right off the bat. She’s dead. Murdered. Looking down on it from somewhere above. Okay, got it. We get the back story, how she was murdered, the impact on the family, the determination of the father to catch the killer, the family falling apart, Susie playing with other victims in heaven, CGI effects, a cliché serial killer, yadda yadda yadda.

In reality, there is no plot. There’s no murder mystery. There’s no intense chase. There’s no resolution. There’s no redemption. There’s no revenge. There’s no sacrifice. This is a story about a family hit by tragedy, ripped apart and sewn back together. That is it. Wow.


The First 1/3 of the Movie

After Susie tells us she’s dead, we get the backstory. She likes a boy. She likes taking photos. We also meet George Harvey, the creepy guy who lives alone and makes doll houses. He designs a bunker. Builds it himself in a cornfield. Then lures Susie into it and kills her, cuts her up, and puts her body in a safe.

We also learn there’s this chick who can like sense dead people or something so that when Susie’s spirit passes her, she senses it. This character has no real purpose in the movie other than to be a convenient device. More on this later.

So the family eventually looks for Susie and the cops look for Susie and George is questioned but there’s no evidence and people are sad and the dad is obsessed and Susie is in this in-between place that isn’t Heaven or Hell but no one calls it Limbo. And she watches all this crap unfold from above while hanging out with the other dead victims of George.

Not the best beginning but not terrible. There’s potential for suspense as dad digs up evidence and starts to suspect George. Meanwhile, we watch the family start to suffer under strain and loss. Then we enter the shitty parts of the movie.


The Second 1/3 of the Movie

At this point, the cops have demonstrated a complete lack of intelligence in deducing who the killer is. The dad suspects but is still digging. Let’s examine the facts:

George is creepy. He has shifty eyes. A comb over. A pornstar moustache. He’s creepy. He makes doll houses. He lives alone. He’s creepy. He mumbles. He has nervous ticks. He’s creepy. He lives in a family neighborhood all by himself. He’s ritualistic. He’s creepy.

The cops talk to him but deduce there’s nothing to go on.

Really? People have been arrested and interrogated on less circumstantial evidence. What’s more they didn’t have to arrest him. A simple search warrant would suffice. Call him a suspect, and get a fucking warrant. I do believe that a search warrant allows the police to search the entire house and contents within. Which includes the blueprints to the bunker and, uh, a safe in the basement containing the human remains of our girl Susie. Even if George plays dumb and can’t remember the combo, the police can call in a safe cracker. Done.

But that wouldn’t be convenient, would it?

Hey asshole, why not keep the safe in your super secret bunker no one can seem to find? Maybe the blueprints, too. Then we could have had smart cops execute a warrant, not find anything and then dismiss you as a creepy suspect. Why, if that happened, then, we wouldn’t have the intense seen of Susie’s sister breaking into your house and finding evidence. Nope, can’t have that. So in the basement it goes. More on that later.

Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor, dad’s obsessive drive has ruined his marriage. Mom, being the chickenshit she is, leaves the ENTIRE family for California. Dad confronts George but accidentally interrupts some teens making nookie in the cornfield and promptly gets the shit kicked out of him. Another convenient event that keeps the heat off George while dad recovers.

In the afterlife, Susie does some shit and there’s CGI.


The Last 1/3 of the Movie

Okay, we’ve moved from not too bad a movie to bad movie over the first 2/3 of the film. Now we descend into true pain. The end. And we learn what pissed me off.

Again, up to this point the only mystery in the film is whether the family will pin the murder on George or will he get away with it. Enter Lindsey, Susie’s sister. She takes it upon herself to find the proof no one else has managed to find. So, she breaks into George’s house. Finds a loose floor board, lifts it up, and discovers the blueprint to the bunker, a lock of Susie’s hair, and several news articles about the murder. All right, the proof. This fucker is going down.

George comes home while Lindsey is still in the house. He hears her. A short but intense chase scene occurs and Lindsey narrowly escapes. George freaks, packs, and hauls ass out of town. First, though, he dumps the safe in a sinkhole on the way out.

While the safe is being dumped, Susie watches and at this moment decides to descend to earth and enter the body of the chick who could sense dead people. And here we have the convenience of all conveniences. This character has served no other purpose in the film other than to act as a vehicle for Susie to make contact with a boy she had a crush on. Not to stop or kill George. Not to tell anyone, “Hey my body is in that safe.” Nope, to say hi to the boy and get a kiss. Her last wish. Gosh.

The boy realizes it’s her and is cool with it. Not freaked out. Not jumping up and down screaming, “What the fuck?! What the fuck?!” He’s all like, “Susie, it’s been too long.” And she’s like, “Yeah, kiss me you brooding fucker.”

You have to remember, these two literally shared a minute of time together at the beginning of the film before Susie was killed and dismembered. They flirted. They had an interest in each other. There’s was no bond of love established. No eternal tie. This scene made no sense other than to give Susie’s earthly life a bit of closure. Even then, though, it would have made more sense for her to go back and say bye to her dad. You know, the guy who’s been hunting down proof of your murder. Yeah, Susie, you selfish bitch, how about saying bye to your loved ones instead of getting your groove on?

Now I haven’t read the book but understand it took this scene one step further. They didn’t just kiss. Susie and boy-toy go off and shag. What the fuck? Now you have to remember that Susie is in another chick’s body. So, was the chick cool with letting Susie bang her current boyfriend with her body? If not, does this count as rape? Does this count at necrophilia? Is Susie still fourteen mentally? Is this pedophilia? Why would she wait until that moment to descend and screw? Why hasn’t she been doing it all along? Why, why, why?

Lindsey returns home, ready to show the proof. But wait, mom’s back. The selfish bitch Susie so clearly takes after. She’s back because dad has had a heart attack. Guess she wants to make up. Or maybe she realized she’s a selfish bitch and that she should be raising her kids, not her alcoholic mother. So, no big reveal of evidence. Instead, we get a reunion. Super.

As a result of the reunion, Lindsey gives the evidence to grandma while everyone else stands and looks at mom. What does grandma do? Nothing. Nothing at all that we know of. The movie never shows. No cops in a room asking about the status of an APB or a manhunt or anything. Instead, the movie shifts to George sometime later, somewhere cold, trying to coax a young girl into his car. She tells him no and walks off. As he watches her go, an icicle drops off a tree branch and knocks him into a ravine where he dies.

Yes, he is killed by a convenient icicle and no one knows he dies.

Fuck you Peter Jackson and whoever wrote the book.

Back at Wayne Manor, the family has moved on and is rebuilding relationships. Swell. Susie is in the afterlife watching everyone move on with their lives and healing and overcoming the loss of Susie. She refers to these as lovely bones growing around her absence. Yeah, whatever.

The movie thus ends.


Why I Feel Betrayed

The movie pissed me off because it ends with no real resolution. All the story arcs close separately from each other and one does not depend on the other. It doesn’t come full circle. George dies but no one knows it, thus the family is robbed of justice and closure on that front. The family moves on knowing George did it and he may still be out there doing it to other kids. Susie moves on happy knowing the family has healed but with her final resting spot still a mystery to everyone but her and George. The ending is like a shoulder shrug. Ah, well. It doesn’t always end with a nice-neat bow.

Well, screw that. You’ve gone through the trouble of creating this world where a girl is brutally raped and murdered only to have her killer offed by a Deus Ex Machina? You’ve given none of your characters, not one, any sense of sacrifice or vindication or redemption or justice. You’ve fucking betrayed your audience.


Bad Afterlife Logic

When Susie dies, she goes to an afterlife place called “the in-between”, aka Limbo. She is there alone at first. Then meets another little girl. Then more. Come to find out, they are all victims of George.

What’s wrong with this picture?

You see, in the book, it’s referred to as Susie’s personal heaven.

Okay, if it’s personal how do other people get in there? People she’s never ever met. Ever. It isn’t like the end of LOST where all the characters meet up in Purgatory before moving on. After all, those characters had deep-rooted connections. They knew each other. It made sense (even if you hated it).

But here, not so much. Susie is dead and if she’s in a personal heaven, people she knows and loves should be there. Which means she’d be alone cuz everyone else is still alive.

That’s a small point. A larger one is the incredible selfish nature a personal heaven is. Oh, I get it. It’s godless. Only the individual matters so it can be whatever that person wants. Awesome. More selfishness from selfish Susie.

The biggest point, though, is that if all of George’s victims are in this personal heaven doesn’t that mean it’s not really their personal heaven. I mean, let’s look at this. If George has killed these girls and they end up in the same place and no one else is there, does that not mean they are in George’s personal heaven.? Which would be more like hell to them. Which would mean Susie and the girls would be more actively trying to get George caught and killed to free them from this hell.

Yeah, that’d be cool. We’d have the family trying to find the evidence and the victims trying to contact the family to tell them what’s what. There’d be tension while George starts to feel haunted by his victims (cuz they’re trying to off him. Maybe drive him crazy so he kills himself). He’d be questioning his sanity and constantly moving and hiding evidence. Maybe almost get caught a few times. It’d be like a real ghost story/suspense thriller. Then we’d actually have a reason for a character who senses ghosts. And for the ghost to figure out how to enter her. Then we’d have a resolution where George gets his and the family gets justice and Susie and others are vindicated and the audience doesn’t feel cheated or betrayed…

Oh, wait…that didn’t happen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Movie Review - AVATAR

AVATAR is the single most-overrated movie in the history of movies. Writer-Director James Cameron has made the highest grossing movie of all time by stealing and recycling the plot of the noble savage and setting it in space and populating the screen with whiz-bang special effects and explosions while beating the viewer over the head with an environmental theology ripped from the talking points memos of Greenpeace, PETA, and Al Gore.

It is also a big, giant piece of shit.


The Plot

Basically AVATAR is Dances with Wolves/Dune in space. A soldier goes off to a mysterious world, falls in with the local natives, learns their ways, loves one of their women, and essentially becomes a native himself and helps his new brothers and sisters against the white man.

This is not a new plot. Dances with Wolves wasn’t original when it came along. But Dances with Wolves didn’t look like an exact copy of anything. It had key elements of Dune and Lawrence of Arabia but felt original because it was set in the Old West. AVATAR doesn’t feel original at all. It feels like the “ah-shucks” moments of Dances with Wolves thrown into a blender with the bad-ass warrior leading his new tribe against the intergalactic Great Houses from Dune.

Oh, but the comparisons to other movies don’t end there.See also:

The 13th Warrior
Ferngully
Rambo III
Shogun
Lawrence of Arabia
Terminator 2
Titanic
Aliens

What? Wait a minute. Those last three are other James Cameron films. Yeah, Cameron steals from himself. In T2, Ah-nuld plays the Terminator with a heart of gold (thanks to some handy reprogramming). He sheds his cyborg race and takes up with a human to protect him and other good humans from the evils of Cyberdine (a greedy corporation run by evil humans responsible for the World War III) and their avatar, the liquid metal T-1000. In the in-between, there are zany adventures, comic relief, and the winning over of the skeptical (including the audience). Gosh.

In Titanic, Kate Winslet’s character Rose is a young woman from an upper-class family who decides to shed their snobby tentacles and go slumming with Leonardo DiCaprio and his fellow immigrants, ne’er-do-wells, laborers, and whatever other stereotype they could squeeze on board. She falls in love and when the shit hits the fan, decides to stick with the native rather than her family. In return, Leo protects her from the avatar of the greedy upper-class, the liquid metal hair-pieced Billy Zane. In the in-between, there are zany adventures, comic relief, and the winning over of the skeptical (including the audience). Gosh.

In Aliens, Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, a space miner who heads out with Colonial Marines to investigate a mining colony’s status and to determine if her “alien” experience may be happening again. She learns the ways of the Marines, kind of falls for one of them, and gains a new adopted daughter (lone survivor of the colony). When the shit hits the fan, she fights with the Marines to survive and protect her little girl against the greedy corporation (who wants an alien to study) and the object of their desire (the aliens). In the in-between, there are explosions, comic relief, and the winning over of the skeptical (including the audience). Gosh.

Yet I’m not bashing all of those other movies (other than Ferngully. That sucked). If they all had similar-type plots with familiar characters and somewhat predictable endings, why am I not screaming about them?

Because none of those movies portrayed a perfect and over-hyped world populated with lazy characters and writing.



The Setting

AVATAR is set on a planet named Utopia - I mean Pandora. But in the world of the film, Pandora is Utopia. It’s perfect. It’s pretty. It’s filled with mysterious creatures that live in harmony under the protection of a God Tree and floating octopus flowers. There is no evil on the planet. Only good. Except for the humans working for that greedy corporation. They’ve come to Pandora to mine a rare mineral that, apparently, keeps the stock price up and the universe functioning. Their presence and actions have upset the natural order of things. As we all know, humans are the only living thing in the universe incapable of existing peacefully with other things. Especially white humans.

Look at history for example:

Native Americans lived peacefully amongst themselves before Europeans showed up. Oh, wait…


The Japanese never fought until the Europeans and Americans showed up. Oh, wait…

Animals peacefully co-exist. Oh, wait…


Yes, I’m exaggerating but not anymore than the complete exaggeration that is the world Pandora.

What sinks this world for me, too, is the utter lack of grit. It’s too…PRETTY! All the animals are cool looking. All the Na’vi are slim and fit and perfectly BLUE! Where’s the off shade blue ones. The darker blue ones. Where are the fat ones? Where are the dwarf ones? They look like they came off an assembly line.  Or out of a computer.  Wait a minute.

Oh, and they have that cool little USB cable in their hair they can plug into anything on the planet and take complete ownership of it. Wow. Know what that means? Means no domestication. No toughing it out and working hard to raise livestock or work animals. No clearing land for crops cuz they can do whatever they want just by plugging in their hair. Lazy fucking Na’vi, jumping from tree-to-tree, riding birds, and sleeping in their cool spider-web hammocks.



The Characters

Unremarkable and stereotypical.


1. The warrior who finds a new life.


You know, John Dunbar


T.E. Lawrence


LT Dan



Paul Atreides



Josey Wales


Maximus


Robocop


John Winger







2. The girl who falls for the renegade outsider.




You know, Juliet



Catherine Earnshaw


Maria


Stands with a Fist


Princess Leia


Iceman


3.  The corporate scum who will destroy whatever he has to to keep his profit margin in place.


You know, Daniel Plainview



Gordon Gekko



Carter Burke


Seth Brundle


Emperor Palpatine


Emperor Shaddam IV


Ben Bernanke


4.  The bad guy who will do whatever he has to for the corporate scum to win and protect the profit margin.


You know, Frank



Agent Smith



Vladimir Harkonnen


 
Darth Vader


 The Nazgul


Dark Helmet


5.  The actor that does nothing but serve as a tool to dump information.


You know, Q


Basil Exposition





Names

Na’vi. Naïve. I get it. Or is it a rip-off of that helper fairy from The Legend of Zelda. It was named Na’vi. And we all know James Cameron likes to steal things.

Pandora. The woman created so that her descendents would torment mankind as payback for Prometheus giving fire to man. So, the Na’vi are descendents of the planet Pandora and they’re going to torment any human bastard that sets foot on the planet who doesn’t agree with them. Oh, I get it. That’s symbolism.

Unobtanium. The precious mineral that the greedy humans want and just happens to be the thing powering the God Tree. Un-ob-tanium. Are you fuck-ing kid-ding me? Yeah, I know the term is actually used in science to describe an extremely rare and hypothetical mineral or element BUT give it a better name. Hell, Star Trek came up with dilithium. If the corporation had first discovered it and hadn’t given it a name yet, okay, I’d buy unobtanium. But they’ve been mining it for years. Come up with a better name already. Wishalloy. Dreamspice. Spice? Oh, he stole that idea from Dune, too, didn’t he?



James Cameron Steals

This is not new news. He had to pay Harlan Ellison for ripping off the “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier” Outer Limits episodes. Terminator 2 was basically a rip-off of the first movie except a terminator is sent back in time to protect the boy vice a human being sent back in time to protect the mom. And as I’ve already pointed out, he recycles his characters and plots.

Besides the fact there are several lawsuits against Cameron right now for plagiarism, the most blatant theft is that of Dune.  Let me count the ways.

In AVATAR, unobtanium is the end all, be all mineral needed by the humans.
In Dune, the Spice is the end all, be all mineral needed by the humans.

In AVATAR, unobtanium is tied into the special trees on the planet, which happen to be sacred to the Na'vi.
In Dune, the Spice is a bi-product of the sandworms, which happen to be sacred to the Fremen.

In AVATAR, the Na'vi ride these big f-ing birds.
In Dune, the Fremen ride these big f-ing worms.

In AVATAR, the Na-vi have to pass a rite of passage by calling and riding a big f-ing bird.
In Dune, the Fremem have to pass a rite of passage by calling and riding a big f-ing worm.

In AVATAR, Jake is taken in, taught the Na'vi ways, and loved by a female Na'vi.
In Dune, Paul is taken in, taught the Fremen ways, and loved by a female Fremen.

In AVATAR, Jake Sully becomes Jake the Na'vi imitator and finally Jake the fully blooded Na'vi after he beams his consciousness fully into the avatar body permanently with a little help from the Tree God. He becomes the Na'vi messiah and liberates Pandora.
In Dune, Paul becomes Paul Muad'Dib when he joins the Fremen and finally The Kwisatz Haderach when he drinks the Water of Life.  He becomes the Fremen's messiah and liberates Arrakis.

In AVATAR, Jake teaches the Na'vi tactics to defeat the humans.
In Dune, Paul teaches the Fremen tactics to defeat the humans.

In AVATAR, Jake has to fight the big badass one-on-one at the end in a knife fight.
In Dune, Paul has to fight the big badass one-on-one at the end in a knife fight.

In AVATAR, Jake and the Na'vi force the rest of the opposing humans to leave for good.
In Dune, Paul forces the rest of the opposing humans to leave for good.


Pandora Doesn't Make Any Sense

Okay, we know it's a perfect world but nothing that happens on the planet makes any sense.

First, why are the Na'vi blue?  I mean, they live in the rain forest.  If you're a believer in adaption, you'd think their skin color would have changed to something that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in the jungle.  And why are all Na'vi blue?  Even the ones living near the ocean and other places around the planet are the same blue.  No differences.  No change to reflect the environment they're in.  Didn't make sense.

Second, how did the Na'vi learn to fight?  If it's such a perfect peaceful planet, why do they have warriors?  Seems like they'd be a little bit more passive.

Third, why do the Na'vi need weapons?  If they can literally take control of any animal, there is no reason to have bows and arrows.  They can just jump on its back and hook-up the USB cable and think, "Lay down and let me slice your throat."  All done.

Fourth, the Na'vi live in the rain forest up in the tall trees.  Not the mountains.  Not the open ranges.  Yet their rite of passage is riding a bird.  Doesn't make sense.  It should be riding that panther thing.  The ones living by the ocean should be riding whales or whatever.  The ones in the open ranges should be riding birds.  In canopy jungle, the panther makes more sense.

Five, why aren't all the Na'vi on the planet one big tribe.  In a perfect world, are there any differences?  Sounds like all of them should be on the same page.




Modern Topics Delivered with a Sledgehammer-Like Approach

Phrases like "fight terror with terror" and "shock and awe" and "their world isn't green anymore".  Oh, give me a fucking break. 


Final Conclusion

Pandora needs to be liberated from the Na'vi.  Yes, you heard it here first.  The Na'vi have subjugated the creatures of Pandora long enough.  Their USB cable allows them to enslave everything on the planet at their whim.  It isn't a shared consciousness.  It's the Na'vi enforcing their will on the creatures of the land.  They usurp control and make them fight wars they may be against or fly to places they may hate or attack humans that may be there to free them.

Freedom for all of Pandora!  Not just the power-hungry Na'vi and their tree deity.  Not just for the human sympathizers.  But ALL OF PANDORA!

I hope in the sequel the humans return and unleash hate and discontent on those blue fuckers.  Take them down a peg or two.  Remind them who the boss in the universe is.  It'd be a hell of a better movie, that's for sure.