Thursday, December 31, 2009


I see on the poster to the left that the catch-phrase for Avatar is "Believe it, or not." I was reminded of the phrase used in connection Christopher Reeve's Superman: "You'll believe a man can fly." Okay, in both cases, I believed. Especially in Avatar. Not many minutes passed in the movie before I believed that Pandora was entirely real and that instead of watching a screen full of special effects, I was seeing the real thing. It's that good.

The movie's not without problems, especially in the storytelling. Cameron appears to have changed his mind about a potential conflict between two characters in the middle of filming and resolved it with a throwaway line, for example. So what? The story's just an excuse for the visuals, and I was swept away by them and let them carry me along.

SF fans will have fun pointing out all the influences: Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" is certainly there, and so is Clifford Simak's "Desertion' (a favorite of mine). Burroughs, for sure, and a dash of Le Guin, too. John Scalzi? Maybe. And then there are Dances with Wolves and FernGully. Again, so what? It doesn't matter when you're sitting enthralled in the theater. Avatar isn't a great film, but it's wonderful movie-making. You might even find out the old sense of wonder's not dead yet. I know I did.

I'll close this out with Seepy Benton's commentary on the film:
"By the way, the word 'Na'vi' used in the film is also the Hebrew word for 'prophet.' It literally means 'mouthpiece' which is how a prophet was viewed in ancient times, as someone who became a mouthpiece or 'avatar' for God's voice. Also, 'Eywah,' the name of the diety of the Na'vi in the film, is an alternate pronunciation of the Hebrew 'Yahweh.' Recall that in Hebrew there are no vowels, and hence, you can take the same spelling for 'Yahweh' and pronounce it instead as 'Eywah' or Yaywah.' By the way, 'Yaywah' is also the most sacred name for God in the Cherokee language, and that name, too, was only pronounced by their priests. Of course, all of this information will be on the test next week."


George said...

I had pretty much the same reaction to AVATAR as you did. Eye-popping special effects, second-rate plot. But James Cameron knows how to make a movie you can lose yourself in for a couple of hours.

Seepy Benton said...

And the Tree of Life / "burning bush" imagery was so obvious it didn't need mentioning. In fact, I'm not even mentioning it now. I'm only mentioning that I'm not mentioning it. In my opinion, "Avatar" is the greatest movie since "Barbarella!"

Max Allan Collins said...

Did not care for this. Far too long, laughable cardboard villainy, and irritating pointless voiceover. For me, it was like watching somebody else play a video game.

In a head-to-head with the similarly themed, also CGI-heavy DISTRICT 9, the latter film triumphs where the former just keeps inventing new ways to wear out its welcome.

Charlieopera said...

Seepy, what are you doing here?

Review of Murder in Four Parts domani at my joint. Very enjoyable read the wife took over immediately upon my finished it.

I can't stand special effects (film or otherwise--hate big stage production operas even more) so I won't see Avatar. The boss, however, loves them and will be seeing it ... and then telling me about it (and what a curmudgeon I am for insisting the realm of reality exist in anything I read/view, etc.).


Speaking of which ... Adrienne Barbeau, Mr. Crider. What a pleasant surprise. Let's see this big shot director pull off a Swamp Thing (one of the greatest films of all time) ... then I'll be impressed.

Have a great & SAFE new year.

Bill Crider said...

I hear they're going to remake SWAM THING. It won't be the same w/o Ms. Barbeau.

Thanks for the kind words about the book!

Stephen Blotner said...

I'll have to see it again. However, visually, this was enjoyable (though the story is a little bit silly because the serious topics and the tribe accepting a new person who was, after all, a strict outsider, seemed glossed over. I agree with Mr. Collins about the video game aspect). District 9 and Avatar were enjoyable, but D-9 a bit more original.

Quite an enjoyment overall.

Anonymous said...

To go and see Avatar as an entertainment venue which it is was fantastic. Way to much thinking aboout whats real or factual or biblical. Great entertainment for sure