Avatar MAG

January 3, 2010
By karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
48 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
— Pablo Picasso


James Cameron's highly anticipated epic, “Avatar,” raises the question: Are special effects enough to launch a new era in filmmaking?

In terms of storyline, the plot offers nothing new: once again, greedy Americans are exploiting new lands for valuable resources, and disturbing the natives. The protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), works for a big corporation but soon finds himself befriending the natives, falling in love, and growing distant from his people because he identifies with the natives' way of life more than his own.

Sound familiar? That's because this story has been recycled time and time again. We see it in our history in the settlers' treatment of Native Americans, and it is the plot of the 1990 film “Dances with Wolves.” Cameron has acknowledged Avatar's similarities to “Dances with Wolves,” which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Taking into account that Cameron's own “Titanic” won 11 Academy Awards, you can see where this is heading.

In Cameron's rendition, the natives are a species of alien called the Na'vi. Essentially, the aliens are a gimmick; aside from their sparkly blue skin, extreme height, and tails they are completely uninspired reincarnations of Native Americans. The Na'vi even dress like ­Native Americans, use bows and arrows, live in close-knit family tribes, are spiritually connected to nature, and are threatened by the imperialistic, capitalistic white men because they stand in the way of precious resources. With this story set in the future in outer space, Cameron had the opportunity to formulate truly new and creative creatures but instead opted for imitation and unoriginality.

“Avatar” deviates from its predecessors, though, in its simplicity, character development (or lack thereof), and tone. The distinction between good and bad is riddled with clichés and one-dimensional characters that make for a predictable outcome. While the film could have emphasized Jake's moral dilemma, he actually has no trouble deciding his loyalties, showing how “Avatar” sacrifices reality and the truth about human nature for the formulaic ingredients of a feel-good audience pleaser. At the same time, Cameron spoonfeeds the audience environmental awareness and lessons on the dangers of war, making “Avatar” preachy and, at times, tedious.

Of course, the film is not without its merits. Cameron himself modestly told The New Yorker that his special effects work is “the most complicated stuff anyone's ever done.” And he has succeeded in creating a new world of sparkling colors, fantastic creatures, and breathtaking landscapes.

Does a film this unoriginal deserve the accolades it is receiving from audiences and critics alike? Is it really a breakthrough in filmmaking? Filmmaking is an art with many aspects, special effects being just one. We will see come Oscar time what the Academy thinks, and only time will tell whether “Avatar” becomes a true classic.


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This article has 6 comments.


on Apr. 26 2010 at 10:22 am
MusicLover2012 SILVER, Beloit, Kansas
6 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
Nathaniel Ayers: Beauty is art; music is beauty.

Nathaniel Ayers: You can't hold down angels.

Steve Lopez: A year ago, I met a man who was down on his luck and thought I might be able to help him. I don't know th

JUST SO EVERYONE IS CLEAR THIS MOVIE SOLD 6.7 MILLION COPIES IN THE FIRST 4 DAYS!!!!!!

Someone said...
on Mar. 28 2010 at 10:51 am
I thought the movie Avatar was amazing

on Mar. 4 2010 at 6:53 pm
karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
48 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
— Pablo Picasso

Yeah. No originality at all!

on Mar. 4 2010 at 6:43 pm
StanHubertson, Oak Park, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 29 comments
Ugh...this movie. It's basically Pocahontas with Aliens...

on Feb. 25 2010 at 1:40 pm
karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
48 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
— Pablo Picasso

*People who don't watch a lot of the classic and/or very acclaimed films are usually swept away by any new movies they SEE and are very easily impressed.

on Feb. 25 2010 at 1:37 pm
karen_xo PLATINUM, West Chester, Pennsylvania
48 articles 7 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."
— Pablo Picasso

From the author: I know this film has a lot of fans, so before one of you posts about why Avatar is so amazing, just let me say that I've heard that argument too many times and don't need to hear it again. This is simply my opinion and I have backed it up with much evidence (however, the editors took some of it out).

I explained the overwhelming critical response with: "Cameron has been working on Avatar since 1994, and it is his first feature film since Titanic, so the hype surrounding this film is unbelievable." Mainstream critics like big-name directors, especially this one who has been in hiding for so long.

The Academy also likes big-name directors, which is why Avatar will probably, and unfortunately, win Best Picture. There were so many other better movies last year, but they stand in the shadow of the famous Cameron.

Finally, you can't really say that a certain film is revolutionary, etc. if you don't have a strong knowledge of film history. People who don't watch a lot of films are usually swept away by any new movies they say and are very easily impressed. I am NOT easily impressed, hence this review.


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