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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Against Avatar

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 2:13 PM

1262204109-filmlead_avatar-570.jpg

I fell for it, you fell for it, everyone fell for it. It was Jon Stewart, not usually a person to fall for shit, talking about how Avatar has "reinvented filmmaking" (before he'd even seen it), that led me to the theater.

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As you can see, the story of James Cameron making Avatar has pretty much been the marketing strategy for Avatar, which is ingenious, because (1) Cameron's career, post-Titanic, was in need of some re-marketing, and (2) Americans are obsessed with careers, especially Hollywood careers, and (3) the story of Avatar itself is so unworthy of the three hours the movie takes that you can't seriously talk about the movie as, like, great storytelling.

Granted, there are nice things about it. The liberal propaganda it contains is exactly the sort of liberal propaganda you want Hollywood to be peddling. Sam Worthington is the most attractive person currently living. The lady aliens have shapely, fully articulated breasts, and there's a lady-alien crotch shot that a straight friend of mine apparently is never going to stop talking about. Lots of people I like liked it. But come on, people. The story is trite. The dialogue is abysmal. The thing goes on and on and on (and on and on), in furtherance of a plot that makes Disney's Pocahontas seem virtuosic. And the new cameras used to capture the facial gestures of the actors—the ones that have ostensibly "changed filmmaking forever"—don't capture nearly the nuance that a regular camera pointed at a regular face does.

And what if you see it in 3-D? It's even more annoying, since all you're watching is 3-D applied to a movie that was not made for 3-D. Here's how you can tell. You know how, in any movie, sometimes an object in the foreground will be out of focus and an object in the distance will be in focus? To establish distance between the two objects? Well, in a 3-D movie, you don't have to do that—you can establish depth (one object in the distance and one object close up) without having to make either of them blurry. That's why you have 3-D movies. In Avatar, there are tons of these gorgeous little floating jellyfish-like seedling things, and sometimes they swim through the foreground, out-of-focus, while a scene is going on behind them. But if you see Avatar in 3-D, the jellyfish float by out of focus. A big, out-of-focus blob coming toward you. Reinvented-filmmaking-forever fail!

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