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Old 04-25-2010, 10:18 AM
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Default A Brief Evaluation Of 'Avatar.'

Hey I never saw this sub-forum, glad I found it. Anyway a few weeks ago I put together a small analysis piece on Avatar, so here it is:

April 10, 2010

A critical evaluation of “Avatar”

I believe it is necessary for me to post this, not because I want to, although I do, but more-so to silence those who rubbish Avatar in my face, which can get rather frustrating. So here is my attempt to share the best of the film and the impact it has had on movie-making and society. I’m not a big movie buff, but I’ll give it a go.

■ Plot

Wow, the plot is cliché, yup, we know that. We have seen this plotline before, one movie comes to mind immediately, Dances with Wolves. I have no problem with this, as the plot is so powerful and in my opinion needs to be told over and over again, unto each new generation. What really makes Avatar’s plot so powerful is the storyline and universe in which the plot is found, it is such a beautiful story. That justifies the plotline entirely. The director, James Cameron invented this story in the early 1990′s, so that cuts out any movies made after 1994 with a similar plot. Cameron is excused in my eyes, the world he built upon the bare plotline would have required some in-depth thought. Something he obviously would have to put a lot of time into. To be honest, the cliché is something you have to look for, it doesn’t strike you throughout the movie, like clichés generally do. That is simply because the overtone of the storyline eliminates that.

■ Dialogue

YEAH BABY GET SUM!!!!! – Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet

I didn’t even notice that on my first viewing of the movie, but on subsequent occasions I looked out for it. I managed to find the same stupid Jarhead say it on more than one occasion. To be honest, I didn’t think to myself cliché, because I was too busy laughing. Corny material gives me a good laugh. But you may ask, why am I defending the dialogue if I’m exploiting it? Simple, this is the only poor dialogue in the film, there is even justification behind this foul act. Well, what is the justification? It was Ryan Piccirillo on his blog “freshman denial” that first justified it.
It is a view that I also share. That simply is, “YEAH BABY GET SUM” is exactly the kind of thing a brute jarhead would say, and even more-so in film. So before you immediately say, hey, that is cliché and corny. Sit back and look at the context, that is all that matters.

■ Characters

The characters of this movie may seem simple, but I’ve got a better word. Clearly cut. That would be the best way to describe them. The main character of this movies, Jake Sully, has only limited character development. But the main theme of Jake’s is freedom, the ability to express himself how he had always wanted to. We see this as he enters his Avatar for the first time. Jake is a marine and at some point during his career his legs were blown off. He was then disabled. But after he connects with his Avatar for the first time, he can run again, so he does so immediately. We see the freedom fill his being as it once did. Throughout the movie we see some character development of other characters, such as Neytiri. But not a lot.


Fear not, I also picked up several hints throughout the film that could lead to major character development in sequel and/or prequel movies, which have been confirmed by the way. An example of this is the photo of Dr Grace Augustine’s school. In which we see grace, Neytiri and Neytiri’s sister, the latter having no character development at all and was not seen in the movie. Could we see her in subsequent films? If not, I am confident that there will be extended character development for many of the main characters.

■ Setting

There isn’t much to say about the setting really. Other than it is absolutely amazing. The planet of Pandora is teeming with life, both beautiful and ferocious. Compared to our own planet, Pandora is infinitely better in terms of wildlife and plant life. Everywhere you look there is bioluminescence.


"Your not in Kansas anymore, this is Pandora"!
The beautiful native race of the planet, the Na’vi, are painted in such high stead, their native habitat is stunning. This is likely to highlight how in touch with the environment and naturalized the Na’vi are. The humans are painted in the opposite light, their large bulldozers are seen crushing forests and such. The scourge of Pandora as it were.

■ Themes

The themes of this film are very relevent to today’s society and I would say the movies strongpoint. I’m going to cover a few, like imperialism, anti-war and such. I’ll start by bulleting each different theme.

■ Imperialism

Imperialism is basically an economic or political empire crushing a weaker culture for its own benefit. I’m sure that you can already see how imperialism relates to Avatar. But before I elaborate on that, I want to take you back to historical examples.



This can be seen when the Europeans subjugated the native American tribes from the late 1400′s onwards. A more powerful organisation, with more advanced technology, invaded a smaller less advanced organisation to gain resources and further wealth. So how do we see this in Avatar? The Resources Development Administration (RDA), who represent the humans in the movie, are a powerful interstellar organisation, they start mining operations on Pandora. This eventually reaches a climax when the natives are inadvertently stopping the RDA from mining the resources they want. So, then we see imperialism, as the RDA try to crush the natives with hired mercenaries so they can get at their resources. People have also labeled the Iraq and Afghanistan wars imperialistic, saying that the more powerful western countries are crushing the middle east to get at their oil.

■ Anti-patriotism

Some tabloids likened the felling of the Na’vi hometree to be similar to the destruction of the world trade centres. People have labeled the film anti-american and such, but here is what I say to them. “Your naive idiots, deal with it”. Here is why these people are impeccably short-sighted, they immediately took the film as anti-american because the humans were portrayed as an american war machine, which was defeated at the end of the film.



Many saw the connection between the felling of hometree and that of the world trade centres.
My question to them is why don’t you see what is right in front of you? The RDA is a ‘inter-stellar’ corporate empire, not America. That american war machine would be the same one in Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn’t it? Well I can tell you that the one seen in Avatar and the one seen in the present day are fundamentally different. If anything its pro-america, can you draw the parallels between the felling of hometree and of the world trade centres, I can.

■ Environmentalism

Avatar certainly is the most flashy retelling of any environmental message that I have seen. I applaud that, if there is any way to get across such a message then Cameron went the right way about getting it across. Organisations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherds are boring at best.



A film like Avatar is the best way to get across the environmental message. It highlights how the brutal humans barge in and take whatever they want, whilst in the process destroying the environment. It is a mirror image of what is happening in the present day, the destruction of species, the destruction of the environment in general. This issue isn’t particularly important to me, evolution has let us down. It isn’t our fault.

■ Impact on movie making

If there is one fundamental thing that will come out of Avatar, it is a revolution in movie making. The CGI used to make the movie is groundbreaking new technology, along with 3D cameras, designed to enhance the 3D quality. The movie utilized a massive budget, highest estimates are at 310 million dollars, but it payed off, as the movie grossed 2.7 billion worldwide, making it the highest gross ever. This one thing is certain, filmmaking will forever be revolutionized because of Avatar.


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Last edited by Spock; 04-25-2010 at 10:20 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2010, 01:06 PM
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Thanks for posting the analysis Spock. It's good to see someone add to our little collection.

Your analysis was an interesting read and I agree with all that you said. In fact, I am sure you could have said a lot more.

With regards to the plot, I have never understood the argument that it is just a copy of another movie. When watching Avatar, it never occured to me that it was like another movie, basically because I was so engrossed with the story and visuals.

It was only after watching the movie that I compared it to others that had gone before. But not as a criticism, but more as an interesting observation which can often enhance the experience of watching the movie.

I personally like the story because it is simple, has nice ending, has nice characters and has a twist in that the humans are not the beacon of all that is good like in most other Sc-fi.

In the end, the "unoriginal" argument is irrelevant. for three reasons.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a truly original movie. I really would like to know what the favourite movies are of people who use this argument in a negative way. I bet the stories of these movies could easily be picked apart as required.

Secondly, whether a story has apparently been done before on not is irrelevant to determining Universal quality. Each individual either likes the story or they don't. Either position is valid from the view of personal taste. I love the story. But I can sympathise with (if not agree with or understand) those who do not like Avatar for some reason. But what I don't like is when they bring up the "unoriginal plot" argument as some sort of psuedo-intellectual justification for not appreciating the movie.

Three, even if a aspects of a plot are similar to something that has been done before, that does not mean it will cause a negative reaction. There are some fans of Avatar who like the movie precisely because it reminds them of Dances with Wolves. For them, the similariy adds to their enjoyment.

Personally, I don't see any comparison between DwW and Avatar. I found DwW to be dull and long winded, while Avatar was vibrant and full of life. I personally don't see any similarity between the movies because the feelings I have for the two movies are so different. (By the way i am not bashing DwW here as what I say is just personal opinion. I am just using it as an example to explain my point).

Finally, I think its a bit naive to assume that the fall of Hometree is supposed to be a parallel to 9/11. I personally believe it is a plot device, where an attack on the protagonist's people is so destructive and indescrminiate, that it completely changes the atmosphere, direction and emotional state of the protagonist.

There are similar events in previous movies which were much more destuctive than the fall of Hometree and which were in movies before 9/11. I think the fall of Hometree is more akin to the followng few examples:

Starship Troopers - Buenos Aires is destroyed by a meteor sent by the Arachnids
Armagedon - Paris is destoyed by a Meteor
Star Wars - The destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star
Independence Day - The attack on the cities by the aliens

I personally find it hard to compare the fall of Hometree to 9/11. The attack on Hometree was perpetrated openly by an invader with superior armaments on a weaker enemy with the intention of occupying the land rather than to cause terror itself. 9/11 was perpetrated by a terrist organisation on a strong enemy simply to cause terror. There are little similarities between the two attacks except for the emotional effect on the victims.

If anything, the attack on Tree of Souls had more in common with 9/11 because the purpose of the attack was to case terror (or shock and awe).

Last edited by neytirifanboy; 04-25-2010 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neytirifanboy View Post
Thanks for posting the analysis Spock. It's good to see someone add to our little collection.

Your analysis was an interesting read and I agree with all that you said. In fact, I am sure you could have said a lot more.

With regards to the plot, I have never understood the argument that it is just a copy of another movie. When watching Avatar, it never occured to me that it was like another movie, basically because I was so engrossed with the story and visuals.

It was only after watching the movie that I compared it to others that had gone before. But not as a criticism, but more as an interesting observation which can often enhance the experience of watching the movie.

I personally like the story because it is simple, has nice ending, has nice characters and has a twist in that the humans are not the beacon of all that is good like in most other Sc-fi.

In the end, the "unoriginal" argument is irrelevant. for three reasons.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a truly original movie. I really would like to know what the favourite movies are of people who use this argument in a negative way. I bet the stories of these movies could easily be picked apart as required.

Secondly, whether a story has apparently been done before on not is irrelevant to determining Universal quality. Each individual either likes the story or they don't. Either position is valid from the view of personal taste. I love the story. But I can sympathise with (if not agree with or understand) those who do not like Avatar for some reason. But what I don't like is when they bring up the "unoriginal plot" argument as some sort of psuedo-intellectual justification for not appreciating the movie.

Three, even if a aspects of a plot are similar to something that has been done before, that does not mean it will cause a negative reaction. There are some fans of Avatar who like the movie precisely because it reminds them of Dances with Wolves. For them, the similariy adds to their enjoyment.

Personally, I don't see any comparison between DwW and Avatar. I found DwW to be dull and long winded, while Avatar was vibrant and full of life. I personally don't see any similarity between the movies because the feelings I have for the two movies are so different. (By the way i am not bashing DwW here as what I say is just personal opinion. I am just using it as an example to explain my point).

Finally, I think its a bit naive to assume that the fall of Hometree is supposed to be a parallel to 9/11. I personally believe it is a plot device, where an attack on the protagonist's people is so destructive and indescrminiate, that it completely changes the atmosphere, direction and emotional state of the protagonist.

There are similar events in previous movies which were much more destuctive than the fall of Hometree and which were in movies before 9/11. I think the fall of Hometree is more akin to the followng few examples:

Starship Troopers - Buenos Aires is destroyed by a meteor sent by the Arachnids
Armagedon - Paris is destoyed by a Meteor
Star Wars - The destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star
Independence Day - The attack on the cities by the aliens

I personally find it hard to compare the fall of Hometree to 9/11. The attack on Hometree was perpetrated openly by an invader with superior armaments on a weaker enemy with the intention of occupying the land rather than to cause terror itself. 9/11 was perpetrated by a terrist organisation on a strong enemy simply to cause terror. There are little similarities between the two attacks except for the emotional effect on the victims.

If anything, the attack on Tree of Souls had more in common with 9/11 because the purpose of the attack was to case terror (or shock and awe).
Yes, that is why I called it a brief evalutation. I also didn't want it to turn into a rebuttal of criticisms.



Edit: Just before I go. The hometree felling can be attributed to the 9/11 attacks, just from a different viewpoint. In fact the ToS and Hometree attacks are rather similar. We could also argue that the good colonel's goal was to cause pain during the hometree attack, although I am not a psychologist. Never the less, the possibilities are vast, the parallels that can be drawn between avatar and the real world are numerous.
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Last edited by Spock; 04-26-2010 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:25 PM
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I've never watched Dances with Wolves, but I read the plot on Wikipedia, I can't really see the similarity other than a very vague, 'person changes sides after realising he's working with the wrong people'.

As for dialogue, I really didn't consider anything bad. Yes, Wainfleet is an idiot, but he's meant to be - he's a marine who enjoys killing people far too much, he's meant to be what is wrong with humanity.

I completely agree on themes, except for one thing:
Quote:
Organisations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherds are boring at best.
Rather than them being boring, I dislike them because they are actually harming the cause they claim to promote.

As for the impact on film making, I agree, Avatar will completely change it. It's like when the first films were made with sound, or in colour, it's a huge leap forward.
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Spock View Post
Yes, that is why I called it a brief evalutation. I also didn't want it to turn into a rebuttal of criticisms.



Edit: Just before I go. The hometree felling can be attributed to the 9/11 attacks, just from a different viewpoint. In fact the ToS and Hometree attacks are rather similar. We could also argue that the good colonel's goal was to cause pain during the hometree attack, although I am not a psychologist. Never the less, the possibilities are vast, the parallels that can be drawn between avatar and the real world are numerous.
actually, I would say most of my response supports your point.

I would say from the dialogue that the main reason for the Hometree attack was a dirty land grab. while the attack on the Tree of souls was more a pre-emptive punitive raid.

So I think the principle motives were different, at least to Selfridge. But you may be right that Quaritch had other reasons to attack Hometree as he was obviously seemed to want to start a fight. But what Quaritch's real motives are are difficult to determine for sure.

Last edited by neytirifanboy; 04-26-2010 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
I've never watched Dances with Wolves, but I read the plot on Wikipedia, I can't really see the similarity other than a very vague, 'person changes sides after realising he's working with the wrong people'.

As for dialogue, I really didn't consider anything bad. Yes, Wainfleet is an idiot, but he's meant to be - he's a marine who enjoys killing people far too much, he's meant to be what is wrong with humanity.

I completely agree on themes, except for one thing:

Rather than them being boring, I dislike them because they are actually harming the cause they claim to promote.

As for the impact on film making, I agree, Avatar will completely change it. It's like when the first films were made with sound, or in colour, it's a huge leap forward.
Yeah true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neytirifanboy View Post
actually, I would say most of my response supports your point.

I would say from the dialogue that the main reason for the Hometree attack was a dirty land grab. while the attack on the Tree of souls was more a pre-emptive punitive raid.

So I think the principle motives were different, at least to Selfridge. But you may be right that Quaritch had other reasons to attack Hometree as he was obviously seemed to want to start a fight. But what Quaritch's real motives are are difficult to determine for sure.
On the surface at least. But save it for political debates I think.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by neytirifanboy View Post
But what Quaritch's real motives are are difficult to determine for sure.
Revenge. He got those scars his first day on Pandora, they look like some creature clawed him bad. He must have been through hell, lost in the jungle at night with only an exopack and no knowledge of how to survive.

I think he has brain damage, it looks like the wounds were deep.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by joeylovesgaia View Post
Revenge. He got those scars his first day on Pandora, they look like some creature clawed him bad. He must have been through hell, lost in the jungle at night with only an exopack and no knowledge of how to survive.

I think he has brain damage, it looks like the wounds were deep.
Revenge is certainly a realistic motivation from Quaritch. Pandora got him, and he wants to show he is stronger.

I never thought of brain damage. But it is certainly not impossible.

At the very least, we can assume he was affected psycologically.

In many ways, Quaritch was dominated by some of the worst of human emotions and desires: vengeance, fear and ambition. A potent mix indeed.
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Old 05-14-2010, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by neytirifanboy View Post
Revenge is certainly a realistic motivation from Quaritch. Pandora got him, and he wants to show he is stronger.

I never thought of brain damage. But it is certainly not impossible.

At the very least, we can assume he was affected psycologically.

In many ways, Quaritch was dominated by some of the worst of human emotions and desires: vengeance, fear and ambition. A potent mix indeed.
Yes, and did you notice where the scars were? Right over the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for rational judgment. Factor in the bad case of post traumatic stress disorder he likely has, and you can see why he's a sadistic, raging loony.

The only question now is why didn't RDA relieve him of duty. An injury to the brain like that obviously leaves him unfit for command.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by joeylovesgaia View Post
Yes, and did you notice where the scars were? Right over the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for rational judgment. Factor in the bad case of post traumatic stress disorder he likely has, and you can see why he's a sadistic, raging loony.

The only question now is why didn't RDA relieve him of duty. An injury to the brain like that obviously leaves him unfit for command.
What you say about the scars is interesting and may indeed be a factor to the way he acts.

There is another thing that comes to mind and that is how your typical RDA employee sees Pandora. I am not talking about the scientists or Jake who have Avatars and/or are there because they are passionate about aliens worlds.

I am talking about your average miner or soldier. For them Pandora is not a forest wonderland. It is a very dangerous environment where you are risking your life every day just being there. Each time they go to sleep, they may worry that there could be a breach that could sufficate them in their sleep. Each time they go outside they may worry that some creature may gett through the Hells gate defenses and slaughter them. And that's not even counting th soldiers who have to actually go into the forest. For them nervousness and abject terror must be a constant state of mind.

It is easy to forget this because we really see the movie from the point of view of somone who loves Pandora and can live there. We only get a glimpse of what other things through Quaritch, Selfridge and to a lesser extent Wainfleet. And especially considering Quaritch's attitude, I presume that he is not alone in the way he thinks and in fact her reflects what most non-scientisits think and feel.

Because The others must fear fro their lives every day and this must have an emotional impact on them. I am sure for many of them, Quaritch must seem a good leader because he appears confident of getting the better of Pandora. This may lead many of them see Quaritch's attitude in a positive way.

However, this is of course mistaken. uaritch is a manipulator who actually increases their fears, and thus making the other depend on him. That may be why he dislikes the scientists so much. Because he cannot influence them in the same way since they see Pandora from a compelty different view point.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spock View Post
Hey I never saw this sub-forum, glad I found it. Anyway a few weeks ago I put together a small analysis piece on Avatar, so here it is:
A nice analysis, Spock. I enjoyed reading it and the subsequent discussion that sprang from it. Well done! This is a nice addition to the Commentary section.
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