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Posts Tagged ‘James Cameron’

And Big, 30 Foot Smurfs!

I figured since I rambled on and on about The Abyss the other day, I should devote a post to Avatar now that I’ve finally seen it.

I noticed Avatar described as “Dances With Smurfs” on Twitter … which I’ve since worked out is a reference to a South Park parody that I haven’t seen. It fits, though. Only the Smurfs are huge hence my immediate mental connection to the line from “Naked and Famous” by the Presidents of the United States of America “…and big, 30 foot Smurfs!” That song is now on an endless loop in my head. Thanks, Twitter.

Visually and technically, Avatar was beyond awesome. I saw it in 3D which is how its meant to be seen. I could not imagine seeing it any other way. Where the CGI components of the newer installments of Star Wars were jarring and cartoonish, Avatar was practically seamless.  It was, quite simply, beautiful.  I think about how hokey the groundbreaking stuff that was in The Abyss looks now and how that set the bar for so many scifi films after it … and wonder how freaking cool are movies going to look in our near future thanks to this flick?  James Cameron is definitely good at raising the bar for visual effects and technical genius in Hollywood.

Having said that … the plot was simplistic and unoriginal. Think Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves. Think Ferngully. No, wait, don’t think too much, you might ruin it for yourself. Ok, it wasn’t that bad … it just requires a fair amount of brain switch off to enjoy it … however, the effects are very good at assisting such brain switch off. Its very easy to fall into the awesomeness of the effects and just accept the cheesy simplistic plot. However, I am also a cynical bitch so I didn’t do that completely. I fell into inappropriate giggle fits at the sheer corniness of it all. The nerd in me also would like to know a few things like: If the planet has low gravity then how come people are able to “stick” to the ground enough to walk yet mountains float?  Where the hell is the sun and why is the planet not being sucked into the gravitational pull of the truly GINORMOUS gas giant it appears to orbit? If it is orbiting a gas giant then how the hell does it sustain life? How the holy fuck do these avatar bodies even work? If the year this is supposed to take place is less than 150 years from now, then how did humans manage to burn out Earth, detect life sustaining planets, achieve interplanetary space travel, find something to mine on another planet, set up a base on said planet, and work out how to combine human and Naveen DNA to make avatars that link to a human’s brain in such a short amount of time (all, presumably, while Earth was burned out and wars were being faught)?

I have to admit that the geek in me also enjoys having these things to nitpick and discuss after watching a movie so it wasn’t a total FAIL. As simplistic and corny as the plot was, I thoroughly enjoyed Avatar. The effects alone are enough for that. I highly recommend seeing it *in the cinema* in 3D. James Cameron might be a simplistic fool but he certainly makes pretty movies.

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“What’s that,” you say, “is she really going to ramble on about a 20 year old movie?” Why, yes, yes I am. Besides the fact that its my blog and I’ll ramble on about what I want … oh, wait, that is the only reason. There is a spoiler alert for anyone who has been living under a rock for the last 20 years and, thus, managed to *not* see The Abyss.

What prompted me to watch The Abyss for the first time in years was the current hype about Avatar (which I haven’t yet seen). I am quite irritated by the fact that Avatar is being advertised as being “from the director of Titanic.” Um, what? Titanic is *hardly* James Cameron’s best flick (nor is it all that relevant to a scifi film like Avatar). Titanic, while lavish, well costumed, technically well shot and with jaw dropping set design (notice I say nothing of the pathetic “plot” or the piss weak acting) is not a movie I feel should be used as a benchmark for much. I mean, yeah, it was brain candy entertainment but it did not deserve the hype it got.

To me, The Abyss is James Cameron’s best movie and, arguably, one of the best movies OF ALL TIME. It had it all (great performances, directing and groundbreaking effects) but most importantly, it had that *quality.* You know the one I mean… the *quality* that makes you cry/laugh/cringe with suspense like the first time everytime you see it regardless of the fact that you know what’s going to happen. There is something about the way The Abyss is shot and acted that just hits a chord for me every single time. Particularly the scene near the end when they realise that Bud doesn’t have enough oxygen toget back up to the rig after disarming the nuclear warhead. Lindsay tells him to try anyway and he types out “knew this was a one way trip but I had to come. Love you   Wife” I bawl every single time despite the fact that I know he gets saved and he and Lindsay live happily ever after (or they do in my head … in reality they’d probably get that divorce three years later or something). I fall in love with Bud’s character every time I see him stick his hand into that toilet of blue water to fish his wedding ring back out early on in the film. And then later, when that very wedding ring ends up saving him from being trapped in the compartment that floods, my heart skips a beat. Moments like that are, to me, signs of a great, classic flick. A movie that will always be relevant long after the groundbreaking effects look hokey and the plot seems overdone.

Let us not forget the significance and sheer awesomeness of Lindsay’s character, either. She is, to put it bluntly, MADE OF AWESOME. She’s fierce, confident, smart as hell and doesn’t take shit from anyone but she is also vulnerable, human. She is *perceived* as an Ice Queen Bitch by those around her like so many strong women in male dominated fields but she is not characterised as one. She enters the scene in pantyhose, heels and skirt suit … her corporate attire. But, she quickly changes into what she wears  for the rest of the movie: a shapeless tank top, a baggy denim shirt, trackie pants, sneakers, frizzy unkempt hair, no make up to speak of. In other words, she’s *real.* We are not expected to believe that a woman goes flouncing about an underwater oil rig in a push up bra, impossibly perfect hair and lipstick … because she wouldn’t. The sad fact is that most movies (especially those made lately) would have you believe that she would and it drives me up the freaking wall! Lindsay’s character is a rarity in Hollywood, unfortunately. All too often a character who is as smart, confident, etc as Lindsay is written into a script (I think) but ruined in the execution by the glam effect of the hair, makeup, push up bra, wishy washy lines that undercut the original characterisation, etc. I wish there were more female characters in Hollywood blockbusters that looked and acted like Lindsay.

Of course, I don’t think that The Abyss is a flawless movie by far. There are plenty of groan worthy moments of FAIL. Most notably, the race FAIL I noticed last night (I can’t believe I missed it before). In the scenes of people running from the tsunamis at the end of the movie, we are meant to believe its happening all over the world. However, I couldn’t help but notice that we are shown primarily white people running on resort looking beaches or wealthy looking cities in broad daylight. The only difference to this pattern was the scene of people in Russia running from the tsunami: Russian naval personel in a shipyard at night. Its so naive and simplistic, one just has to laugh.I also can’t help but wonder why the hell Bud was the one to go down to disarm the warhead (aside from the obvious being that he was the hero character and, thus, had to save the world). I mean, seriously, there were two Navy Seals left. They had trained with the liquid oxygen and knew how to disarm the weapon. Why the fuck didn’t one of *them* go? These things (along with Michael Biehn’s stylin’ porn mustache) are the inevitable flaws that give me something to think about, talk about, laugh about, though. No movie is perfect … especially not a James Cameron movie. 🙂 Despite its flaws, though, I maintain that The Abyss is one of the best movies of all time.

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