The Hurt Locker Vs. Avatar

Perceptive readers should be able to figure out which of these two movies I would give a Best Picture Oscar to. It would be a sweet jab in Cameron’s eye if his ex-wife won for her much better movie Hurt Locker. Avatard, despite its billion dollar plus haul, is a typical bloated CGI-fest with stilted crappy dialogue, a cliched plot, 2D acting, and a stale retread late 60s noble savage ideology masking a wish fulfillment for the world to turn into dinner parties featuring Sidney Poitier as the guest of honor. The Hurt Locker, by contrast, cost a lot less to make and was infinitely more gripping. I wonder if Cameron could see the irony in making a technologically wiz-bang movie that extolled the virtue of living nobly amongst the roots of a giant tree.

Ways that Avatar sucked:

  1. $500 million to make and you couldn’t find a decent writer? Fo real? Throw me a few thou and I’ll spice up that dialogue so fast it’ll have moms covering their children’s ears and Roger Ebert jizzing in his pants with giddy excitement. Cameron has said he didn’t want to “alienate” his audience with tricky intellectual dialogue. If he’s right, then that says nothing good about the taste of the modern movie-going audience. We are morphing into a land of lowest common denominator retards. Hollywood’s current mission to make blockbusters as accessible as possible to all the riff raff across the globe isn’t helping matters either. Perhaps a little paleocon isolationism would do wonders for Hollywood’s artistic quality. If he’s wrong, then it says something about James Cameron — namely, that as a true blue nerd, he has a tin ear for good writing and doesn’t much give a shit either. Who could blame him when people are throwing money at his dreck?
  2. The “white man bad, white American military man badder” theme has been done to death, Cameron old boy. It’s not any more ingenious or convincing when told through the use of computer generated blue faces. Have you looked in a mirror lately? When you do, do you get depressed that you were even born? Guilt is such a useless emotion, but it’s downright caustic when the guiltridden attempt to foist their purile emotions onto everyone else.
  3. The supposed visual and creative brilliance of the N’avi and their home planet is overblown. The creatures are touched up extras from Jurassic Park and the airborn islands are straight outta various sci-fi lore and Dungeons and Dragons. The plants are neon. Yay. A great sign that a visual artist is creatively bankrupt is when he starts slapping on extra legs to all his creatures.
  4. Cameron loves the hyperrealism of his expensive CGI, so why can’t he see that there is no way in hell a bunch of half naked warriors riding flesh and blood winged creatures armed with bows and arows are going to defeat heavily armored gunships? I like an underdog story as much as the next guy, but at least throw a bone to those of us who are working hard to suspend our disbelief.
  5. People in the SWPL audience for this movie actually clapped appreciatively after the “preemptively fight terror with terror” line was delivered by the scarfaced badguy sergeant — quite possibly the stupidest and lamest line of dialogue I have heard in a movie since “I’m king of the world!”.

So why is Avatar making so much money? Well, it isn’t all bad. Visually, it is a sight. The CGI is such that I was able to enjoy the world onscreen without getting pulled out of it by any obvious-looking flaws in the rendering. The technology is now advanced enough to avoid the uncanny valley. The pacing and editing are good. Cameron, if nothing else, has a solid feel for action and storytelling, no matter how bad the source material. This is the guy who after all gave the world one of the greatest movies of all time — Terminator. (First of the series, only.) The slasher flic cum industrial atmosphere in Terminator was perfection.

You can’t discount marketing hype either. Avatar was marketed to death and that’s sometimes all it takes to get the money machine rolling for a subpar movie that otherwise might not have made that much. It’s similar to the game concept of preselection. A bunch of dudes hear about how great this movie is going to be, and they want to ride. Although from what I understand, adjusted for inflation Avatar’s box office is not as impressive as it sounds.

So here’s to Oscar success for The Hurt Locker and District 9, two movies superior in almost every way to Avatar.

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