Mourning the Magic of Storytelling: a 3D disaster

Last week I didn’t quite finish why I’ve had such problems with my 3D experiences so the following will be an explanation. Let’s start with AVATAR.

Alright, let’s look at the trailer:

This trailer is the best evidence that I can produce to make my case against Avatar. If you notice the trailer has next to no dialogue and only focuses on the wonder that is the simulated environment created by James Cameron and his talented team, there is a reason for that. Many critics have voiced it and I’m about to re-voice it, the movie has no original story (Dances with Wolves, Fern Gully even Pocahontas). No surprise there since Hollywood tends to do this more often than not. Recycled material is just that recycled material but what makes it even more intolerable is that even with it being recycled it seems that James Cameron forgot to invest time in his own script — just focus on the child-like empty dialogue that characters spit at each other.

Let me give you an example just think of the scene when Sigounrey Weaver, Dr. Grace Augustine, gets mad at Giovanni Ribisi, Parker Selfridge for sending Jake Sully – the Jarhead. OH MY GOD. This is when the Soap Opera lights started going off in my head. Here, child-like insults are flying back and forth and Cameron introduces to us yet another one-sided character, Parker Selfridge which of course is the trend in this movie, who’s only motive is to extract the wonder mineral found on Na’vi soil. Of course what else are we to expect from a big-blockbuster hit? Not only did the script have problems but Cameron relied on stereotyped representation of indigenous people to fantasy laden representations of the body. And yet no one seemed to care. 😦

I sat in the theatre thinking to myself — whoa, this is seriously a boy fantasy. The Na’vi women are all nearly naked with athletic bodies, they get to ride dragon-like creatures and everyone has a warrior-like attitude. The fantasy becomes full-circled when the heroine, of course, falls in love with the most desirable female object, the tribe’s leader daughter. Am I forgetting something? Oh yes, the fact that this movie goes back and forth with live-action and a CGI created 3D environment. Heightening the experience in this movie. To many this is what movies are all about – experiencing the ultimate fantasy, a way to forget about the world around us. It is here, in forgetting, that Avatar succeeds.

By mixing a dicey script with fantastical elements Cameron fails in generating a movie with a positive message. The story does have an anti-corporate, pro-environment feel since *spoiler alert* the military and corporation involved in extracting the Na’vi’s magical mineral is defeated in the end, resulting in the human colony heading back to earth. But that’s all you get. You get a sense of it – you are so focused on the simulated environment and so entrenched in the fantastical elements that the dangers of extracting oil, strong corporations, the never-ending struggle in the middle-east also become elements of fantasy. The story may revolve around it but it does not invite you to think about these issues. Plus, the story is set in a far-off future where once again we’ve bled into the space-age and technology has advanced so much that we can be asleep for years on end, travel through space and replicate/embody alien bodies. Removing our sense of reality even further. So the question is asked, is there even a positive message here? Or is it just a plot-device for an action movie?

So here is the start of what 3D is going to be. Another layer to add to my hatred towards escapist Hollywood. Where all they produce is happy endings and regards its audience as children begging to be brain washed with a fantasy. Of course I say this without having seen UP – of which I hear very good things. I just hope one day I’ll be able to sit through a 3D movie and not have the feeling of being insulted.

Tune in next week for another rant on Alice in Wonderland which will be juxtaposed with Edward Scissor Hands.

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