Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So Brinestone and I finally saw Avatar, now that it has come to Redbox, and I am only slightly ashamed to admit that it was actually a lot better than I’d thought. I was expecting 2 hours and 42 minutes of hemorrhage-inducing stupidity, but it turned out to be a fairly entertaining movie. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel too long, and the visual effects were indeed spectacular, even on our standard-definition 26-inch screen.

But (no offense to my friend Dan, who saw the movie about 17 bajillion times in theaters and was personally responsible for about 3 percent of the movie’s gross earnings), I thought the entire thing was one giant cliche—including the plot, characters, and dialog—from beginning to end. Not once was I surprised by anything; you see everything coming from about a mile away, and as a lot of critics have said, it really does feel like it’s little more than a mashup of Pocahontas and Fern Gully. Maybe throw in some Dances with Wolves in there for good measure. But that’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining, despite its predictability.

On a different note, some designers have criticized it for using that most hated of all fonts, Papyrus, in the subtitles and the movie’s title. And while I agree that it’s a bad font that screams, “I’m an amateur!”, in a strange way I think it was actually the perfect font. It’s hackneyed and cliche and almost universally beloved by non-professionals. And it says little more than “I’m vaguely and generically exotic,” which is exactly what Pandora and the Na’vi are.

The planet is described as being worse than hell, but in reality it seems like a rather pleasant and enchanting version of Earth with a few slight twists—the animals mostly look like Earth animals, except they have six legs and breathe through their necks (ooh! exotic!). The plants mostly look like Earth plants, too, except they all luminesce (again: ooh! exotic!). The Na’vi, in the grand tradition of Star Trek, look and act almost exactly like people, but their skin is blue and they have tails. Oh, and there are inexplicable floating mountains and energy fields and some mineral that’s extremely valuable, though we have no idea why. Again: it all has the thin veneer of exoticness, but underneath it’s all comfortably bland, familiar, and unoriginal.

But I still kind of wish I’d seen it in IMAX 3-D.

Blog 6 Replies to “Avatar”
Jonathon Owen


6 thoughts on “Avatar

    Author’s gravatar

    Eh, you’re better off. The 3 D was distracting. I’ve seen it both ways and vastly preferred the 2 D. I do think the animation was amazingly believable. It is interesting everyone complains about the plot and stuff. It means the special effects did their job pretty well.

    Author’s gravatar

    My thoughts EXACTLY. Thank you for expressing how I feel about this movie much better than I ever could have. I tried watching it a second time – I think because we rented it from Blockbuster and had it for the entire week, but after the awe of the special effects and the music had worn off I had to turn it off. I already knew the entire plot and ending before I watched it the first time, the second time was just to enjoy the music and scenery, which only held my attention until the battle at the end.

    side note: I found your blog through a link on Rachel’s. I hope you don’t mind me reading it. I enjoyed your post about “o’clock.” clock – bell – die Glocke. I never made that connection, I guess that is why you study linguistics and I don’t.

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks! And no, I don’t mind you reading at all.

    Ruth suggested watching it again the next day, and I said no. Maybe if it were in high-definition on a big screen so I could better appreciate the effects, but I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to watch it again on our little TV.

    Author’s gravatar

    It’s not that little. ;)

    Author’s gravatar

    But it’s not that big. :p

    Author’s gravatar

    Yup, exactly. And I did even enjoy the 3D, although I usually hate it. (Coraline killed me.)

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