Friday, December 25, 2009

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, your movie is ready...

Bobbi and I just got back from seeing White Guilt In 3-D, a.k.a. Dances With Aliens.

All the villains are white guys, and they all work for Astroburton or Spacewater, to boot. The big hero is also a white guy, but with the saving grace of being... er, differently-abled. Our big hero loves him some noble savages, who are much wiser than he.

At first the noble savages spurn our big hero and treat him like a child, but then at a critical moment he suddenly dives through a giant plot hole to tame the wild deus ex machina and win their undying loyalty in the middle of the movie, since apparently none of the wogs had thought of doing what he did, despite him being a total novice to their granola-munching, Gaia-lovin', jungle-dwelling ways. The aliens are intriguing, but my intrigue kept getting interrupted by the way the movie whipsaws violently between worshiping them and patronizing them. I'd have rather seen a straight up Nature Channel documentary shot on the planet instead of Pocahontas Does Polyphemus.

In 3-D, it will induce palm sweat in acrophobes, or at least it did in this one; I can't imagine what it was like in IMAX 3D. The eye candy is stunning, over the top, state of the art, and moves the goalposts so far that George Lucas probably stroked out when he saw it. If you can shut off your higher brain functions, the story line will suck you in.

I only blurted out one line during the whole movie: Our hero and his buddies are fleeing in a sci-fi version of a Hughes Apache, and the Chief Evil Capitalist White Guy is shooting at them with a rifle. "Shoot back, you idiots!", I blurted, loud enough to annoy my fellow patrons, no doubt. They didn't, of course, and thus the movie lasted another forty-five minutes.

Two reluctant thumbs up. I wanted to hate this movie so badly, but it's so pretty and so immersive that I accidentally had a really good time. If I could do it again, though, I'd wear my Blackwater hat to the theater...

28 comments:

Fenris said...

I know what you mean.

Still, I enjoyed the movie despite.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Et tu, Brute?

Tam said...

My biggest gripe was that all the fauna on the planet was truly alien: well thought out, and all obviously derived from hexapedal stock...

...except the Na'vi themselves, who are ten-foot-tall blue humanoids with tales and very obviously... er... mammalian.

Tam said...

"tails" even, dammit!

Earl said...

Cat-like people was the point I had a little trouble with, but then there was so much good killing and tearing everything up and then getting rid of the evil Democratic (for themselves only) master race humans was satisfaction in itself, didn't the storyline say they had introduced public education and malls?

0g said...

Hey, it's a longstanding tradition of SciFi(or SF if you're a purist) to send messages, ignoring Sam Goldwyn. But those movies have so very often been very entertaining movies. I'm all for entertainment, so long as I can taste the kool-ade without drinking it by the gallon.

WV:Nookierv. What a tall blue alien wants to get a little of on saturday night.

BryanP said...

I've heard that it's a good brain-free popcorn flick and you confirm that.

So far my favorite summary/review of the movie is:

Best. Ferngully. Remake. Ever.

Anonymous said...

My only blurt out was near the end of the movie after the big damn fight... I let slip "nuke it for orbit, It's the only way to be sure"

Anonymous said...

It was rather a poor remake of ferngully, that movie at least had a proper villan for the human to join in fighting.


Not trying to agrue here, just make a point, That point being that the movie could have been improved by the careful application of some, you know actual writing

Ambulance Driver said...

Dances With Aliens

Heh. I thought the same thing.

Peter said...

I saw it in 2-D with one of my friends (depth perception problems with his eyes, so 3-D will have to be with a second friend). But he pointed out a theory that I want to look for on my rewatch: (some spoilers)

Every connection/affiliation that the Na'vi had with nature, the Humans had created with technology.

There is only one overt human to tech connection (at the climax, the Colonel has his right shoulder on fire when he climbs into the Mech, then the Mech's right shoulder is aflame as he jumps from the ship.)
But for every pterodactyl that the natives have, there is a heli. for every ta'rok, a dragon-painted gunship.
Where the Na'vi commune with nature, humand are looking at sensors. Even the way humans get into the Na'vi bodies to the way Jake does it ate the end.

Cameron may not have intended it, but what this showed was how Humans should embrace technology and how it is humanity's future.

WV: waturin: I be waturin my lawn.

Jeff said...

IMAX is Amazing.

I was glad to see the Marines still yelling GitSome while strafing the natives with machineguns in 2154.

I did a pretty good job of ignoring the tree hugging crap, the 3D was almost overwhelming. It didn't help that I was in the third row (apparently everyone else in Vegas decided to go to the movies today too.)

I'm going back to get a better seat next time. Best $16 movie ticket I've ever got.

reflectoscope said...

Hughes? A taste for the classics, I take it?

Jim

Tam said...

"Hughes? A taste for the classics, I take it?"

My age is showing, isn't it? ;)

Noah D said...

I dunno, I'll still give it a pass. $10 for 2h40m of beautiful stupid doesn't reach my 'worth it' tipping point. Sure, I paid $60 for Modern Warfare 2, whose plot made about as much sense (and had almost as much 'audience is the bad guy' BS), but I've gotten...er, lots more than 2h40m out of that...

Maybe 'Battle of Los Angeles' won't be as bad.

Noah D said...

Also, I need to get a Blackwater hat. :)

wv: 'spenrent' I done spenrent on PMC tchotchkes!

Tam said...

I'll say this for Avatar; it's the first flick to launch me to the other side of the Uncanny Valley. The CGI and live action stuff is as flawlessly integrated as its ever been done in Hollywood.

I stopped looking for the seams less than 15 minutes in and just let it wash over me.

Noah D said...

And...I just bought tickets to the local 3D showing today at noon.

I'm such a sucker for scifi. I'll cheer for my species.

Noah D said...

Darn. The Blackwater proshop is out of the black hat. Maybe I'll get khaki, it's more 'operator', dontcha think? :)

Ambulance Driver said...

"I was glad to see the Marines still yelling GitSome while strafing the natives with machine guns in 2154."

Everyone that runs is a Na'vi. Everyone that stands still... is a well-disciplined Na'vi.

The Freeholder said...

"How can you shoot women and children?"

"Easy..ya just don't lead em as much!"

That movie never fails to make me smile.

Thanks for saving me the price of admission and/or the price of the Blu-Ray. I'm pathologically unable to divorce the experience from the message, so I'll just by a box of ammo and go the the range instead.

Noah D said...

Okay, quickie review:

It's got some glaring plot holes, Cameron is either lazy or trying to be subtle (both, I'm thinking), the sorta-military bad guy is painfully overwrought, but in there somewhere is a great action scifi movie. As it stands, it's merely good, with a lot of wasted potential.

The tree-hugging, Gaia-worshipping cat people aren't quite as ridiculous when you stop to think about what they're doing with those brain extensions...and in that bit lurks an almost-realized excellent scifi story.

It's also gorgeous, and the Real3D is spectacular.

reflectoscope said...

My age is showing, isn't it? ;)

No. :)

Jim

How did it go? McAir bought Hughes, sold the helo division to Bell, Boeing bought McAir and then bought the helos back from Bell? Something like that.

Tennessee Budd said...

Haven't seen it, and won't; I've seen the trailers. I claim no superpowers, but for some reason comp-gen effects are apparent to me. I can suspend disbelief as well as the next person, I think, but something (maybe in the hindbrain) always says "fake".
It's rather annoying. I guess it's like a cross-eyed person trying to make the old 3D glasses work, & just not getting it.

Ben said...

Something that annoyed me was why does primitive = Stupid. At the very beginning you see a truck roll by with arrows stuck in the tires.Now supposedly the humans have been on this planet for a while now yet the aliens have not learned that shooting arrows at the machine does nothing but cost them arrows something that I would imagine represents a fair amount of resources and labor to a primitive culture.Also at the home tree they just seemed amazed at the firepower the humans had, hadn't they been paying attention in the past and seen this why not plan for it?

hermit said...

Hmm. I saw something recently on the Sci Fi channel. It had invaders, and natives with blue skin, and a leader/soldier-dude who was part invader and part native, who started out fighting for the invaders but ended up fighting for and leading the natives. There was beautiful scenery around them and all sorts of kickass fighting.
The movie was King Arthur (2004).
And watching a battle where the natives - adorned in blue bodypaint/warpaint are fighting or using catapult-like weapons - I could almost imagine them with the same 'cat' features and funny ears. :P

Just this one probably had better story to it than Avatar. :P

Mike said...

So, it's the Thundersmurfs re-enact Ferngully as Dances with Ewoks, after ripping off Poul Anderson (Call me Joe) and Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern).

Yes?

Anonymous said...

I'm mildly acrophobic, but I didn't find the 3D IMAX version as challenging as I would have expected. I think it was in part because the movie producers didn't beat you over the head with the aerial sequences like some other IMAX productions do.

RSR