Avatar film review, Bradford Imax

Gather round people and let me tell you a story. It is a very old story, passed down from generation to generation. It tells of the human condition, of good and evil and how things never change. But more importantly, it tells of the American people and their irresistible ways…

As this film is so BIG in terms of money and award nominations, I thought I would let it give me its best shot on its home turf – five stories of glorious Imax screen, jigawatts of audio power and wrap-around 3D – come on big boy, show me what you got.. aw, you’re just a pussy cat..

And that was pretty much the tone of the entire film; gung ho, macho posturing contrasting with a lot of touchy-feely stuff. Mr Cameron, the writer and director of Avatar, has seen a whole bunch of films in his lifetime, I know this because he referenced so many of them in his film. The list is huge – Matrix, Starship Trooper, Apocalypto, Star Wars, Braveheart, Alien, Princess Mononoke… at one point in the film one of the characters said, “Feel the Force, Luke!” Okay, not those exact words, but it might as well have been. It is impossible to give any spoilers away about this film because if you haven’t seen it already, you will know its story off by heart. It is cliché after goddamn cliché telling the tale about the ‘primitive’ Na’vi people who are at one with nature. Credit where it is due though for Mr Cameron is such an experienced film maker that he makes sure that they are the best goddamn clichés that you will ever feel manipulating your gullible emotions. Well, at least until his next blockbuster.

So what is the fuss about? Well, by far the best worked character in the film is the forest. It is sumptuous, an absolute feast for the eyes. The Enchanted Forest never looked so good. Actually, it did and sometimes it looked a bit too good, rather like photo’s of Barbie on her wedding day which have been airbrushed to a comical level. Although I have to admit the flora and fauna inventions of this gravity defying world kept me entertained for long stretches of the film. Some back room boys somewhere deserve a huge pat on the back for their magnificent achievement.

What disturbed me the most however is the disingenuousness of the story. Ostensibly it is about the American Military-Industrial complex, dispossessing indigenous peoples and slaughtering them because they sit on top of oil (or its equivalent) which is something that the Americans crave and will stop at nothing to own. One of the Americans is ordered to infiltrate these people and discover their weaknesses, except he goes native and discovers their strengths instead (as well as their sexual potency – boy, I bet you didn’t see that coming!). He becomes their hero by flying some big red dragon (only five people in the history of the Na’vi have ever flown the red dragon, we are told) and leads them into war against the Military-Industrial complex (the Americans are particularly good at leading people into war). A fight ensues, our hero asks the god of his adopted planet to help in this fight, which it agrees to do (so now the Na’vi are fighting a just war with god on their side.., hmm, where have I heard that before?), the Military-Industrial complex gets beat and its minions are summarily despatched back home. The End.

Except it is not about that, it is about the American ideology of Imperialism presented in a disguised way. Our sympathy is on the side of the Na’vi who are at one with nature (although we have to ask in what way do the big red dragons – and the other flighted people carriers – benefit, especially as they are killed in the fighting?) but they need the help of the clever American to organise them, to lead them, the clever American who also rode the fearsome red dragon, the clever American who stole the heart of their princess with his acts of daring and cunning…

This is propaganda of the highest order. We think the friendly Americans come in peace and they understand us and want to be our friends but secretly they just want to screw us over and screw our women too. Ha! I’m not that stupid, Mr Cameron.

But something more sinister is at play here. As I watched the exquisite detail swarm across the acres of projection screen I was cowed by the sheer, intimidating processing power involved in the creation of every frame of that film. The implied might of their CGI is far more powerful than any of their napalm or helicopter gun ships. ‘What men created this?’ I gasped. I sat in its shadow and trembled.

To paraphrase a line from the film;

“Run! goddamn you, run! These people and their ideology will kill you!”

2 Responses to “Avatar film review, Bradford Imax”

  1. Ivor Tymchak says:

    It appears that there are limitless films referenced by this film. Here are some suggestions people have given me;

    Ferngully, Dances with wolves, Dune, Lawrence of Arabia, Last of the mohicans…

  2. Nev says:

    Don’t forget “A Man called Horse”, “Pocahontas” and “Return of the Jedi”

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