Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar (3D)

In a superb article, A Whiter Shade of Guile, Joe Queenan articulated about how in films Americans, especially whites, are always portrayed as the saviours, representing the minorities, the underprivileged, purveyor of the streets and those endowed with lesser technologies usually involving sharp implements. Hell, even king of the Jungle was Tarzan dethroning the cat with awesome mane back to a level the where it took Disney to put it back to limelight with Jeremy Iron’s voice.

Anyway, that is roughly the plotline of James Cameron’s most anticipated (yes everyone says that, and I didn’t realise that it was most anticipated until earlier this year) Avatar. Great white American told to infiltrate a group of native tribe, learn their language and ways, and instead of working with the evil mighty American in turning against them, he likes them, especially the main chick who happens to be, wait for it, the tribe leader’s daughter. Yeah, you know the drill. They fall in love, he learns the ways from her, then he realises that he is part of them, he defends them from the evil goons led by stereotypical general straight out of Austin Powers movie who had been watching Full Metal Jacket.

The thing is, that’s the plotline Cameron used to actually amaze us with a visual spectacle that last awed me back in 1993 when Spielberg unleashed a horde of dinosaurs, half of them were actually Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI) which was a novelty then, like nanotechnology or cell phone pornography now. There are allegations of copyrights infringement, claiming Cameron took the story from sources uncredited, especially so by Indians who are wetting their pants because Avatar is an exclusive Indian word for reincarnation, and says the plot has to be from ancient Hindu myth. No, it’s simpler plot that Hollywood has used to death to the point where Kevin Costner won multiple Oscars for doing that particular kind of movie, where dancing with wolves made him so popular and rich enough to make mega stinkeroos like Waterworld and The Postman. Happy?

Anyway, Cameron transfers the plotline outer space involving greedy corporate raiders (we even have the return of that Scumbag from Cameron’s Aliens, but not played by Paul Reiser though the actor eerily looks like that unfunny man), bunch of marines (Aliens shadow again, huh?) and a good marine (not played by Michael Biehn) who later becomes the saviour of nature loving tribe of people called Na’vi residing in Planet Pandora. But that is not the point.

It’s the visual splendour that blew me away. There was drama too which moved my tender hearted wife to tears, but again, it’s the sheer imagination, the beauty of a world that is beyond my semi-literate imagination that puts this film high above the pedestal to the point that I declared that it is probably the best film of the decade…probably.

The Pandora of Cameron’s imagination is no different from the best part of his own The Abyss. In fact, he took the best part expanded it in a larger canvass and used the best CGI solution to give one of the most realistic digital creations ever since those darned dinosaurs. I never bought the Lord of The Rings trilogy and was never fascinated with the CGI stuff in it. But Avatar changed all that, it made me to actually believe that what I brushed off as “another CGI shit” when I saw the Na’vi avatar at the beginning of the film. As the film progressed I completely forgot that they are all nothing but digital (of course, there were actors behind it do help with the motion capture thingy).

Cameron’s imagined Pandora is better than the worlds in all the three prequels of Star Wars combined, it’s a beautiful world, where it does not take one lots of effort to be an environmentalist. We have hard time taking care of the nature here, let alone dealing with the side effects of survival namely fangs, claws, poisons and bad breath and these are avoided in Pandora’s glorious forests, beautiful creatures, and breathtaking view from any corner. Adding the 3-D effects just enhances it. This film has to be seen in 3D.

But it’s not a tourism flick as other filmmakers with cool CGI solutions would aspire to shoot. Despite the familiar plotline, Cameron did skew the script make us care about the conflict, and most importantly, really care about Pandora and its inhabitants, namely the chick mentioned, Neytiri, whom, I believe, is lot better loved as CGI character than an actual annoying actress on screen. The final battle scene puts action back to the pre-“cut every two seconds” dizzying shit that we got from the Bourne and the latest Bond film. Its takes us back to the time when great battles scenes were meant to be shown clearly and it was truly, and I hate this clichéd response but let me say it anyway, “mind-blowing”.

My nit-pick about mighty Whitey/Yankie plot apart (man with just few months crash course on Na’vi suddenly becoming the rider of a badass beast???), this film is about, yes I am going to say that “e” word, Experience. To hell with Lord of The Rings, and Harry Potter can show the broom up where it doesn’t shines, I am now a big fan of Cameron’s Pandora. Now, I have not even talked about the awesome machineries and mean arsenals of the future, that will take another 900 words. Blast it, Cameron could just be King of the World.


The Real said...


Is this a review or you just feel like letting off steam? Damn man! I need coffee now...

Rakesh Kumar said...

It's a review of letting off steam.