On Christmas Eve, I went to see Avatar. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to be a film critic as I regularly crash and burn on Earl's Bug Eyed Quiz (link to left) when the topic is movies - I don't cheat - I try to come bottom doing my best as opposed to deliberately messing up - and I usually do come bottom! But here goes. The director, James Cameron, is noted for directing Titanic, of which it was said with some justification that they spent $120 million (or whatever it was) on special effects and ten cents on the script. Rumour has it that something similar happened as regrds Avatar.
Let's get it out of the way. The special effects are stunning and well worth seeing Avatar for on their own.
The storyline? Well it suffers from metaphor overload. Just about everything is nodded to in a clunking sort of way. It starts off vaguely reminiscent of Apocalypse Now or any other Vietnam film you can think of with the choppers warily overflying the dense vegetation. Clunk! A nod to Vietnam. However we are not in Vietnam. We are on a planet called Pandora - as in Pandora's box (geddit?).
The Earthlings are on the most hostile environment imaginable. The atmosphere is rapidly fatal without breathing equipment. Everything in the natural world seems dedicated to - and with a talent for - killing them. Avatars are created to put the sort of human - apart from being blue, about twice the height of the average person, tiger striped and possessed of tails - tribespeople at their ease. The tribespeople are known as 'the people'. The objective is a precious natural resource the people are living on top of. At this point the metaphors are flying thick and fast. Everyone else who is invaded/occupied and is pissed off about it - let's think Iraq/Afghanistan. Clunk! Indigenous people unwittingly sitting on valuable resources. Clunk! The rainforest. Clunk! The native american - these savages are noble savages and have a lot of the characteristics of the native american - their language sounds similar too. Nod to Rousseau. Clunk!
I'll leave the plot alone - go see if you want to know it. Nuanced it aint. It has a wildly improbable love affair. The use of overwhelming force by the Earthlings (or 'Sky people') - we are in shock and awe territory here. Clunk! And in the final stages an avalanche of New Age/Mother Earth guff. At this point the metaphorical clunkometer is blowing off the wall. Clunketty Clunketty Clunk!
Maybe twenty cents on the script. Plus it's a little over long. Go and see it anyway. The special effects are worth the trip. Plus you get a free pair of 3D glasses.
After the cinema, we repaired to Jimmy's - a Greek restaurant in Soho and of some fame. It's in a basement on Frith Street - also home to Ronnie Scott's and looks as if it hasn't been decorated since about 1960. My dinner companions, being American and Hong Kong Chinese, had never heard of Jimmy's but soon got the hang of it. After the mezzes, I had Souvlaki washed down with Cretan red.
And so to bed, as Pepys used to write. Well sort of ;)