Thursday, December 24, 2009

Avatar: A must see for the holidays

You might be wondering why Lefty's is doing a movie review. That's not our thing, right? Well there are times to make exceptions. And this is one of them.

The movie is  James Cameron's Avatar
and you absolutely must see it once you get the chance. Besides the fact that the movie is stunningly beautiful and revolutionary in terms of film-making, I think you'll find something else to take away from it.

Interestingly, when Joe Lieberman said he voted against the Public Option because liberals were too excited about it, I thought in a similar fashion with this movie review. Only after sufficient conservative whining did I realize the potential fuss this movie could generate. So I went and saw it, and to be honest, 99% of my satisfaction came directly from the imaginative and beautiful world of Pandora and the Na'vi- their story and lifestyle. Only a small sliver of me got excited because the message of the film was so clearly anti-imperialist and against American intrusion in the Middle East.

So although most Americans will go and simply enjoy this film for what it is, a small minority will sh#t a brick and begin their political whining. In the same way, it would be awesome to keep the comments about this post strictly about the movie. I'm a little tired of hearing obnoxious "Hollywood is liberal" arguments, even if they are probably true. So what? STFU, sit down and watch the movie, and get over yourselves. Thank you, and Merry Christmas Lefties!

Visual: A
Sound: A
Story: A-
Experience: A
Overall: A


starbird said...

hello "we will fight terror with terror" in the mouth of Avatar's antagonist ...

Unknown said...

I plan to eventually see the movie, but I've heard it's somewhat weaksauce when it comes to substance.

I think that you mistakenly apply the epithet "imperialism" to American actions in the Middle East. I think the better the term "interventionism" or "liberal interventionism" is more accurate. I think our recent interventions, right or wrong, are pretty analogous to what we've been doing since at least WWII: putting pressure on or even toppling regimes that we consider to be inhumane and dangerous to world order. If what we did under Bush was imperialism, then just about every president from FDR on (including Obama) could be considered an imperialist.

I guess I'm just arguing the pretty modest position that "words mean things."

Henry James Vasquez said...

No, actually, that's not at all what I mean and your response is anything but modest. It is rare that any of the comments on this blog are even close to modest.

I used the term "imperialism" as a very broad term to talk about the entire history of imperialism (going centuries back) and then I used "American intrusion in the Middle East" afterward as a second point. I do think that the message at its core is about imperialism in general and not interventionism.

And no, this isn't about Bush, Jeez. Interventionism is about Obama, Carter, Nixon, Reagan, Kennedy, Johnson, Bush (both), Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc. The whole gang.

When I lived in Nicaragua, the people generally despised the American government. Yes, there was particular animosity toward Bush (Jr.), but Nicaraguans have been upset with the American government for a long time (when different presidents were in office). Their dislike is about American interventionism and not about a specific person.

Look, the movie is not Syriana. The movie is not Platoon. It's a fantasy movie that happens to have a broader message. Like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, that message isn't why people went to watch the movie.

I would like it if our commenters respected our writers when they ask (on particular occasions) "to keep the comments about this post strictly about the movie," especially if the comment itself is about semantics and it is still off-target. We get enough flak on our regular posts. If one of our commenters would like to write about conservative politics, I encourage them to start their own blog. It's easy to hate on something all the time. It's harder to stand for something.

Unknown said...

Why are you asking people to comment only on the movie when your post is largely about politics. In reference to the actual movie you say, "Besides the fact that the movie is stunningly beautiful and revolutionary in terms of film-making, I think you'll find something else to take away from it." The very next thing you say is about Joe Lieberman. You then continue to mention "conservative whining." You do say that you appreciate the beauty of Pandora and the Na'vi, but again you return to politics.

In my count you give only one reason to see the film; revolutionary beauty. The rest is political rhetoric.

Anyhow, I have not seen the movie, but I am anxious to do so. From what I have been told, (even by yourself) the movie looks incredible, and the plot is decent.

Bill said...

To be honest, I have no interest in seeing this movie. The main draw for this film is supposed to be the visual effects. I was extremely underwhelmed by the trailer. Call me old-fashioned, but what ever happened to shooting on location, having stunts and animatronics? To enjoy a movie it's essential for me to suspend disbelief, which I have a really hard time doing when I'm staring at a screen filled with cartoon crap.

From what I've heard about the plot, it sounds like "Dances with Wolves" meets "Ferngully". I don't really appreciate being force-fed a filmmaker's politics when I see a movie like this, regardless of how similar those politics are to my own. That being said, I think I'll skip Avatar.

ShamRockNRoll said...

I'm seeing this today with a group of friends, in 3D IMAX, so that in itself should be cool, but maybe I'll benefit from lowered expectations.

Henry James Vasquez said...


People will find any random reason not to like a movie. This is the same garbage some spewed after The Dark Knight. The reality is, most people enjoyed this film. It's definitely not the best movie of the year, I'll give you that. But some people are ripping on this movie way more than it deserves. I'd like to hear your review after.

Unknown said...

From a strictly artistic standpoint...this movie's sweet, but isn't as cool as people make it out to be. The 3D animation isn't anything brand-spanking-new, it's just bringing technology that animation nerds have seen for a while already to the front of the store, so to speak. Frankly it reminded me of a videogame cutscene before a boss fight that never got greenlighted. The backgrounds were very well made, but there was still some 3d eye-death (animators still can't quite get eyes right, which leaves some people looking, well, dead. happened in christmas carol too) and the CG characters were still made of rubber. The Na'vi REALLY weren't the most original designs around (more like blue thundercats) and while I'll save you the whole sphiel on Cameron and how he's kinda a douche, lemme tell you I'm not too pleased with the way he designed their race rather blatantly after African tribespeople...and how they are impossibly mammilian (WHY DO THE FEMALES HAVE BREASTS? THEY REALLY SHOULDN'T, AND HE ADMITTED IT)... and how he could have done so much more with the technology/the money he was given in terms of character designs...
*doesn't think it deserves nearly the hype it's gotten*

And in terms of the plot? Yeah, no. I mean yeah, it's FERNGULLY IN SPACE and all, but to me it's really less "anti-imperialist and against American intrusion in the ME" and more "overused white guilt plot". This article phrased it better than I ever could: .

I'd rather spend my money fawning over Princess and the Frog because seriously? that movie DESERVES IT. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, the story is told wonderfully, and the characters? ohhh my heart, this movie makes my life more than just a little. I wish it had come out when I was a kid - it has an absolutely fantastic message and plot/character development that disney films have never reached before, and that most films never quite obtain.

*goes off and geeks out some more*


Unknown said...

I don't understand much of what you said in your first post above. Even after re-reading it, I don't really get it.

I'll reiterate that I don't think our recent interventions are actually imperialistic.

And I'll add that whether something is pleasing to Nicaraguans is not a great test of the quality of a policy of the US government, imho. It seems to me that US policy tends to be unpopular throughout much of the world when it's good and when it's bad. So, popularity seems to be basically uncorrelated with goodness, and so it's not really much of a test of goodness, I would think.

Lastly, your post seemed to be largely political, and so I made a political response to it.


Bill said...

Read this, Henry. It's hilarious.

ShamRockNRoll said...

I saw Avatar this weekend with a group of my friends and everyone thought it was really good, myself included. We saw it in 3D-IMAX so of course the visual experience was awesome. A couple of my friends who are more critical of movies, including myself, were careful not to call it "great" but it was a good and enjoyable film.

***SPOILER ALERT: nothing major, just discussing a couple lines of dialogue***

I heard a couple people rip it apart as far as the writing and story were concerned, but I think that criticism was overly harsh. I went into it with lowered expectations because of that, and didn't really have a problem with it, though there were one or two instances where I did wince ("we will fight terror with terror" I just thought was a misplaced line that was used to push the message of the film in a manner which was a bit too over the top. I heard a couple people in the theater grumble about the "shock and awe" reference, but I didn't have a problem with that.

As far as the criticism some have about it being a recycled story. Well, so what? Really. I mean every art form borrows and steals from work that came before it--especially in story telling. Certain themes ring true historically and in modern times, and I don't think the film should be criticized for it.