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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
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But Avatar will make someone think twice before becoming a greedy industrialist or exploiting a native culture?

Well Avatar has a lot of ham-fisted allusions to the War on Terror. I think Cameron is trying to say that the villification of another culture as 'savages' as justification for invasion in order to acquire vital resources is something to be wary of. Of course the War on Terror is a lot more complex than that, but as a member of a western, oil-dependent democracy that opposed the invasion of Iraq, I still find that message relevant. Sorry.

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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
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...and Mike what exactly does being a kiwi have to do with your take on the movies 'message'?

See above, but also our experience as a colonial nation that (arguably) did not marginalise the native population to the extent that America or Australia did (although we were hardly altruistic - it was simply a matter of not having the resources to do so).
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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"I don't understand..."

You might want to remove that. I'm just making my way thru Season 5 before watching my DVR'd 6. Could be seen as too spoilery.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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"I don't understand..."

Welcome to the world of interacting with another culture! Rather fitting, don't you think?
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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Well Avatar has a lot of ham-fisted allusions to the War on Terror. I think Cameron is trying to say that the villification of another culture as 'savages' as justification for invasion in order to acquire vital resources is something to be wary of. Of course the War on Terror is a lot more complex than that, but as a member of a western, oil-dependent democracy that opposed the invasion of Iraq, I still find that message relevant. Sorry.

Mate no need for apologies, I don;t think anyones arguing that the message unto itself isn't a worthy one, it's just that, as you yourself have admitted, it's just that it's handled insuch a hackneyed and ham-fisted fashion, totally undermining any profundity I personally could have gotten from the theme.


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See above, but also our experience as a colonial nation that (arguably) did not marginalise the native population to the extent that America or Australia did (although we were hardly altruistic - it was simply a matter of not having the resources to do so).

Again, it was so hackneyed and tritely handled that any impact was utterly lost on me - and if anything, considering my countries own history with out and out successful genocide of it's native population, that message should almost have had more of an impact on an aussie than a kiwi.

But I digress.
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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
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Mate no need for apologies, I don;t think anyones arguing that the message unto itself isn't a worthy one, it's just that, as you yourself have admitted, it's just that it's handled insuch a hackneyed and ham-fisted fashion, totally undermining any profundity I personally could have gotten from the theme.

Yep, absolutely. But this movie is raking it in. What does that tell you? It tells me that there are an awful lot of people out there who don't know this message, as hard as that may sound to us. We here at CHUD, sadly, do not represent most of the filmgoing public. It seems so obvious to us, but that's because we have a well-rounded interest in film. Most people just go to the movies to be entertained (to switch their brains off, as Devin put it), it's true, I have friends who are research scientists who say that, and it makes my brain hurt.

Or it tells me that people like 3D and explosions, and if that's the case then I applaud Cameron even more for knowing how to pack 'em in to the seats.

I'd also argue that the message of Avatar, despite being so obvious to us, has by and large been missing from the mainstream film industry for the last decade in favour of films about superheroes (which I ranted about earlier). Dances with Wolves obviously, but that was 1990.
My 'not understanding' was referring to this:
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I am rather cynical about whether superhero films actually provoke that sort of decision-making process in the minds of those who watch them.

I don't go to movies to be told how to live. I'm not gonna make decisions based on what a superhero does or doesn't do. Nor will I based on what I see in Avatar. It's about what I can connect to and how well a story can use that to engage my emotions to a theme or an idea. A film like Spider-man 2 does that for me. Avatar didn't. But it did for you. I have no problem with that.

I just kinda took issue with the fact that you bigged up Avatar by slapping around an entire subgenre of movies and seemed to completely brush off the essence of such stories as unrelatable. Sure, we were engulfed in comic book movies for a while, but that happens when something gets popular. Some will be great. Most will be crap. The fad will die out and something else will take its place.

Now let's just hope that the success of Avatar doesn't lead to lazily told white guilt stories. Or at least hope we get ones that are better told. The fact that the movie is raking it in can be taken any way you want it to. Maybe there are lots of people who don't know the message Cameron is pushing. I think it's more like it's an easy and familiar message for audiences to latch onto so that they can enjoy the pretty visuals without being challenged in any meaningful way. It's a story that hasn't been seen on such a scale in a while, so its big budget earnestness seems novel... for now. Maybe people are latching onto something that's just 'good enough' to get a taste of an old-fashioned story.

That's simply how I read the way the movie's raking it in. Just a theory.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I don't go to movies to be told how to live. I'm not gonna make decisions based on what a superhero does or doesn't do. Nor will I based on what I see in Avatar. It's about what I can connect to and how well a story can use that to engage my emotions to a theme or an idea. A film like Spider-man 2 does that for me. Avatar didn't. But it did for you. I have no problem with that.

Then we understand each other perfectly. My cultural background and way of thinking leads me to connect with a movie like Avatar more than a movie like Spiderman 2 (although I'll make no pretensions about Avatar being high art).

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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I just kinda took issue with the fact that you bigged up Avatar by slapping around an entire subgenre of movies and seemed to completely brush off the essence of such stories as unrelatable. Sure, we were engulfed in comic book movies for a while, but that happens when something gets popular. Some will be great. Most will be crap. The fad will die out and something else will take its place.

Perhaps I was too harsh on those films and I apologise for that. But like I said, I have little connection to comic book films (I was never really into comics), and with the glut of superhero films that have been produced over the last decade, I'm just really burnt out on them.

If I was to compare Avatar favourably to another set of films, I'd pick the recent output of directors like Bay, Lucas, and Spielberg. These are directors that I would consider Cameron's peers, and I consider Avatar superior to the Star Wars prequels, the new Indiana Jones film, and the Transformers movies. They are just pictures without meaning. And I'll take a film with a cliched or overused message over a film with no message any day of the week.

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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Now let's just hope that the success of Avatar doesn't lead to lazily told white guilt stories. Or at least hope we get ones that are better told.

I hope not also. I honestly don't think Cameron set out to make a film about white guilt, but rather about exploitation of native cultures in the name of Western materialism. Whether he did that well is another matter of course. I hear there is a backlash against the film in the States. But many of us in other Western democracies still do think that message has a lot of relevance today. Especially here in New Zealand, where, as I said, our forebears decided to integrate with the native Maori population rather than marginalise it, a decision we live with today, where Maori is a widely used second language and many people (myself included) are of mixed Maori/white descent.
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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If I was to compare Avatar favourably to another set of films, I'd pick the recent output of directors like Bay, Lucas, and Spielberg. These are directors that I would consider Cameron's peers, and I consider Avatar superior to the Star Wars prequels, the new Indiana Jones film, and the Transformers movies. They are just pictures without meaning. And I'll take a film with a cliched or overused message over a film with no message any day of the week.

Okay, but those are some of the most hated films of the modern age. You're not setting the bar very high. I'm only so-so on the film, and I'd still agree with you that it's better than those.

If The Blindside sweeps the Oscars, we'll be heading into a whole golden age of white guilt cinema.
Bullock getting the nomination and Crash and Precious getting awards recognition means we're already in the golden age of white guilt cinema. Those are three films that should only be screened for American Cultures classes at particularly bad colleges.
I feel about Avatar, the same way I feel about Watchmen, I sat there trying to engage with the film but I just couldn't. I'm not sure if it the lack of interesting characters or if I'm just burned out on these spectacle films. I just took in the epic scenery but not once did I feel anything for either the N'avi or the humans.

I honestly have no desire to see this again, I didn't hate this film, but it left no impression on me at all.
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Originally Posted by danko
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The movie is a finely crafted package, I really don't understand why it's so important to most of this site's users to deny it.

The movie is fairly boring, terribly clichéd and seems to be doing well mostly because it's a blockbuster spectacle film first and foremost, I really don't understand why it's so important to some of this site's users to vehemently defend it.

Also, I'm not poring through the rest of this thread to see if anyone else has made this statement, but I have a feeling that if James Cameron's name wasn't attached to this it'd have fewer defenders.

*self-immolates*
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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Okay, but those are some of the most hated films of the modern age. You're not setting the bar very high. I'm only so-so on the film, and I'd still agree with you that it's better than those.

Critically hated Greg, but not commercially. A lot of people saw those films, and a lot of people loved (and still love) them, as painful as that is to hear. And they were shit. Avatar was far better constructed than any of them, both technically and artistically. I'm not saying it's a great movie (still pondering that), but it made sense narrative-wise, was technically impressive and had a central message that it stuck to (compare to the prequels, a mess of ridiculous half-ideas and dead ends - and George Lucas' apparent technical prowess was nowhere to be seen, his action scenes were awful). So yes, Avatar was blockbuster spectacle. But it was good quality blockbuster spectacle. I think. You can say that the theme was tired, cliched or whatever, but that was the theme Cameron wanted and he made it manifest. To me that is the central role of a film-maker.
Open Letter To James Cameron: Fairness For Visual Effects Artists

Yea... that's never gonna happen.

And... Hehehe.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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No chance it's going to happen. Especially after all the downplaying of the work animators did in Avatar.
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Originally Posted by Jake
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The movie is fairly boring, terribly clichéd and seems to be doing well mostly because it's a blockbuster spectacle film first and foremost, I really don't understand why it's so important to some of this site's users to vehemently defend it.

Because I am not the one denying evidence, and because I'm irritated by people here feeling so sophisticated and beyond anyone else.
I dunno, maybe it's something that spurs out of frustration?

A lot of people loved the movie beyond its special effects.
A lot of people applauded after it, a few even cried.
I'm not denying a few shortcomings of the movie, but to use Nunziata's words, it felt "genuine".

It definitely brought back the excitement of going back to the movies.
The excitement I felt pouring through the frames, from the details put in it by the artists to the cast of relatively unknowns who were trying to do something grand within it.
Unlike the usual list of "prescribed_by_the_critics", supposed_to_be_great actors who constantly attach themselves to "serious" roles they care nothing about just to prove they're worthy of an Oscar.

With Avatar I found myself *wanting* to go to the movies again.
I know it's not the second coming or anything, but I liked it, for several reasons, and I'm happy I got to see it in a theater.
Now, you didn't like it, and that's ok.
But people here have to stop claiming that (or acting as) those who liked it can only be clueless, stupid, tasteless drones who don't even know what a movie is.
It's an arrogant and, ultimately, ignorant position.
Because, truth is, you DON'T KNOW what passes in other people's minds. You just know (or think you know) your own.
If Avatar really did bring back the excitement of making you WANT to go to the movies again, it sounds like it IS the second coming. That is success worthy of note. Don't be ashamed! Call it the Second Coming!
You know what brings back the excitement of going back to the movies? Fucking movies. You know what makes me want to go to the movies? Movies. One single solitary movie shouldn't inspire all of this sudden activism. It smells and sounds like bullshit from an idle moviegoer.
And that doesn't make much sense. If you didn't want to go back into a movie theater before you saw it, how did you see it? Is this one of those logic puzzle story problems?

Honestly, if this is the movie that inspired you to passion about movies, then you were never that into them. Sure, a lot of modern filmmakers will cite things like Star Wars and King Kong as the films that lit them up and inspired them, when they were eight years old. This is that kind of movie. A guy in his mid-thirties should probably be finding inspiration in something with a little more meat.
I think it simply means that he kept going to movies despite having no desire to. Which is worse.
I finally saw it, and started through this forum, but it's too thick. I just want to point out that Jake never does his one damn job in telling the natives why the humans are there. They might've refused to leave, but he didn't even ask!!!
Ha! I never realized that, but you're right.
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Originally Posted by Jake
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You know what brings back the excitement of going back to the movies? Fucking movies. You know what makes me want to go to the movies? Movies. One single solitary movie shouldn't inspire all of this sudden activism. It smells and sounds like bullshit from an idle moviegoer.

In a sense I *am* an idle moviegoer, since I watch movies in dvd, unless some friends want to go see a specific one.
Generally, I prefer to avoid smelly, crowded places and people spitting popcorns at me.

But for Avatar I didn't mind any of that. It was more like going to the stadium, where you can hug fellow supporters when your team scores a goal, even if you never met them before (I don't do this now, but I did in my youth).
It was, so to speak, a "shared" experience: people sit in absolute silence through it and applauded in the end. It was cool and I hope it'll happen again.

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They might've refused to leave, but he didn't even ask!!!

He realizes it's pointless. It is addressed in the movie.
But it's true that Jake has no clear idea what to do at first, and just tries to buy time.
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Originally Posted by danko
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But for Avatar I didn't mind any of that. It was more like going to the stadium, where you can hug fellow supporters when your team scores a goal, even if you never met them before (I don't do this now, but I did in my youth).
It was, so to speak, a "shared" experience: people sit in absolute silence through it and applauded in the end. It was cool and I hope it'll happen again.

And you wonder why we're looking at the feverish followers like they're crazy.

Avatar: A Social Experience for Shut-Ins
danko, while the wide-eyed wonder evident in your posts is somewhat touching, it's going to go down like a lead balloon around here.

It does raise an interesting question though: are we all just too cynical for a movie like Avatar? While I have defended it here I fully understand why it's leaving a lot of people around here cold.

But honestly guys, some of the cynicism going on in the last few posts is coming across a little... asshole-ish. Is Devin out of town or something?
I'm not too cynical for a movie like Avatar. Really, if the movie worked on me the way I was excited for it to before it came out, I would be defending it as you are. Unoriginal, cliched, cheesy... all that stuff wouldn't matter to me as long as I felt engaged. I said it multiple times before its release and after. As long as the story was executed on the level of most of Cameron's other films, I would've been dandy. But it didn't. And I wasn't.

Have you seen the way some of the people on CHUD go to pieces over other films? They're passionate folk. But that means they'll also rip a movie to shreds if it fails for them. It really shouldn't be surprising the way they're reacting to Avatar.
Cynicism has nothing to do with it. Emotionally manipulative paper-thin trite nonsense is just bad film-making. Fucking ROCKY BALBOA carried more gneuine emotion and character to it, and that was melodramatic and heartstring-tugging as all Hell. WHERE THE WILD THING ARE....simple, emotional, but genuine. It's hard to take a tree-hugging romance seriously when it's a)written so blandly, and b)coming from a guy who spent the GDP of a well-off African nation to bring it to us.
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Originally Posted by Merriweather
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It's hard to take a tree-hugging romance seriously when it's a)written so blandly, and b)coming from a guy who spent the GDP of a well-off African nation to bring it to us.

See when you use a line like "tree-hugging romance" it makes me wonder if it really does have something to do with cynicism.
We're all cynics when something doesn't work the way it was clearly meant to. The way the conflict in the movie is simplified, 'tree-hugging romance' is still too kind.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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We're all cynics when something doesn't work the way it was clearly meant to.

Cynicism can affect a movie-going experience just as much as the experience can make one cynical, is all I'm saying.
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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See when you use a line like "tree-hugging romance" it makes me wonder if it really does have something to do with cynicism.

I'm sorry, I'm not going to describe something which I felt was a dramatic failure in glowing terms. Like nooj said, "tree-hugging romance" is a fairly inoffensive way of putting it. Again, not cynicism.
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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Cynicism can affect a movie-going experience just as much as the experience can make one cynical, is all I'm saying.

True true... but as I said... I went into Avatar fully expecting to love it. My expectations were reasonable. I love being moved. No doubt I'm a bit of a cynic/skeptic in life, but when it comes to movies, I'm a big softie. My biggest problem with Avatar was that it was just such a middling experience. The unoriginal story (which was fully expected) was the least of its problems. For such a surefire story, it was told with utter laziness. I wasn't all that impressed with the world-building. I wasn't even all that amazed by the 3D. It was all done well. Well enough that had the story been told in a way that got me to engage, I could easily be praising the world-building and 3D.
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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See when you use a line like "tree-hugging romance" it makes me wonder if it really does have something to do with cynicism.

Nothing to do with cynicism here. The last time I watched the LOTR trilogy back to back I must have spent collectively more than an hour bawling like a baby. I'm the definition of a sap. Avatar just fails to connect on any level other than the quality of its effects.
That's exactly it. I, like the majority of people, went into Avatar with my mind open but couldn't find a single thing to feel an emotional connection to. It was some of the laziest storytelling I have ever seen on the big screen.
danko, just don't worry about it. Discussing Avatar is just begging for flame wars at this point. Love it if you love it. While I agree that some of the criticism in this thread has indeed read like "If you loved this movie you are a retard and not a TRUE film fan.", it's not worth trying to convince every single person. I guess rest assured that Nick agrees with you... ha.