Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Movie Review: "Avatar"

I finally got around to seeing "Avatar" this weekend, and I liked it a lot better than I thought I would. I saw it at the IMAX, and if you have an opportunity to see it in that venue, I highly recommend you go for it.

First, the bad. As many have said, the storyline was pretty much "Pocahontas" meets "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest", and there will be no one under the age of 8 who won't be able to figure out where it's going about an hour into the film. In true Hollywood fashion, corporatists and military people unable to see shades of grey are the bad guys, and enlightened environmentally-conscious multiculturalists are the heroes. The technologically-deficient natives are able to defeat the bad military people by becoming one with their surroundings -- never revealed is how they plan to hold on to their reconquest of their moon if the evil humans decide to use kinetic energy weapons from low orbit.

The good, however, is amazing. It was, visually, the most beautiful movie I've ever seen. It's the first movie where you can say, "They spent $300 million making it, and every dollar is right there on the screen". I'm not sure how good it is in 2D; this is one where it's worth spending the extra to see it in 3D. This is the future of movies -- hopefully with better stories next time.

Overall, I give the movie two out of 5 for the story, and six out of 5 for the technical aspects, resulting in an overall four Politically Correct Reformed Marines Straight Out Of "The Last Samurai" out of five.


Anonymous retcob said...

Back in the day we carried movies on reels. They were either three reelers or four. There was Movie Call and the POD movie had to be shown unless overridden by unanimous vote. We'd pop the corn and settle into our seats on the messdecks. Wisecracks from the audience amplified the entertainment value, and could make a gagger, bearable. The effect on the watchsection/crew was unifying. It was good for "Comraderie and Shit", as we used to say on Finback.

Now I wonder if this is still the case today, what with DVD's and personal/portable DVD players? Guys watching movies in the rack by themselves cannot possibly have the same sort of unity-generating ability. Of course, I'm not sure you could ever go back to the old ways and maybe DVDs on the messdecks still have the old appeal the reels had.

What do you think?

1/04/2010 9:53 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

My son convinced me to see "Avatar" two weeks ago and I have to agree with Joel. It was an impressive movie with a predictable plot line. For Science Fiction fans, there was a bit of "Dragonriders of Pern" in the characterizations of the natives of Pandora. The Mercenary Industrial complex was the evil villan. I also recommend seeing it in 3D. The visuals were amazing.

1/04/2010 10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concur with Joel as well. There is a good write up in National Review that reflects the same view.


1/04/2010 11:45 AM

Blogger Squidward said...

AVATAR == Dances With Wolves PLUS Blue People MINUS Kevin Costner.

That was the verdict from my leftie cousin who found it to be tiresome, albeit visually appealing.

Why couldn't they have put in a cool plot twist where the Navi turn out to become one with the planet by eating babies or something?

1/04/2010 11:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember the days of the 4 reeler on the mess decks. Sundays were movie marathon/hamburger haven on the Stony J mid 70s, where the flicks from the previous 6 days were shown.

Movies made patrols livable.

1/04/2010 11:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish I could claim credit for it...but some other blogger called it:
"blue cats with tits"

1/04/2010 4:11 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

Agree w/ Joel's review. I caught it opening weekend and was amazed at the visual effects.

retcob - I decomm'd the Finback back in '96. Movies had switched to Beta already by the time I hit my first 637 (well before that). Now they are still shown on 8mm & past due to be updated to DVD but it won't happen until DVD is as obsolete as 8mm players are now.

Most boats have created the ability to view DVD's as well on Crews Mess on the big screen (a large flat panel on a bulkhead), which broadens the library quite a bit, so it isn't all bad.

I agree on the unity/comraderie - Guys watching movies in their rack is a commonplace occurrence now and the crews aren't as tight in part because of the lack of shared experiences.

Movie nights are still a morale builder - they just aren't as big a deal as back in the day.

I still have memories of sitting & laughing throughout a comedy with my Senior Chief sitting next to me - who a few hours before had ripped my butt over something. We still didn't like each other but we had a truce on the messdecks during movies.

Picking the movie as a freshly pinnned submariner is one of the ways all 5 of the boats I've been on have striven to keep that comraderie alive.

The POD...don't get me started.

1/04/2010 6:20 PM

Anonymous Veemann said...

My wife and I saw it and we thought it was great in 3-D. Ditto all of Joel's comments though I tend to under analyze movies and see them for their entertainment value alone. Reminded me of "Dances with Wolves" and Braveheart (FREEDOM!!!) of course.

1/04/2010 6:43 PM

Anonymous ssnret said...

"this is one where it's worth spending the extra to see it in 3D. This is the future of movies -- hopefully with better stories next time."

Timely comment Joel based on an article I read today that says the new HDTV's will be obsolete by the end of the year. Quality 3D tv coming to a home near you.

6 reelers - Godfather and Apocalypse Now

2 reeler - The Wild One

Really wished I had dropped The Red Shoe over the side.

1/04/2010 7:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We actually wore the sprockets out of one movie.

Scheduled for a family cruise, loaded up on disney flicks. A change in priorities took us out with no family. Luckily "Airplane" was one of the adult movies. Add in the crew comments and it was hilarious. That was the only movie shown - and the sprocket holes finally stretched / broke in several places.

There was also the T&A reel to behold.... That movie got longer as many other movies got shorter :-)

1/05/2010 6:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spies Like Us was on TV Sunday night, and it only cost me nothing!


1/05/2010 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the late 60's, on a Diesel Boat out of Key West, the first reel of Barbarella was deemed 'Qualified' after it was shown every night in the after battery/crews mess for six weeks. XO wouldn't let it be shown in the wardroom, so the O-gangers had to scrounge for a seat in the crews mess. Talk about moral building and camaraderie, good job XO!
FTCS(SS), USN Retired

1/05/2010 6:41 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

College Relationships:

I hope you establish a college relationship with someone who can teach you how to write a sentence. Good Luck with that...


1/05/2010 6:43 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted a couple of spamments.

1/05/2010 3:22 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I thought it was a great movie.

Sure, maybe it was preachy, but we need to get over ourselves. Can you make a movie about the Conquistadors that shows Spain in a positive light as they eradicate whole civilizations? Or how about a feel good pic about how we annexed the west from the American Indians? As for corporations, did you know that 15 years after the Exxon Valdez that company still did not use double hull tankers? Those pundits who claim this is just an attack piece need to grow up.

The truth is that we have a long history of just such behavior, and pretending otherwise is dishonest. If it bugs you, good. There is probably a reason for it.

1/06/2010 5:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK SSN CO, I will take the bait. It would be easy to make a "feel good" movie about the march of western civilization across North and South America-there is a reason the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, and it is not as simple as they were more evil and money grubbing than the peace loving locals. Similarly, I think the overall current status of North America is a good news story when considered against the whole of human history-it produced the most powerful nation in the history of the world, that was a liberal democracy vice all the other choices humans have tried for governing that have resulted in much greater suffering. A Nation that provides (provided?) the greatest opportunity to more people of all walks of life than any other in history. Sure, it is not all beer and skittles, but not a bad effort so far. What standard are we judging by that you condemn "us" for a "long history of such behavior"? I do not get excited about themes like AVATAR, I just get tired of the same "noble savage" vs evil military/corporation that seems to be all that hollywood can produce. Want to see a great and novel take on the clash of civilizations, watch "Black Robe". A Canadian flick, with the benefit of Sandrine Holt showing some tasteful nudity that advances the plot.
AVATAR sounds like a good kid flick, I am sure my 12 yr old boy will eventually get me to take him. I might spin him up by rooting for the mercenaries and the corporation, just to be contrary. I say get as much "unobtainium" as you can while the getting is good. Why do the blue cats with hooters get to keep it all to themselves?

1/06/2010 10:51 PM

Anonymous ex-ET nuke said...

I also concur with Joel, See it in 3D! For entertainment value, it was worth the money, predictable or not.

1/06/2010 11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it had much more religious undertones than environmental. You know, a strong message of tolerance and respect for people's religions and their Holy Places. Less of the Conquistadors story and more of a story of what would happen if a group of outsiders wanted to destroy the Vatican or the Mormon Tabernacle? What if a group of outsiders came to destroy a place of significant cultural importance to us, like the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or the White House? The answer is that we would fight those outsiders with everything we had in us.

1/07/2010 1:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just let me say this, and I think I've read the same sentiments on other sites. Why does it always have to be some white guy who saves the day. Same thing in "District 9", a white guy morphs into an alien and leads them to freedom. How about a story where the aliens save themselves.

Joe Alferio

1/07/2010 8:07 AM

Blogger jrnymn said...

James Cammeron spent a fortune on it, roughly around $ 350 mn including marketing.
>when did money alone equal quality? If someone could spend millions of dollars on marketing alone I wouldn't be surprised if some of that money went in to “buying” some or all the critics to put out ”great” reviews. Think about it. If you really want to read a “true” review try googling around blogs and forums or simple just google “Avatar sucks” and see the results.

A breakthrough in film technology especially 3D technology
>nobody gives a shit about technology, period. What do 6-12 years kids know about 3D technology. It's only the hype that is being generated by the “media” that is putting out sentences like: “a ground-breaking technology”, “it's going to pave way for a whole new genre of movies just like Titanic”, “James Cameron has raised the bar”, “A must watch” etc

All the people who are just amazed at the imagery with no poetic touch, why don't you guys sit it front of Nat Geo and look at “Amazing Places” or “Wonders of the world”, I think they provide more stunning visuals than Avatar. Why get awed by the some stupid CGI generated images with no creativity and places that are not even real.

Not only is the pacing of the movie slow but insanely boring and what with the predictable plot.

How lucky the scientist for whom the avatar was built had a twin brother.
Jake Sully lands at that site with no training whatsoever and is suddenly running around in his avatar.
There is no explanation of how Pandora was discovered.
There is no explanation of how the avatar technology works. We know that the DNA has to match to get into the avatar, but how is transportation of nervous system and mechanical functions transferred from the human to the Navi. A switch is pushed so many times to “wake up” the human, but what does the switch power.
Why are the avatar machines kept on a mobile van?
There is no explanation why only a handful of Navi speak English.
When Jake goes in the forest for the first time is it any wonder that he'll be lost and he'll be left behind by the team.
The first time Neytiri meets Jake she repents killing the creatures that attack Jake. But later Jake kills an animal showing off his shooting skills, shes is like “That's a clean kill”. What happened to all the compassion towards animal kingdom previously shown?
Why do the Omaticaya accept an outsider for no specific reason and why must he learn the ways of the Omaticaya? James you lost me here completely.
What the hell is unabotinum or whatever the shit that precious stone was called. What a coincide it happens to located right under the Omaticaya home.
Only Jake sully the might “warrior” who is a “cripple” and has no avatar training previously is able to tame the big creature, whatever the fuck it was called.
There is no mention of other clans until the final moments when all of them suddenly united thanks to Jake Sully and that big creature he tames, whatever the fuck it was called.
The mating scene between Jake and Neytiri is gross. Navis are aliens but they just fuck like humans, wow so creative, they know how to“french kiss” so viewers can feel comfortable and at home, also shed a tear or two and realize that they are in “love”. Fucking nonsense
What's with the cheesy dialogs like “This is not Kansas but Pandora. Every living creature out there is going to get you blah blah,”, “Shock and Awe”, the company, mercenaries etc. Plain bullshit.
The final battle scene is just mindless and total BS.
The creature that attacks Jake in the beginning suddenly come to their rescue just when the shit hits the fan. James care for an explanation?
Finally thanks to Jake! The natives using just arrows defeat the American military force armed with precision bombs and superior AI shit and human robots!!!!

Read more:

1/07/2010 8:36 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The point is not whether or not the Americas are better off for the Spanish (or American) genocide, but whether or not that is the way we ought to be doing things. Let's take a vote: there are resources in Africa, how's about we just 'manifest destiny' our way in there and clear out everyone in the way?

Returning to square 1.

It was a good movie. Strong entertainment value. 3D really added to the movie, more so than any other 3D pick I've seen.

Social commentary does not bring in the audience--a good movie does. Over $1B is from word of mouth more than just media hype.

And I will see it again before it leaves the big screen.

1/07/2010 1:06 PM

Blogger tennvol said...

@jrnymn: Thanks for that extended spam bullshit post. Just because you are an antisocial loser doesn't mean you have to spread your misery to everyone else. Of course, if I lived in Bangalore, I would be pretty miserable too.

1/07/2010 2:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to the theatre, I saw Avatar, but I was not conquered. The first part of the film had an interesting premise-something akin to Peter Pan's Never-never-land where innocent Wendy gets pregnant
by one of the local denizen, creating a race living in fantasy. Captain Hook is the bad guy who has sold his soul to corporate America in exchange for hia salvation from the crock. Of course, all hell breaks loose when the race and Hook war with each
other. Take away all the special effects, and guess what? We are left with a crock!

1/08/2010 2:01 PM

Anonymous Derrick said...

It's a bad movie. The visual novelty doesn't prevent it from being a bad movie. Okay, it was pretty. Pretty bad.

Once upon a time it flabbergasted a person just to see celluloid frames merging into an illusion of continuous motion. Any kind of thin, cruddy, cliched story line might leave a viewer awestruck. "Look! There are people...on the screen...moving around!! Omigod, the wonders of technology!"

Avatar is boring. It's boring. It's a boring movie. Two years from now it will be unwatchable by all the people who claim to be dazed and enthralled by it today. Yet "Gone with the Wind" will still be worth watching a millennium from now, even if the Men of the Future are not that impressed by the spectacle of the burning of Atlanta. Movies are supposed to be about story also, not just visual representation of story. Elsewise, why not just skip the story and have two hours of beasts and jellyfish dancing around the forest? The stupid shall be punished.

1/13/2010 11:03 PM

Anonymous Derrick said...

By the way, I don't mean "eventually" or "somehow" by that last sentence. It'll happen in six months, when you rent the DVD. I'll be vindicated and avenged by your drooling torpor, by the annihilation of huge swatches of your brain matter as you vainly try to re-watch more than five minutes of this deliberately drab dreck.

1/13/2010 11:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad stories, but good presentation is the hallmark of this movie's producer. Titanic was stupid, but well done. Same theme here.

1/18/2010 10:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but good visual effects doesn't a good movie make. It is obvious that the whole point of this silly kid's film is to separate the kiddies from mommy's and daddy's money.

3/11/2010 6:43 AM

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