Opinion

COMMENTARY: Eye-fucking hate Avatar

I am worried about the future. There are many things that make me think that the future will not be as exciting as Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons, such as global warming, international strife, the possible collapse of capitalism, and other similarly serious problems. But more importantly, I am worried about the future of movies.

I have always loved movies. My family had a large collection of VHS tapes – now DVDs – and is slowly building a collection of Blu-ray discs. (We also actually have one or two HD DVDs and an HD DVD player because my Dad bet on the wrong horse.) One might think that my love of movies would lead me to be excited about Avatar‘s evolutionary 3D technology. Well, yes, I think 3D is neat, but it’s hardly enough to fill the emptiness left by a horrible movie like Avatar.

I thought Avatar was terrible, and I’m shocked that others don’t feel the same way. I think that everyone was caught up in the fancy technology and the use of 3D and forgot about the actual movie.

Avatar‘s story was a derivative of an old, classic tale. The characters were poorly developed and not engaging. The conflict was uninteresting and I felt nothing for the characters’ plight. The political undertones were so obvious that I felt like Michael Moore was yelling at me.

However, almost everyone seems to disagree with my take on the movie. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the Avatar “extraordinary” and gave it four stars out of four saying, “Watching Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw Star Wars in 1977.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times also said watching Avatar was like the first time he saw Star Wars. While I agree that Avatar was, to a certain extent, mesmerizing, and that James Cameron created something visually impressive – keep in mind it did cost him $237 million.

In my opinion, Avatar is no Star Wars. Yet last month Avatar won the Golden Globe for best motion picture (drama), while in ’77 Star Wars did not win any best film awards. It won seven Academy Awards, but for things like sound, costume design, and visual effects – not for best picture. (The Oscar that year for best picture went to Annie Hall). And yet I would argue that Star Wars was light-years better than Avatar.

Star Wars was a good movie, but only won awards for its technical merit. If Avatar wins the Oscar for best picture the Academy is just saying that all that really matters in a movie is using cool effects, bright colors, and 3D. If Avatar hadn’t been so visually orgasmic, I don’t think it would have received nearly as much critical praise as it has. But, as more audiences and critics are drawn to this visual spectacle, I fear that we will lose the art of movie-making and we will eventually be left watching movies like Avatar and the 2008 Wachowski Brothers eye-fuck that is Speed Racer. However, I’m worried that it’s only a matter of time until insane flashes of colour and visual stimuli eclipse the importance of story-telling and we’re eventually just paying $12 to watch a giant screen with flashing lights and 3D explosions, which isn’t even close to the world I was promised in Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons.

It’s possible that I’m just like those people from the 1930s who thought sound would ruin the movies. If that’s the case then you can say: “I told you so.” Until then, I’m going to stay worried.

Matt Essert is a U2 philosophy and political science student.

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