James Cameron, a director who previously could do no wrong in my book, takes a giant step into a big blue turd with Avatar, a movie packed with super visuals but sorely lacking in good writing.
Look, I have no problem with big, vacuous entertainment. If it looks good, and the principals make it fun, then I don’t really care how stupid it is. The worst thing about Cameron’s latest epic is that he wants—practically demands—for you to take it seriously, with its environmental message and “war on terror” parallels. It’s a nearly three-hour message movie that could’ve been written by an eighth grader. No, make that a fifth grader.
Set somewhere in the future, evil earthlings have set their eyes on Pandora, a big jungle planet rich with expensive minerals. Scientists have conjured a way to supposedly make nice with the planet’s inhabitants, the Na’vi.
The Na’vi are sort of crosses between Rastafarians and Wes Studi’s character from The Last of the Mohicans. They are a shiny blue color, and their fashion consists of thongs and big ear piercings. They are a quiet, kind species, although they will hiss at you like a cat if you piss them off, and will shoot you with toxic darts if you go near them without an invite. OK, maybe they’re not that nice.
Here’s the scientists’ idea: combine human DNA with alien DNA to create Human/Na’vi hybrid bodies that can be controlled by humans from sleep chambers fashioned with neural net devices. This essentially makes the sleeper a real life participant on Pandora. Oh yeah, that’s just the sort of thing to make an indigenous species feel comfortable. Make freaky, half human clones that can mix right in with you and your neighbors.
When one of the hybrid drivers, a paraplegic Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), crosses paths with warrior princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek’s new Uhura), she takes him under her wing and shows him the ways of Pandora.
Meanwhile, Jake has a behind-the-scenes shady deal with a nasty Marine commander (Stephen Lang) to get his legs back on Earth. Will Jake help to remove the Na’vi from their land and get evil Earth its precious mineral? Or will Jake turn against evil Earth because he prefers being blue and wearing a thong? Gee … I wonder which way this thing is going to go?
Cameron infuses the film with lame dialogue like “terror on terror” and bulldozers knocking down “spirit trees” to conjure up parallels to current real-life troubles with war and rainforests. He does it in a way that is so insultingly obvious, it kills any chance to be emotionally invested in the film.
I was impressed by fleeting moments in the movie, such as winged beasts flying into canyons strewn with waterfalls, and the wonders of Neytiri’s 3-D blue ass. Actually, do not go to anything but a 3-D screening if you decide to take this one in. God help those who opt for the 2-D version. That must be a slog through hell!
Earlier this year, Bruce Willis starred in a clunker called Surrogates, in which he played a detective in a world where people stayed in their apartments while robot versions of themselves ran around living their lives. It’s essentially the same gimmick as Avatar, although the robots aren’t light blue and they wear pants. Avatar is, essentially, a very rich man’s Surrogates.
Sigourney Weaver plays a head scientist occupying one of the hybrids, and it looks enough like her to give you the creeps. Her avatar is dressed as if it’s in the Peace Corps, wearing cargo pants instead of a thong. And boo to James Horner, whose score for the film often rips off the one he did for Cameron’s Titanic.
Without a doubt, this is Cameron’s worst film since Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, and that film may’ve actually had better character development than can be found in the bloated Avatar. Not a nice way to cap the decade in film.
Glimpses of winter weather in Northern Arizona from UA School of Journalism exchange student Markus Steinhauser.
Just when I thought Facebook was OK, I got this friend suggestion on the right corner of my screen.
I've been dragged into our local Build-a-Bear Workshop countless times, but I never realized this corporate pit contributed to my son's growing obsession with saving the planet. Lucky for me there's Big Government. The conservative Website brought to my attention this video posted on the company's interactive game Website buildabearville.com.
...when your unsuspecting tot logs on and hops a virtual train to the North Pole…you should know that he or she will be informed — by Santa Claus — that Christmas may be canceled this year due to Global Warming.
Needless-to-say, this constitutes brainwashing on the sleaziest and most sinister level. The good news is that this nonsense isn’t coming from our government this time and the rocky economy is our friend here. People, we have the means, if we have the will, to topple these charlatans who shamelessly prey on little children. So boycott Build-A-Bear. And, more importantly, tell the world why.
The ice caps are melting. But I guess it's easier to focus on corporations that convince you it's good to pay $45 for a cuddly doll or bear that comes with accessories and its own cardboard condo, than it is to get real about climate change. Next up: Band-Aid commercials with those cute kids singing about being stuck on Band-Aid brands is actually teaching our children how to advocate for health care reform. Beware.
News that downtown's Coronado Hotel won't be sold to Pima County to retain as affordable housing raises two immediate questions.
First, will county officials consider using eminent domain to acquire the property? This prospect could be considered if the eventual buyer proposes converting the Coronado into another use.
The second question is: Could the Downtown Development Corporation, which owns the building, and the Downtown Tucson Partnership, which manages the DDC, have possibly done a worse public-relations job handling this issue? The latest boo-boo of announcing on Dec. 22 that the county would not be the buyer was a hell of an early Christmas present to elected officials.
Word is they are none too happy about the present.
Note: An earlier version of this post said that the Industrial Development Authority co-owned the Coronado Hotel rather than the DDC. (Thanks for the heads up, Downtowner.)
If you have $5 and nothing better to do Christmas night, then get your butt to this show.
Marshall Vest repeated his warning that the state budget is "unsolvable" during a talk with Arizona Illustrated's Bill Buckmaster. Watch the segment after the jump.
I spoke to Vest earlier today as part of a legislative preview piece I'm working on for next month. He threw cold water on the proposal to just cut more taxes and wait for the economy to rebound. That economic plan has been floated by some House Republicans, including Rep. Frank Antenori, and gubernatorial candidates John Munger and Vernon Parker, who are opposed to Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to raise sales taxes.
“The argument is that if you could only cut taxes, you could stimulate the economy,” Vest says. “But the fact is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves. If you cut a dollar out of your taxes, you might get a nickel back.”
Vest says the state needs to increase taxes—whether sales, income or property—because the state can't cut its way out of the problem.
“In fact, our tax burden is not high,” Vest told me. “The state doesn’t ask very much of its taxpayers…. We’re not going to ruin the economy by raising taxes here."
Vest expands on that thought in his interview with Buckmaster. Watch it after the jump.
The List, a musical theater production about the Internet, involving love, super-villains and the FBI, is staged… More