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Monday, January 18, 2010

If it Weren’t for Ties to Titanic, Would it Still be the Talk of the Town?

By John C.

Don’t get me wrong, Avatar is an amazing movie in nearly every aspect. But it’s not the best movie of 2009. I loved it and had a great time watching it, but I also saw other, better movies.

People have deemed the film of being racist, the Vatican’s newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, suggested that it came dangerously close to being “neo-paganism”. It seems for every fan-rave, there’s someone debunking it’s praises.

I get the controversy, I get why people are put-off by the film. If someone told me they didn’t like it, I’d have to say I get why. There are many elements in the film that could, and very rightfully, upset certain groups of people.

But then I also get why people are loving the film. There’s lots to admire, and a great time is sure to be had by the majority of the movie going masses.

The one aspect everyone can agree on? That it looks spectacular. From what I’ve read, nearly everyone agree’s that Avatar is groundbreaking in terms of visual effects. Which it most certainly is. It’s one of the best looking films I’ve ever seen.

When everyone is talking about a film, no matter how good it is, it sometimes just becomes easier to see it’s flaws. But the fans are backlashing against the controversy, and being totally blind to any of the films problems.

It almost just feels like now the Academy will give it the Oscar, because of all the controversy and hype. But Best Picture it is not. There are some elements that could have, and should have, been tweaked to make for an overall, and more evenly, excellent movie.

All controversy aside, Avatar is a far from perfect picture. For all the brilliance of Pandora, for everything that James Cameron thought through, there was an old-school element that just stuck out like a sore thumb.

Some of the dialogue is very cheesy and laughable, especially the fact that the nearly unobtainable mineral is called “Unobtainium”. And really? In 2154, a scientist would be chain-smoking while up in space at a research base containing oxygen tanks? I truly believe that if it does win, in a couple of years people will be laughing at it.

So I guess the bigger question is, if James “Titanic/King of the World” Cameron had not directed Avatar, would it still have been the front runner for Best Picture that it’s ultimately become? Or would it have just been seen as a groundbreaking, incredibly entertaining blockbuster, albeit a very good one.

Like I said, I loved Avatar. At 163 minutes, it never dragged and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s just not perfect, and not the best movie I saw last year. Was it one of the best looking movies I’ve ever seen, and incredibly entertaining? Very much so indeed. Just, in my humble opinion, Best Picture it is not.

Neytiri (Zoë Saldana) and Jake (Sam Worthington) make final preparations for an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire world. - Photo credit: WETA


Adam said...

You said a bunch of times that you didn't think that Avatar was the best film of last year, but you never actually said what you liked better. What's your pick for the best film(s) of 2009?

One Movie, Five Views said...

@Adam - I didn't mention what movies I liked better than Avatar in my article, and perhaps I should have at least made a passing reference.

Avatar was tons of fun and a great experience, but there were some things that could have been done a bit better. Some of my favourite films of 2009 would have to be stuff like:

A Serious Man
A Christmas Carol
An Education
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story
The Brothers Bloom
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
One Week
The Princess and the Frog
Up in the Air
Where the Wild Things Are
(500) Days of Summer

I'm probably missing some, but those were just some of the films that really stood out for me. I'm not sure if I could pick just one favourite, but Up would be very near the top.

We've had reviews of most of the films I've mentioned, and I'm going to try and publish a retrospective of last year very soon.

John C.
One Movie, Five Views