So why all the hullaballoo? What’s made Avatar, to use an industry term, so boffo? For one thing Cameron’s latest blockbuster has been touted as a revolutionary breakthrough in filmmaking. And, really, it’s about time we had a film revolution. The way we watch movies now is so outdated. The cup holders in the stadium seating are too small for my 2-liter bucket of Mountain Dew. And there really should be a way for the theater ATM to eliminate the middleman and just pay me directly in Red Vines licorice.
But apparently the reason everyone is lining up to see Avatar has more to do with 3-D special effects. I say “apparently” because I haven’t actually seen Avatar nor do I have any intention of ever seeing Avatar. In fact, the more people who tell me, “You should see Avatar!” the more likely I am to see it right after I finish renting Did You Hear About the Morgans?
So why haven’t I plunked down $14 for the IMAX experience?
For one thing, I don’t like having to wear 3-D glasses in a theater. Hell, I barely like wearing pants in a theater. And if James Cameron is supposed to be such a super genius, why didn’t he just design a giant set of 3-D glasses to fit over the entire movie screen?
Besides, I think 2-D is getting a bum rap. Some of my least favorite people are three-dimensional and on more than one occasion I’ve wished they were two-dimensional so I could press them inside a very big and heavy book.
From the previews of Avatar it also looks like the majority of the action takes place on an alien futuristic planet inhabited by blue people. Uh, no thanks. I like my movie characters beige-colored. Or yellow. Or brown. Or pretty much any color in Crayola’s earth-tone section. But not blue. Blue skin is for bathroom signs, Smurfs and that creepy Blue Man Group in Vegas.
I just saw Up in the Air starring George Clooney and at no point did Clooney leave Earth, travel into the future or have his skin turn blue. Yet Up in the Air is a great movie because it relies on such things as—and try to follow me here—clever dialogue and quality acting.
A good script and believable acting are two things critics say are lacking in Avatar, which is not surprising considering James Cameron both directed and wrote the film. Performing two different essential roles on the same movie is rarely a wise idea. It’s the reason why Jackie Chan makes so many cruddy movies. (The Tuxedo, anyone?)
Jackie Chan is always bragging, “I do all my own stunts!” Well of course you do, Jackie. You’re a stuntman who is trying to act! Nobody can understand half the crap you’re saying, as if it would matter because the audience is just waiting for you to do a back flip then beat some meaty goon half to death with a set of salad tongs.
And that’s essentially what guys such as James Cameron and George Lucas have become, the directing equivalent of Jackie Chan with salad tongs. Oh sure, their movies look fantastic with big-budget special effects and 21st century technology because both Cameron and Lucas are directing wizards, but when one of their blue characters opens its mouth to speak, well, anyone who ever heard Jar Jar Binks say a line of dialogue in Lucas’ Star Wars might’ve thought he or she accidentally bought a ticket to The Tuxedo.
Still you can’t argue with Avatar’s box office success. Then again, people slow down to look at accidents on the side of the freeway, too, so take numbers for what they’re worth.
And never forget the immortal words of Jackie Chan who said . . . Actually I couldn’t really make out what Jackie was saying but he swung around on a chandelier then did this really badass sweeping leg kick.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.