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Movie Review: Avatar 3-D

I very rarely go to the movies. Sure, I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince out of a misguided hope that they'd depart from the source material and have Harry snog Luna, but for the most part I'd rather stay home and watch Conan the Barbarian over and over again on Netflix-on-Demand.

However, I'd heard good things about Avatar. For instance, it was made by James Cameron, creator of Jessica Alba. Also, it was made in 3-D, which everyone knows is 50% better than 2-D. In addition, I heard there was some sort of controversy involving the use of white actors to play "Asian-inspired" characters. (For my money, the characters were more "Amerindian-inspired" from their face paint down to their sacred trees.) Finally, the movie was supposed to be about 8 hours long, which meant that I'd get the most value for my movie-ticket-buying dollar.

So, the movie is set about 150 years in the future. If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering how things have progressed between now and then. Here's what I know:

  • hibernation invented (or maybe stolen from bears)
  • space travel to distant planets possible
  • genetic engineering able to produce hybrids between civilized white people (notable for having five fingers and being civilized and white) and savage blue people (notable for having four fingers and being savage and blue)
  • mind melds invented (or maybe stolen from Star Trek)
  • new popular mineral: unobtanium
  • mild advances in helicopter technology
  • either inflation remains in check ("20 million dollars" is portrayed as a lot of money) or else US Dollar has been redenominated
  • "cheddar" still used as slang for riches
  • invention of oversized robotic military exoskeletons, and correspondingly oversized military knives
  • no healthcare reform (see below)

Now then, the Blue Man lives in nets suspended from "sacred trees," where he carries bows and poison arrows while simultaneously respecting all life as sacred. The sacred tree has pollen that move like jellyfish and glow in the dark and have an affinity for the main character Sully Sullenberger, one of the aforementioned white-blue hybrids powered by the mind-melded brain of a paraplegic marine whose scientist twin provided the DNA before inopportunely dying and being placed in a cardboard box and incinerated.

Meanwhile, Sigourney Weaver is the scientist in charge of the blue-white hybrid project, and the guy who was Phoebe's dumb half-brother on "Friends" is the MBA-driven leader (I forget his name, but it was something like "Piggy McGreedum" or "Spoily von Selfish") of Unobtainium Amalgamated, and Michelle Rodriguez is a bad-ass who thinks for herself while getting an occasional DWI, and some guy with white hair ("Killy McKillington") is an evil military commander (but I repeat myself).

Well, it won't surprise you to learn that the biggest supply of unobtanium within 200 klicks is located right underneath that pesky sacred tree where the Blue Man lives. And (apparently) transportation technology has advanced so little that killing the Blue Man and blowing up his tree is seen as a preferable solution to just looking somewhere else.

After a comical series of misadventures involving not-dogs and flaming goo and rhinoceri-that-are-also-sledgehammers, Sully Sullenberger is accepted by the Blue Man, who teach him about sharing and caring and the wisdom of the sacred forest and how every creature has a biological FireWire port at the end of its ponytail or one of its tendrils, which can be linked together to share Pure Moods MP3s for noncommercial purposes. I'm just kidding, there are no commercial purposes among the Blue Man.

Sully's real role, of course, is to convince the Blue Man to leave his ancestral sacred tree, so that von Selfish can get the unobtanium without having to send in McKillington to do some McKilling. If he succeeds, then they'll pay for doctors to fix his paraplegia, which Obamacare apparently would not do.

It should come as no surprise to you that Sully discovers that (despite their not having bathrooms or electricity or even YouTube, or maybe because of all these things) life with the noble savage Blue Man is better than life among the so-called "civilized" White Man.

Now, life on the Blue Man Planet is ruled by an inter-species Antiochan Contract, where before jacking into and riding (e.g.) a not-horse or a not-pterodactyl, you have to get permission from the Womyn's center. (For no real reason, not-pterodactyls FireWire with only one Blue Man for life; not-horses are comparatively promiscuous.) After carefully negotiating these treacherous waters, Sully dips his quill into the blue ink.

Where he discovers that (as they say) "Once You Go Blue, Nothing Else Will Do," and then it's all-out warfare, with important diversions to criticize greed, belittle terrorism, clamor for health care reform, bemoan the fact that there was "no green" back home on earth, make Desert Storm references, and a bunch of other things, all of which were very loud.

The 3-D was very impressive. Not only did it not give me the headache I was expecting (which I got from the 100dB explosions instead), but its use was fairly restrained. (Compare with the trailer for Tim Burton Presents Alice in Wonderland 3D which consisted primarily of 60 seconds of anthropomorphic playing cards trying to stab me.)

In the end, the Tree of Souls saves the day, as do other tribes of Blue Men ("Comanche" and "Cherokee") who ride in on not-horses and help out. At the risk of providing spoilers, let's just say that McGreedum and McKillington both get what they deserve for trying to rape a planet.

For some reason the movie didn't contain any references to the McDonalds Avatar Meal, but that's probably because I didn't see the IMAX version (which was sold out until approximately March).

In conclusion, did you know that they're remaking Clash of the Titans? Bastards.

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