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Proof of the un-impressiveness of Avatar’s record!

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Thank you, Forbes.

Eat this Avatar! 

And just for some added joy, I am not the only one lamenting the clichés of Avatar:

epic fail pictures

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Categories: Uncategorized

Review: Avatar

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Warning:  Spoilers abound!

So now that Avatar is hurtling through box office history, it’s time that I went and wrote a review.

Little of what I have to say hasn’t been heard before: the visuals are outstanding, inventive, gorgeous, and entirely convincing.  There are fantastic creatures I never would have imagined on my own:  delicate tree seeds that are crosses between dandelion fuzz and jellyfish,  hammer-headed rhinos, horses with aardvark heads, and many others.  Many animals have six legs instead of four, for no real reason but to show that this place is an exotic Other World.  And the story is pure and utter cheese.

Steven D. Greydanus, a movie reviewer whose site ranks among my top ten (see, decentfilms.com), summarized the plot best: “Not only is it Star Wars and The Matrix, it’s also John Smith and Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves and Fahrenheit 9/11, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Rider Haggard, Hayao Miyazaki and Jack Kirby, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest and Battle for Terra, Jurassic Park and Aliens. It’s noble primitives and warmongering Westerners, imperialist and expansionist guilt and no blood for oil, Cortez and Custer and George W. Bush in one fell swoop. It’s environmental apocalypticism, Gaia and the Force, Vulcan mind-melding and fal tor pan mysticism and Disney’s Grandmother Willow. It’s space Marines and military oppressiveness, mystic/enlightened feminist consciousness and interspecies romance.”

Essentially, it’s every single Hollywood cliché and deeply held belief all put together into one amazing CGI package!

Thus, my enthusiam for the visuals was strongly tempered by disgust for the storyline.  It’s not that seeing innocent Na’vis’ sacred places being destroyed didn’t make me want to shed a tear, or that I wasn’t a bit happy that they were able to fight back.  It’s just that most of the way through the show I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes at the absurdly black-and-white thinking of Cameron’s Earth antagonists.  It didn’t help that Earth seemed to be only represented by white U.S. males, and that the mercenaries hired to “overthrow” the Na’vi were U.S. soldiers.  During the tensest battle scenes in the movie, it occurred to me that we were supposed to be rooting against the U.S. soldiers.  We were supposed to be thrilled each time one died.  This was sick.

I have taken the liberty of locating some of the following absurd Hollywood belief system clichés in Avatar:

Natives are pure and live in perfect harmony with nature.  They are kind and gorgeous and in terrific shape.  They have no technology and are presumably very into Going Green.  Animals are considered Brothers and Sisters and killing them is considered a very sad event, yet for some reason the Na’vi are not vegetarians.

White men are greedy warmongering pigs.  All white men in this movie aside from the Hero whose name I cannot remember (perhaps due to his subdued screen presence) and one other guy who’s kind of wimpy think of the Na’vi as dangerous murderous savages and are too pigheaded to think of them in any other light.  Will they consider working with the Na’vi, or trying to understand their culture, or negotiating with them in order to get the “unobtanium”?  No, a thousand times no!  They will consent to nothing but flinging themselves into full-fledged war with presumed killers! 

The perfect native religion is matriarchal and goddess-centered.  As men (especially white men from the U.S.) are overwhelmingly violent and pig-headed, the perfect pure religion must certainly be focused on female divinities and leaders. 

Any non-pigheaded white man who starts living with an indigenous population will want to stay with them forever.   Also see Dances with Wolves.  The hero, who has the virtue of open-mindedness that other white men do not, lives with the Na’vi as one of them, and is entranced by their way of life.  In this case it’s understandable, for the Na’vi live in a paradise and get to ride flying dragons.  ‘Nuff said.  The open-minded white man turns from his own kind forever in favor of the indigenous population, which would be quite a difficult task in my opinion when you’d assume the guy has family, friends, and a life back home on Earth, but in the movie it just takes a moment of decision.

White women are less pigheaded than white men.  The Sigourney Weaver character is a scientist with the Pandora invaders who wants to study their ways.  She, of course, is the only other white person who is open-minded.  Oh, but there is a female helicopter pilot who in the end rejects the evil violent ways of her pigheaded white peers.  Which can be attributed partly to the fact that she’s female.  Which was a dramatic plot twist that shocked nobody and appeased feminists (not that this movie needed to do anything more, really!).

In short, Visuals = Good, and Storyline = PC Mumbo-Jumbo.  Well worth seeing in theaters, but in my opinion does not deserve to topple Titanic.  Which apparently it just did recently, according to the world-wide box office.  In the domestic box office it’s just passed The Dark Knight, which just about breaks my heart, as TDK left an impression on me that Avatar never could (I only saw it five times in theaters).

My heart would be broken for good if not for the smug confidence of knowing that when adjusted for inflation Gone With The Wind is still the top earner, and will probably never be beat.  (Plus, who has made the adjustment for Avatar‘s extra money from 3D tickets?  That person I would like to talk to.)

When all is said and done, should the box office really matter?  (My soul says “It’s an important status thing and you know it!” but my reason is trying to drown in out.)  When regarding Avatar, I can’t see the characters becoming a part of pop culture in the way that, for instance, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia have–or even Jack and Rose.  The Star Wars characters had a freshness to them–sure, they represented archetypes that have been in stories for generations, but they were also distinct and relatable.  Jack and Rose at least had strong chemistry and humanity.  Neytiri and What’s-His-Name?  Well, if I were in the same room with Neytiri I think she would scare me, and I’m not talking about her 12 feet of height or catlike aspects.  What’s-His-Name is too wooden for me to feel a strong connection to.  After all, I can’t even remember his name.

Perhaps I’ve become a little too jaded to appreciate this “film event.”  Or perhaps I’m still spoiled by my first breathless viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (truly, sincerely, I have never viewed films the same way since).  In any case, I would only give Avatar a 3 stars out of 4, and I’m am starting to feel concern over this year’s Oscars…~

Hitler Saddened By Democrats’ Loss of Senate Seat

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Video:  Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusett’s Senate Seat

Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Categories: Uncategorized

Is 60-year-old tradition “nevermore”?

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Every year, early in the morning on the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, a mysterious stranger visits the famous writer’s grave in Baltimore and leaves  a half-bottle of cognac and three roses.  The tradition was started by the unknown man nicknamed the “Poe Toaster” in 1949 until 1999, when apparently the tradition was carried on by a son.  Up to 150 people at a time will show up every year on Jan. 19 to witness the ritual, coming from as far away as Japan.  The appearance of the Poe Toaster has been an exciting and unexplained event for decades…until today.

Why the Toaster did not show up during his usual span of hours between midnight and before 5:30 a.m. is not known.  Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe house, said in a Baltimore Sun article, “I’ve been doing this since 1977, and there was no indication he wasn’t going to show up.”  Some are thinking that perhaps the Toaster decided to stop with the Poe bicentenniel last year.  But why, then, not leave some sort of the note at the grave, as had been done in previous years?

I’m hoping that unforeseen circumstances kept the Poe Toaster from reaching the gravesite.  It is too sad to think of such a fun and touching event just ending out of the blue.  Such a mysterious tradition was not only fitting for the memory of a writer like Poe, but by gosh it had romance, in the old-fashioned sense of the word:

Dictionary.com:  romance (r-mns, rmns).  2. A mysterious or   fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.

The modern world doesn’t have much interest in romance, it seems.  It’s all hard-boiled “realism” (which can be every bit as imaginary as idealistic fiction) and cynicism.  Yet individuals such as the Poe Toaster remind us that romance is alive, as it’s always been throughout the generations, albeit in fewer places. 

I hope I’m not the only one who would like to send a plea somewhere out there in Baltimore for this tradition to stay alive–for the sake of Poe and for the sake of romance-seekers everywhere.

                                     

Some thoughts on the past decade, pt. 2. Now with Uggs!

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ll bet that people from the Middle Ages times would think to themselves, “What will life be like in the year 2000?”  Perhaps rumors flew the fastest in the earlier part of the 20th century (the advent of the industrial age).  There were quite a few guesses on what the futuristic world of 2000 would be like.   Apparently, it was generally agreed that it would be something like this:

y22kImage5.jpg image by sezlez369

I must say that the truth is decidedly disappointing.

Then again, our own modern predictions on what the future will be like have often proved to be just as erroneous:

(No offense to the King of Pop here by the way–truly.)

So here’s a top five list of what I think are the most important events of the 2000s:

  1. September 11, 2001.
  2. Terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
  3. 2001’s September attack in NYC
  4. World Trade Center attack in 2001
  5. The destruction of the Two Towers and deaths of 3,000 people.

I think that pretty much sums it up. 

But what about other important events?  When people look back and think “2000s” (or “00s” or “aughties” or what have you–we’ll probably never decide on a name) what will they think of?  Here’s five other momentous occasions in recent history, mainly dealing with the U.S.:

  1. The capture of Saddam Hussein
  2. Hurricane Katrina (and the other hurricanes)
  3. The Iraq/Afghanistan occupations
  4. The election of Barack Hussein Obama
  5. The death of Michael Jackson

Speaking of the King of Pop…no. 5 may seem a little odd, in regards to the other items, but his impact on popular music is with us forever, and his death was worldwide front-page news.  I can’t think of any other popstar so big that his funeral would warrant LIVE coverage on all the major networks.  Unbelievable.  We may never see that again in our lifetimes.

And now for the fun stuff:  trends.  Here’s what I will always remember:

  1. iPods and mp3s
  2. Stick-straight layered hair and side-swept bangs
  3. Emos
  4. Hip-hop
  5. Uggs
  6. Flared jeans
  7. “Going Green”
  8. Crocs (regrettably)
  9. “Natural” looking makeup
  10. Reality TV (namely, American Idol)

All in all, with the exception of a few completely nonsensical trends (as in the case of the reviled, hated, horrible, and dippy-looking Crocs), I think fashion took a turn for the better.  There was more interest in flattering the figure and finding the best hairstyle for your face shape, and hairstyles in general were more polished.  Makeup showed off the natural beauty of women’s features, rather than coating them with goop (that’s right, early 90s).  Yes, some guys wore stupid baggy pants that let their underwear show, but the general preference for looser slacks instead of fitted pants for guys was an improvement.  (I’m looking at you, 80s, cesspool of all that was unattractive!) 

I could add more, such as the obsession with “dewy” skin and having a “sun-kissed glow” (while hysterically telling women to STAY OUT OF THE SUN!!!) and the “tousled beach waves” hairstyle that’s still in.  But I think we get the picture.

There is so much I could say about movies and music that why not leave it for another blog post?  Alright, then, if you wish, then I will. ~

Some thoughts on the past decade pt. 1

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I suppose I’m a little late for this post. If I were on schedule with the rest of the media I would have churned out several top ten lists by mid-December musing upon the last decade of the new millenium.

Speaking of which, before New Year’s I saw a list on Yahoo.com that compiled the “worst mistakes of the 2009” or something to that effect. I’ve tried my darnedest to relocate that article but it seems to have disappeared into whatever black hole so many old Yahoo news articles fall into. One was about the “Air Force One photo incident,” which happened back in April. What Air Force One photo incident? you ask. To which I reply, EXACTLY.

For the first time ever, I read about the incident that happened on April 27th, when a White House Military Office-approved photo shoot of a Boeing VC-25 flying low over New York City was carried out. (This Boeing VC-25 becomes the Air Force One when the President in on board, which in this case he wasn’t.) The main problem aside from the tacky decision to photograph the President’s aircraft flying nearly at the altitude needed to slam into a skyscraper was the fact that NYC was not notified of the photo shoot. Understandingly, people grew nervous when they saw a plane apparently about to stage a terrorist attack, and there was panic in the streets along with evacuated buildings. Whoops!

Obama apparently had no idea the photo op happened until after the fact, and was very upset by such relentless stupidity.

I tend to keep up with the news, but have absolutely no recollection of hearing about that photo shoot. Which must mean that it barely made the news. Let us imagine, if you will, that such a photo shoot had happened when Bush was still in office, a few years after 2001. Why, there would have been no end to the coverage of this embarrassing incident! Not only the White House Military Office, but indeed the entire administration including Bush personally would be held up to ridicule, and asked how could they possibly support such idiocy? Yet it happens in 2009, and if not for that item in Yahoo news it would never have come to my attention.

Alright, more to come late, most likely in the form of a top ten list.  After all, I am rather fond of top ten lists.~