Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

Revisiting Avatar. Why do people hate this film so much?

Posted by Max Lalanne on August 16, 2012

Avatar

Zoe Saldana in Avatar.

I gave Avatar a re-watch recently, and after finishing James Cameron’s magnum opus I kept thinking, “Why do people hate this film so much?” The curiously loud animosity was obvious when talk of Avatar sequels emerged on Twitter a few weeks ago; the majority seemed not to care about what happened next on Pandora and its fellow moons, or indeed whatever else Cameron would concoct up within the vast universe of Avatar. That’s just sad, really.

I  mean, come on – it’s easy to be mean against the big inviting target that presents itself as Avatar, and everyone knows that. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, and swiftly became the highest-grossing movie of all time. It’s directed by James “King of the World” Cameron, a filmmaker who, for some, is not entirely known for his subtlety when it comes to well-crafted storytelling. And it prominently features tall blue aliens (thanks to the wondrous system of motion-capture technology) and yet, by the end of Avatar, Cameron managed to convince us that the true aliens are the cruel corporate and military figures who want to strip a pristine world of its natural resources and subsequently destroy it. Sound familiar?

Avatar is a magnificent and sloppily grandiose Hollywood spectacle of the highest kind, and its astonishingly well-intentioned heart at its center that keeps me from focusing too much on its flaws. (And upon a re-watch, dozens of obvious flaws jumped out at me.) That’s the bare truth of it. This is one film, if there are any others, where one should just sit back and enjoy the breathtaking experience and the awesome scale of it all, and really let yourself be – pardon the abundant cheesiness – swept away to Pandora and its denizens, both local and foreign. If you can’t do that, well then you’ve lost a childlike sense of magic that is essential for good old-fashioned movie-watching of this sort. 

Have at it in the comments below.  

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