Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stupid Sci-Fi

I've contained myself as long as I could, here's my Avatar rant. There will be spoilers, if you haven't seen it yet and keep reading don't get mad at me.

I saw the film with my son a few weeks ago and was glad he enjoyed it, I was impressed by the visual spectacle of it all, 3-D actually improved and enhanced the film, otherwise I hated it.

The movie was simply stupid. It has an earth apparently choking to death on it's own pollution that has found an alien world with an interesting biology and awesome material resources in the form of Unobtanium (fuck you Cameron). This unobtanium is so valuable it prompt's a corporation from a resource starved earth launch a mining program and fund an amazing cloning-mind transfer procedure and trust it to a corporate governor that is a mental midget and a macho tin soldier cut out military commander that doesn't seem to understand the tiniest iota of military strategy.

The Avatar program is capable of growing fully functioning adult bodies of an alien species and allowing a human to not just remotely control them but to project their consciousness into them. Expensive or not, the avatar program would be the solution to earths problems in and of itself. If the environment is so bad humans can't live in it anymore: make new people that can, you have the technology.

The avatar program is so expensive Jake the hero gets recruited to replace his dead twin brother because of biological compatibility. Jake has no training at all, no idea of what his mission will be and of course does well in seconds and is allowed to go on what must be resource rich missions with no training to speak of.

This avatar program is so expensive the corporate idiot in charge ignores all input and seems to almost completely disregard it exists. Corporate idiot is told about the really cool bio-communication all the life on the planet shares and how information could be shred by everything on the planet and totally blows it off. Is this a sci-future with computers and information systems or not? Even if corporate idiot wants the unobtanium (fuck you Cameron) why doesn't he pause and say "hmm how could we make money off of this too?" or "hmm, maybe we could hack this information network to our advantage", it took me 30 seconds to think those two points, I suppose I'm too smart to be the corporate governor of an interstellar mining colony in a universe where Earth is running out of resources.

The military commander is sneaky enough to use Jake the hero as his "secret way in" to learn about the aliens and either learns nothing he couldn't with a telescope or utterly ignores all the input from Jake the hero who runs an avatar in an really expensive research program that can create mature alien bodies that function. The military commander doesn't seem to understand tactics however when he deploys ground forces during an aerial assault in terrain dominated by floating mountains for no reason I could see other then to give some toy properties a foundation in the film.

The aerial assault is apparently done in aircraft that move really damned slow thanks to a bullshitium energy field that screws up human tech sensors; the same technology that could get people to the planet, launch an insanely expensive side program that could create functioning adult aliens just can't cope and produce aerial combat craft that can fly faster then winged animals.

The robot armor suits are boring but a step up from The Matrix, these armor suits have plexi-glass shields over the exposed human operators. The robot armor boys use actual separate firearms and big ass macho knives; ever notice tanks don't hold weapons in big mechanical hands? But sure these robot armor is supposed to be versatile and of no apparent use except for being a bigger target then a person.

The expensive Avatar program is so expensive there are some spare Avatar control pods just laying around the scientists are able to secure for themselves and avoid corporate and military involvement when lazy writing couldn't think of another way to move the story forward.

The alien sentients look too much like people, forgivable when it's people in costumes but this is all CGI, they don't' have to look so much like people except for cheap story telling reasons. The aliens are so alien compared to people I seriously doubt we could have a conversation with them: they can organically communicate with other life forms, effectively and meaningfully. Why the hell do they have a spoken language that says anything more complex then being able to yell warnings? They could certainly commune with each other with their magic ponytails and never need to develop a complex spoken language.

The aliens emotions key to facial expressions just like ours do, here in western culture. Not every human on earth shares the same set of facial expressions keyed to emotions, stupid sci-fi aliens do so only for lazy story telling.

Of course Jake the hero stumbles into and falls in love with the alien princess and this works out for him and the story plot. Sure they do only make stories about interesting things but it's a ridiculously beaten to death storyline.

In the end the primitive aliens in touch with their environment send the earth men packing back to their dying home world: leaving Jake the Hero behind as the greatest traitor to the human race that has ever existed.

It's all dumb sci-fi, having half a brain capable of solving problems in the story with resources mentioned within the story in most situations would have completely nullified the story.


  1. This is the reason why I haven't seen yet. I'm not big into movies that want to spoon feed me my morality. I've heard of how beautiful it is, but I've never been an advocate for style over substance. Thanks for the review.

  2. I like the movie. I feel people really need to sit back and just enjoy this film for the fun and adventure and spectacle it is intended to be.

    I have followed a lot of the negativity that has been poured out against this movie and have had a bit of a chuckle when I consider that most of it comes from people who spend a good part of their time rolling dice as they blaze ever forward through dungeons in search of treasure, butting heads between fictional aliens and humanity in their own versions of science fiction, etc., etc..

    We very much like to poke holes in other peoples' works in our hobby, all the while holding our own brands of "perfect" to some unmatchable standard that really is only as solid and profound as the mind's eye looking at it.


  3. Eli, I'm not asking the story to fit my version of sci-fi, I'm asking it to find rationality in it's own little universe, unless of course the story is all about the inherent irrationality of the system (which it wasn't).

    The hero gets involved because the Avatar program is so expensive and they don't want to waste the work put into it and then everyone in authority ignores all the input the hero provides in the program.

    It's inherently irrational to the point of absurdity when the rest of the film is factored in.

  4. Calling your Unobtanium macguffin, "Unobtanium" shows complete and total contempt for your viewing public. Making your "hero" a traitor, means you don't care about the story. Pretty cgi, but no story. Typical James Cameron.

    Check out

  5. i think i would have enjoyed the movie more
    IF I brought my ipod -
    tuned out the sound track
    and watched the pretty pictures

    I thought the aliens were creepy -
    I wonder if James Cameron is a pedophile;
    the blue cat people looked alot like
    twelve year old girls
    (including their feet)

  6. Meh, I saw a movie that was fun to watch and had some cool stuff in it. Didn't find the aliens creepy or pervy (what they didn't have big enough breasts?). I like the visuals and the story may have been flimsy but I didn't go into it expecting much.

    Also, as I recall, the main character doesn't really give much in the way of input that anybody with an agenda is going to listen to. The way I saw it, they sent him in hoping he would give them something and when he didn't, they went along with agenda in spite of his input.

    I think we can agree that our own world is full of examples where the best advice is ignored because it doesn't line up with "the plan".

    I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one.

  7. Hilarious post.

    The main problem is Avatar is not a sci-fi story. It is a clich├ęd, retread of a story told 100 times before. They hung sci-fi elements onto it in order to justify doing it in CGI/3D. Oh, and they crammed the two boys/one girl romance in there cause that is what hollywood does 99.99% of the time.

    Story had been told in Princess Mononoke and a few dozen other anime movies/series, also about 1/3 of all Disney movies. Silent Running is one of the first and best tellings of this story (man sides with nature against man).

  8. I'm totally with Norman here -- it's all retread. And sloppy retread at that.

  9. Amazing spectacle.

    Aliens and T2 were better stories.

    Was surprised and pleased to see Sigourney Weaver: I didn't know she was in this movie.

  10. exactly eli, JD is correct
    these are alien creatures . . .
    why do they look so human?

    why did they have breasts at all?
    why did they have no snouts ?
    why did their bodies have no hair or scales ?
    why did they walk like humans?
    why not sauropods or insects ?

    see these links below . . .