I'm struggling to articulate my feelings towards Avatar at the moment.


On one hand this is a milestone achievement. Where other films have already accomplished hyper-realistic computer generated imagery before, Avatar marks the end of the era in which it matters. There wasn't a single frame of this film I didn't believe. It was 100% real down to the most minute detail. In other words, I wasn't thinking about it. In other other words, all I was focusing on was the story.



Which brings me to the other hand. I was bored. Against all probability I was actually bored. The logical part of my mind tells me this was due to all the hype surrounding it, how people were hailing this as the second coming. There was no way Avatar could have lived up to those expectations. I suspect that should I see it a second time I would enjoy it much more. So, wanting to be fair and rational about this, I attempted to break it down to it's core strengths and weaknesses.


It had a solid structure, it was brilliantly shot, the acting was great the writing was decent and it had lots of great little details that helped make it all feel really... well, real. So how come it didn't rock my socks off? I think I know why now.



It was the right message for the wrong time.


Now that might seem like a strange thing to say, especially because of how environmentally aware the world has become and how the oil crisis is coming to a head, but that's the very reason why it's irrelevant. We all know how important our planet is and we're making strides to improve how we live within it. We all know how invading countries for resources is wrong and that's why there's such an uproar whenever our governments move to do so.



James Cameron wrote Avatar back when this stuff wasn't being taken seriously. Then he waited, what, fifteen or so years for technology to "catch up"? Well, in that time the world moved beyond the need for it. Now it just feels like preaching to the choir after the choir boys have all become priests. You're not selling anything mainstream culture hasn't already bought.


Even worse, the message is delivered with all the subtlety and nuance of a sledge hammer to the face. I spent the whole movie drawing effortless parallels between Pandora and our world. Oh, the Navi are just Native Americans. Oh, those creatures they ride are just horses. Oh, those humans are just the worst attributes of Modern America. It's all been done before and usually with more tact.



To quote the darkest depths of the Ain't It Cool News Feedback Section... "It's Pocahontas meets Ferngully in space."


That is a painfully accurate analogy of Avatar. Mind you, despite me saying I was bored at times, it's not as bad as them. Thankfully. It's just by-the-numbers storytelling done well. I could see exactly where it was going from the first minute and, while done with quite a bit of style, it never once surprised me. There are no twists and it plays out exactly the way you think it will.


My only other qualm with the film is that the romantic thread completely diminishes the nobility of the protagonist's actions. It's exactly the same problem I had with Disney's Hercules. If the hero becomes entangled in a romantic relationship with the sympathetic party, their motivations are no longer selfless. They have a personal incentive to save the one they love, and incidentally their people. But that's a pretty fickle personal gripe. Oh, and the villains are one-dimensional in the extreme. But besides that...



The verdict? Avatar tells a very familiar story well and while it's a little thematically dated and heavy-handed it pretty much makes up for it with great action and strong performances.


Just don't go expecting anything new or, sadly, the next Titanic.

PERIOD

Another One!

Here's another one of my writing exercises. I just love absurd duos...

If it helps for visualization, it centers around two men in an open desert.

Diplomacy Breaks Down

“Fine,” Andrew calmly responded, searching his immediate surroundings for a sharp, pointy object. He picked up the first stick he could find.
“Woah,” Carl said, taking a step back from Andrew, “I thought we were going to be diplomatic about this!”
Andrew gave an impatient snort and bent over to draw a line in the sand.
“You cannot be serious...”
Andrew stopped mid-line.
“I fail to see the problem with this solution.”
“Well, I can see at least three.”
Andrew raised his eyebrows, skeptical that Carl possessed the mental intelligence to deliver on his promise.
“Firstly, though we are in an unfamiliar desert, we are forced to assume said desert lies within the boundaries of a pre-existing country we ARE familiar with, one with a government that would not appreciate our dividing up of their land.”
At this Andrew stood upright and looked around.
“If that were true then we shall consider this a hostile takeover.”
“What?!”
“Yes. I do not see any military resistance, so we shall take this as a sign of surrender!”
Andrew finished the line in the sand.
“You’re mad.”
“No, I’m the dictator of a new nation which will henceforth be known as Andrewnia.”
Carl looked down at the line, then over into the nation of Andrewnia.
“And where does this nation end?”
“Simple. At the point in which the original country found it’s borders.”
“Right, and where does it begin?”
Andrew furrowed his brow.
“Excuse me?”
Carl smugly drew Andrew’s attention back to the line at their feet. A mild breeze had already washed it away.
“Ah,” Andrew mumbled in understanding, “I see the second problem.”
Andrew stared at the desert floor for a time, unable to fix the fundamental flaw in his plan. Finally he looked back at Carl.
“You indicated there was a third problem?”
“Yes,” Carl grinned as he casually pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Andrew’s cranium, “I have a gun.”
Andrew’s expression did not change and he calmly stared at the pistol in his face. Then, abandoning all diplomacy, he rugby tackled Carl.
“AAARRRGGGHHH!!!”


By Luke Orrin

I'll have to transplant that into one of my scripts.

Okay, I can't speak for anyone else, but this is EXACTLY what goes through my mind when I see a nice girl:


Don't ask my why, but I get a feeling I'm not the only one.

Hesitation

I cannot recall a time when I tried to write anything purely from a woman's perspective. Obvious reasons aside, I figured it was time to stretch myself in these 30 minute writing challenges and write stuff I normally do all in my power to avoid.

I must confess that I found it to be really fun. Here's my go at it.

Hesitation

“I... I need to go to the toilet,” Adele said, her heart racing faster than she ever thought possible now. John froze absurdly, his lips protruding out expectantly and a look of confusion on his face.
“Really? Right now?” he inquired, as if her bowels could change their mind. She blushed stupidly for a moment before forcing herself up. In the blink of an eye the bathroom door slammed shut and John swore quietly under his breath.

Why now? Why was she hesitating? She’d had strong feelings for John for years. This was exactly what she’d wanted. Even then, while staring anxiously at her own reflection, she could still see John’s heart-meltingly green eyes looking back into hers. She immediately started hating herself for risking John forever associating kissing her with going to the toilet.
She was so pathetic. He was so... understanding of her many faults. She didn’t deserve him. Her mind danced with images of John going to the movies with Kathryn, or having a sleep over with Leia. Just the thought of John being with anyone else made her sick to her stomach, but the thought of her being by his side made her feel oddly guilty, as though her mere proximity to him would somehow diminish all that she loved about him.

“Hellooo?” John’s voice called with a gentle rap on the bathroom door, “are you okay?”
Oh gosh, how long had she been staring into that cursed mirror? She had just left John back there and knowing him, he had probably been worrying about her the whole time.
“Yes! Yes, I’m fine. I just -”
She looked at the freakishly white toilet lid. She hadn’t been lying before when she said she needed to go, but she’d wasted all her time moping at a darn mirror.
“I’m coming out now.”
She’d have to hold it. She’d rather that than having John think she were some sort of... long... toilet going to... person. With a fake flush she straightened her hair and opened the door.

She stopped dead in her tracks to find her face no more than one inch from John’s. He was leaning against the door frame, looking at her with that familiar understanding smile. Adele’s face went a deep crimson and her eyes reflexively fixed upon a rather dull light just behind John’s head.
“I’m sorr -”
John lips, softer than she’d ever imagined, pressed lightly into her own. All thought melted into blissful nothingness. It was like every good feeling she had ever felt all collided in her chest at the same time. Her heart exploded with excitement and yet every muscle relaxed, sedated by the sheer perfection of the moment.

But she relaxed too much and her legs buckled without warning. With a dull thud her rear end made contact with the golden strip dividing the bathroom and living room floor. Any happiness she had just felt was immediately replaced by utter humiliation and self-loathing.
With a hearty laugh, John kneeled down beside her and cupped her chin forcing her to make eye contact with him.
“You’re kinda clumsy, huh?”


By Luke Orrin

A little unoriginal, I know, but how'd I go at writing a chick?

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