All entries for December 2009

December 23, 2009

Review: James Cameron's 'Avatar'

Writing about web page http://tieyourcamel.co.uk/movies/review-james-camerons-avatar


About four months ago I was invited to watch a long preview of James Cameron's hugely expensive'Avatar'</a>. I predicted it would be 'Pocahontas in Space'. I continued:


Civilised-but-crippled (just physically?) white man gets out of his depth in an alien world, has his life saved by a native woman (with a strange accent!), slowly assimilates into their culture and way of living managing inexplicably to better the natives at their own way of life before, for some reason, the white civilised culture (with token ethnic characters) tries to 'save' or attempts to eradicate the native population.  


It turns out I was exactly right. If you're looking for a highly-original plot, Avatar's not the film for you. But then Cameron's speciality isn't really originality; it's the ability to take a cliche and make it fun, exciting and interesting. And I have to admit that I was misguided in my expectations. I thought the film would be terrible. I was wrong. It's an awesome cliched monster of a film that is best enjoyed in a cinema with a big screen.


So what is it really all about? A former marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), gets roped into working with the 'Avatar Program' on an alien world ('Pandora' - what will happen when we open up this box I wonder!). The program's a corporate-bought scientific exploration into the planet's native flora, fauna and 'indigenous'. Sully's role? To replace his brother (and save the company money regrowing an 'Avatar') and to use his marine expertise to safeguard the science crews. He also has another mission: to spy on the indigenes to find a way to remove them from their central home-place; a giant tree called 'the Mother Tree'. In this he's enlisted by a hard-ass Patton-type character, Colonol Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and Mr Big Corporate Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi). 


Nothing original here. Cold-hearted Sully, uncaring cog in the colonial machine lives with the indigenes for a while and 'goes native'. He realises how awesome their way of life is and does all he can to protect it. He bests the natives at their own game and becomes a demi-God/chieftain in the process. We've seen it all before: Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai etc. 


The dialogue is not great and at times it's pretty atrocious. The actors manage to lift the film above its hideous script and the awkwardness sometimes becomes more convincing when delivered by any of the 'Na'vi' or Sam Worthington. Subtlety isn't really present in this film's themes. The indigenes are more in tune with the environment than the colonisers who view them as savages? Well I never! I have expected the characters to burst into 'Colors of the Wind'. There are even some Ferngully-esque bulldozers romping around. 


The CG, however, is top-notch - monumental even. But then again what did we expect from a Cameron film? He's gone beyond the CG and created an entire eco-system. Although the Biological Internet and hair connections aren't very convincing, he's at least consistent. Most of the animals have six legs, suggesting a common ancestry. The flora is lush and varied.


This is not really a film - it's a spectacle. I doubt it would be as interesting on the small screen (yes, even in HD on our large HD Televisions). It needs a large, clear screen, a set of 3D glasses and a throbbing sound from high-quality speakers. You don't want to over-analyse it; just enjoy the ride. Go watch it while it's still available!


Rating: 7/10 


NB - I would have rated this film more highly had it had something resembling decent dialogue. As it stands it's really good fun but not much more. It should make an excellent game but, apparently, the tie-in they've licensed is predictably terrible (tie-in curse). Perhaps an MMORPG will some day be in the works?


December 22, 2009

Watch Godard's '2 or 3 Things I Know About Her' free today.

Follow-up to Watch Resnais' 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour' free today! from The Story of Hamid-o

The Auteurs has decided to gift us with another French classic today, just in time for Christmas! This time it really is the last day to catch it and they're ending on a high note: Jean-Luc Godard's '2 or 3 Things I Know About Her'. This is the last film of the Stella Artois 'Recyclage de Luxe' film festival on the Auteurs. Watch it here, today, for free in the UK only: The Auteurs(18+)


December 21, 2009

Watch Resnais' 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour' free today!

Follow-up to Watch Marker's 'La Jetée' free on The Auteurs today (subtitled) from The Story of Hamid-o

Today's the last day of the Stella Artois 'Recyclage de Luxe' film festival on the Auteurs. They're today showcasing Resnais' 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour' (subtitled). It's been the end of a great week for we film-lovers and I've learned a lot. Enjoy here: http://www.theauteurs.com/stellaartois (18+, UK Only)


December 20, 2009

Watch Marker's 'La Jetée' free on The Auteurs today (subtitled)

Follow-up to Godard's 'Vivre Sa Vie' from The Story of Hamid-o

If you're interested in the work of 'nouvelle vague' director Chris Marker, you mustn't miss the chance to catch his classic film 'La Jetée' on The Auteurs today. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/tasrd(18+, UK Only). It was the inspiration behind Gilliam's great 'Twleve Monkeys'.


December 19, 2009

Godard's 'Vivre Sa Vie'

Follow-up to Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows' – watch free today! from The Story of Hamid-o

If you're interested in the work of 'nouvelle vague' director Jean-Luc Godard, you mustn't miss the chance to catch his classic film 'Vivre Sa Vie' on The Auteurs today. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/tasrd(18+, UK Only)


December 16, 2009

Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows' – watch free today!

Follow-up to 7 classic French films in 7 days @ The Auteurs from The Story of Hamid-o

I'm often sceptical when it comes to classic French cinema - I tend to be more a fan of German/Weimar pre-war films and then (guilty I know!) American post-war cinema. I do, however, have respect for many of the French films I've seen (Le Petit Soldatsprings to mind). 

I'd been meaning to watch more New Wave cinema for quite some time and then I had the opportunity to do it with The Auteur's Stella Artois online film festival (18+, UK Only). I didn't regret it. Its cinematography, story and performances are completely spot-on. Excellent. 

If you want to watch it today (for free) then head on to: www.theauteurs.com/stellaartois 




December 14, 2009

7 classic French films in 7 days @ The Auteurs

Writing about web page http://www.theauteurs.com/stellaartois

Stella Artois is bringing  French classics of the '60s to The Auteurs for 7 days starting tomorrow. This is UK only and do remember to drink responsibly!

I remember studying French and German cinema back at Warwick for a while as part of my History degree. It gave me a better insite into classic films in general (and if you're doing History now I think the module was History of Germany) - we covered Weimer films and I wrote an essay on the post-war cinematic reactions of France and Germany.

These gilms are from the '60s and the roster is:


Lola - 1961

The 400 Blows - 1959

Jules and Jim - 1962

Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis -1966

Vivre sa vie - 1962

La Jetee - 1962

Hiroshima, mon amour - 1959






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