The Avatar Debate: It Will Suck

For 12 years, the world has awaited director James Cameron's follow up to Titanic. Today, the misguided prayers of a zillion fanboys have been answered, and they will be sorry.

We stand before you today to proclaim, sight unseen that Avatar will suck.

We offer a caveat: When you see this film you may not realize that what you just experienced was a nightmare from the bowels of entertainment. You may be so overwhelmed by the graphic experience and special effects that you walk away thinking that what you just experienced was, in fact, great. In the weeks that follow while you watch the massive box office total rise and rise, you may experience the rush of being on an enormous bandwagon sweeping you away into something enormous.

But somewhere deep inside, a part of you will know you are living a lie. And someday down the line, a reckoning will come. Perhaps it will be a quiet moment, sitting alone late at night four years from now when you catch a moment of the film on cable; perhaps it will be decades hence when you stare in the eyes of your grandchildren, their pain of betrayal piercing your soul as they ask "Did you really like this boring movie grandma?" But the day will come when you will see that Avatar did in fact suck, that you had allowed yourself to be caught up in a mass hysteria, and as a result your every opinion about art and indeed about the affairs of mankind should be considered suspect.

As I write this item, the embargo on Avatar reviews has just been broken and the internet is being flooded by critics proclaiming the film is actually great. Before our eyes we are witnessing even hardened Cameron skeptics, breaking down and falling in line behind the film. These are the moments that test men's souls, but we will not bend.

To begin with, we submit to you the track record. Although we like the early, blowing-stuff-up period of James Cameron, with Titanic he took a drastically wrong turn into the deeply overwrought pretension, and once you have gone down that road, and been so wildly celebrated for it, there is no turning back. And all available evidence suggests that turn back he has not.

In fact to know how the history of Avatar will play out one need look no further than Titanic. Bowled over by the megalomaniacal technical accomplishment, critics and audiences alike suspended all rational judgment and bestowed all the laurels our society has to offer on Cameron's boat sinking blunderbuss. From the Academy of Motion Pictures to mobs of teenage girls, the one thing we as a society could agree on — or else — was that Titanic was a masterpiece.

Only 12 years later are the scales beginning to fall so that sensible people can agree, Titanic was perhaps the worst movie ever made.

The first half of Titanic is the most mind-numbingly tedious tour through Cameron's big erector set driven by romance story that seemed to have been written by a 14-year-old on his first day high school filmmaking class given an assignment to write a new project for a ressurected Joan Blondell. And then came the second half which was essentially an aquatic snuff film in which we spend an hour watching people in olde timey dress get drowned. And then there was a Celine Dion song. And a bookend from the present.

Not having seen Avatar, but judging by the ample footage available in trailers and promotional materials, all the crimes of Titanic look to be present in Avatar: overwrought pretentious themes and infintile storytelling and characterization grafted on to an atomic bomb on a technical achievement meant to bludgeon you into submission with its effects prowess.

Now, we're all for imagineers creating breathtaking new worlds for audiences; and the place where such accomplishments to be beheld properly is on a ride at Disneyland. We'd be delighted to line up for an eight minute "James Cameron's Mission to Pandora; The 3D IMAX Experience." That sounds like just the right amount of Pandora for us.

And we're also all for mindless action movies. It's when mindless action movies attempt to convey big meaningful themes — Avatar is about the environment — that they morph from amusingly stupid to laughably stupid; like having a 14-year-old boy suddenly lecturing you about your duty to the world, as told through a parable of blue space creatures.

And to recap some of the crimes of Avatar we've previously compiled in our lonely truthwatch:

  • The aliens have cougar noses and look like Jar Jar Binks.
  • The characters have names like Colonel Miles Quaritch, Trudy Chacon, Selfridge, Neytiri and Jake Sully.
  • Sample line of dialouge: "every living thing wants to kill you and eat your eyes for Jujubees."
  • James Cameron employed a USC linguistics professor "to create an entire functioning language for the tribe of 10-foot-tall blue aliens who inhabit Pandora, the setting for the film's conflict." Which is all well and good that the Na'vi tribe got a functioning language, but raises the question why couldn't Cameron have commissioned a functioning language for the film's humans? Wasn't there any linguistics professor available who could put the kibosh on lines such as "We're not in Kansas anymore. We're on Pandora," whose moldy, phoned-in essences threaten to murder the mother tongue from which their ancestors descended?
  • And of course there was this interview in which Cameron detailed the obsessive overtime work his crew did to get the ten foot tall blue alien heroine's boobs exactly right.

Throw in the two hour and 40 minute running time and all we can say is that may be long enough to bludgeon you into submission to Avatar, but is it really long enough to kill off that part of you, somewhere deep inside, that knows very well that this is wrong and someday, somehow, someone must speak up?

Happy viewing space warriors.