Dec 18, 2009

Avatar (2009): B-

Screened in true IMAX 3-D.
 
Oh, how far the mighty have fallen. More than a decade in the making, the much-hyped, ravenously-followed-even-before-its-production Avatar is nothing less than the third time (assuming the unofficially reported tallies of $350 million) director James Cameron has delivered the most expensive movie ever made, after the then-record-setting budgets of 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day and 1997's Titanic. But whereas his previous works are typically remembered for both their savory implementation of groundbreaking special effects (always in the name of dramatic storytelling) as well as their sterling entertainment-oriented blockbuster artistry, the top-heavy Avatar stretches the worth of its visuals like silly putty frosting atop a narrative rendered with muted fervor and transparent emotions. Always a technocrat, the thrum of Cameron's modern classics stems primarily from a constant surge of suggested spontaneity; to its incalculable detriment, nary a moment goes by in Avatar that doesn't feel as though it's been overly thought out at the conceptual stage only to be all but processed to death on screen. In hindsight, the title seemingly refers less to a central plot element than it does the thought that the film itself is just an empty suit awaiting occupancy and a pulse.

This sci-fi epic would be a masterpiece if judged solely on its technical merits; on their strength alone, one can imagine a tweaked silent-film version being infinitely superior to the one now playing in theaters with no less than Roger Ebert warning the masses, "Good luck getting a ticket before February." Surely, Avatar will go down as yet another Cameronian landmark in the evolution of cinematic wizardry, yet no amount of razzle-dazzle can begin to compensate for a dusty storyline plagued by both a cumbersome screenplay that could well have been written in less time than it takes to watch the film itself (imagine Pocahontas, or rather, The New World, filtered through a sci-fi lens and simplified to its good guy/bad guy essentials) as well as an overly polished form of acting that never expresses emotion and feeling even half as much as it merely dictates plot details and spelled-out character motivations via streamlined sound bytes. That Cameron has worked successfully in such broad strokes before is not to his advantage here. Unlike the larger-than-life vividness of his Terminator films or the earnest, knowingly cheesy cliches of Titanic, what the genuinely humorless (Cameron's one-liners and sight gags have never felt so strained) Avatar most sorely lacks is a personal touch.

The world created for Avatar – the exotic alien planet of Pandora, where, a century and a half into the future, humans from a resource-deprived Earth hope to extract valuable minerals for profit at the expense of the computer generated locals (enter broad allegories to everything from Native American genocide to the current Iraq War) – is a CG wonder to behold, and as such is the film's bread and butter. Even The Lord of the Rings' Gollum can't touch the level of physical detail instilled into the digitally-rendered Na'vi (the indigenous Pandora inhabitants), who transcend previously expected special effect barriers, convincing even these most scrutinous eyes that what is on display is true flesh and blood. With the sincere hope of better enjoying this project in the potentially more story-friendly context of a 2D, non-IMAX exhibition, I plan on seeing it again, if only to better absorb the detail work that sparkles in every frame. Such minor touches – the way the ground-level vegetation lights up as it is walked on, like the sidewalks in Michael Jackson's Billie Jean video, or the rush of the wind as the Na'vi ride dragon-like creatures down the side of a cliff face - are among the fleeting, genuinely feeling joys to be found herein. Alas, barring such a second-viewing turnaround, Avatar represents the maiden wreck in the eyes of this otherwise unabashed Cameron devotee. The ideal viewing experience may very well 3D, but where it matters most, the overwrought Avatar proves regrettably flat.

153 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:42 PM

    Why is it some people (like you) don't get it? Going to the movies is about immersing yourself in the film. The same people that slammed Forrest Gump as "not believable" ...they just can't go along for the ride without becoming haughty idiots pretending they could do it better?

    Your "review" is laughable and I'm betting you made your mind up before seeing the film. It will also become a mere tick on the leg of something so big and beautiful it not only is ignored, it can't be felt.

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  2. Anonymous10:46 PM

    You huff and puff and knock this revolutionary, incredible movie... yet you plan on seeing it again. Pathetic.

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  3. I have yet to see this. I will probably go on Monday or Tuesday, after a preliminary screening of Aliens . . . you know . . . to ruin any chance I have of liking Avatar ever in comparison.
    What entertains me most, is that the special mineral is called "unobtanium." You know . . . because it's difficult to obtain. Clever Jimmy Cams . . . clever . . .

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  4. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Wow it must be terrible not to be able to enjoy one of the best movies in a long time.

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  5. Anonymous11:10 PM

    very, very well said. i can't help but think that people are forgetting why Cameron became a star in the first place: amazing technology in support of a great story, not amazing technology to hide a horrible one. nice review.

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  6. Anonymous11:34 PM

    what a pretentious load.

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  7. Matthew12:00 AM

    Very well done. As another unabashed Cameron fan, I was quite distressed at how poor the plot was, an aspect at which, in his other movies, he has excelled.

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  8. Anonymous12:33 AM

    You are a sad little man. Just watched the film; it has more "pulse" than anything that has been peddled this year, including Pixars 'UP'. I'm literally still shivering from the ripples it has left. Did you even watch the film?

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  9. Anonymous1:54 AM

    Sorry, you are an idiot. Avatar is one of the best movies I have seen this year. The story was excellent, the film was both moving and entertaining.

    Only those who can't understand the movie would dislike it.

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  10. Seamus2:08 AM

    Well actually, 90% of the people would say your a moron. You say it has a bad storyline, when usually no movies have a storyline.

    Seriously if anyone says this movie is rotten on rotten tomatoes, then you should not review movies.
    None of your reviews are good and they all are the same. You say the story line is weak, but it is actually great. I usually come out of movies just sitting there wondering where the character development was. This movie I came out happy and feeling great.

    The only part I complained about is the action (not the action itself but how it played out) Sort of cliche, but the movie is another masterpiece in both Cinematic value and story value.

    Final thoughts, your a moron.

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  11. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Clearly you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about as it is truly a spectacular way of getting an audience to get so involved in a movie to root for an "alien" population. Graphics alone cannot perform this task.

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  12. Mikeoley2:55 AM

    This review is laughable. You sound like a person that just loves to hear yourself talk huh? Am I pretty close with that assessment. If you made a movie as dense the review I just read I would shoot myself in the face.

    How's that for a comment? Makes as much sense as your review did.

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  13. Anonymous4:16 AM

    I thought this was one of the best movies I've ever seen. Sure, the story was predictable, but I still can't get my mind out of the world Cameron created for our viewing pleasure.

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  14. "Always a technocrat, the thrum of Cameron's modern classics stems primarily from a constant surge of suggested spontaneity; to its incalculable detriment, nary a moment goes by in Avatar that doesn't feel as though it's been overly thought out at the conceptual stage only to be all but processed to death on screen."

    A fair contention, but I think you're missing the forest for the trees. Go see it again and try and gauge the audience's reaction.

    What sealed the deal for me when deciding whether or not this was a great film was how successfully it turned the tables on Zulu. Rather than see it as one more step in the Cameron cannon, you should try and see this film within the context of the 2010 zeitgeist. I live in a pretty conservative state, and the idea that a theater full of people would be left either silent with uneasiness or visibly touched by the metaphorical power of this film is a testament to its power.

    Not saying it's going to change the outcome of Copenhagen, but I wouldn't be surprised if historians come to see this year (and Avatar as its, well...Avatar) as the year that internationalist Christian collectivism triumphed.

    2012? Pff. 2010.

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  15. Anonymous5:19 AM

    Our family group of 15, 10 adults and 5 kids 11 years and up, all loved it. Of my numerous online contacts 90% of them loved it and the rest at least liked it enough to recommend it. And, of course, RottenTomatoes has it at 83%.

    All this begs the question: who rousted you out of bed early the day you wrote this tome?

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  16. Just came back from a 3D viewing.
    Also, have just perused a few reviews. I must say, yes, the storyline is corny, buy hey, it's really a fantasy story, not really sci-fi. What's really true is that it's the first step into the next phase of theater-going. When you are mesmerized for 2 and a half hours by this great, colorful technology, the 52 inch screen and 5.1 surround sound you have at home just ain't gonna cut it.

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  17. Anonymous7:03 AM

    I guess if you try and use really big words in your review, you think people will accept you are an expert. But what you had to say about plot, acting and emotional effect doesn't wash with almost everyone who has actually seen the movie. You come across as a critic who merely has a good vocabulary, but not great intincts about what people want to see on the screen or the quality of a piece of work.

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  18. A very in-depth and (for those who aren't intimidated by minority opinions) valuable piece on Avatar by Jim Emerson, who's far less forgiving than I. Guess he should hang up his coat, too?

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  19. The sheer amount of punctuation failures on this comment thread is unbelievable. Funny how the writer who "cannot understand" the film is one of the few commentators here with the intelligence to apply some kind of sentence structure. The only thing more pathetic than the vitriolic flocking to this blog by you people is the idea that a fair amount of you may be (christ..) adults.

    I dug your take on the film Rob. Hopefully I'll be able to talk anywhere near as coherently about Avatar when I see it for myself.

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  20. I just read some of these comments, and I feel for you. It's a lonely road the critic walks at times . . . let alone the critic with the minority opinion. Think anyone here would grasp Citizen Kane? What's really insulting are the accusations that you haven't seen it. Really?

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  21. Anonymous10:44 AM

    His review is even worse than yours. Calling Avatar unimaginative? I'm sorry... but really?! Sounds to me like he's just a pretentious prick that can't get over his self-proclaimed genius. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been as immersed into a world as much as I was in Avatar... and to say that it's not creative and that you could do better is just a big joke.

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  22. Anonymous10:48 AM

    "valuable piece on Avatar by Jim Emerson, who's far less forgiving than I. Guess he should hang up his coat, too?"

    Everyone has the movies and stories that affect them emotionally or intellectualoly. For the most part, I can appreciate many of Emerson's choices of films and can see how his intellectually oriented instincts has colored his review of Avatar. Really, finding the emotionally empty Kubrick film, 2001, as a comparison to this fantasy fable?

    We all bring our own baggage and tastes to films. Someone else's cynical assessment has nothing to do with anothers emotional journey.

    To say that someone who is ruled by their head is more correct than someone who goes by their heart is utter rubbish.

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  23. Anonymous11:57 AM

    good review. i agree with almost every point. great cgi doesn't cover and embarrassingly bad story. this film is a theme ride. fun while it lasts (maybe) but I'm guessing it will be soon forgotten.

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  24. Great review.

    Technically, it was BEAUTIFUL.
    The first half of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed.
    The second half...not so much. All the newness fell into old categories.

    But yes, truly an amazing visual delight. If you're smart and an avid reader, you'll be disappointed with the dialogue and lack of story innovation.
    All the other dumb people just jump on the band wagon and regurgitate what most reviewers are saying: Masterpiece! As for the visual, it is a masterpiece. As for a cinematic movie, I'd have to say quite good, but far from a masterpiece. The Abyss and Terminator 2 were much more enjoyable and masterpieces that have become classics.
    Will avatar be a classic? LOL. Not at all. Instead, it will be in historical movie-making books discussing how the industry changed and how avatar pushed us in that direction. A classic masterpiece? 100% no. Enjoyable and worth the 3d imax experience? Yes indeed.

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  25. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Cheeze and crackers... yes I said cheese and crackers)This guy clearly did not see the movie I saw. It is absolutely one of the best movies and best stories out there in the last several years. Reading this review was like driving by a car accident. You can't help but look, but you feel bad for the people's lives have just been made a little bit worse.
    Go see the movie in 3D - you will have no regrets - even with the added cost.

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  26. Also, many of you who criticize: The problem is the hype and braggadocio that has gone along with the marketing of Avatar. James Cameron has built this thing up, and consequently, many of us were impressed by the 3d but depressed by the story. It was Great. It could have been unbelievable.
    No need to call the reviewer ignorant.
    Did you make the movie for 4 years? Why are you so offended. lol. You people amuse me.

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  27. Anonymous12:38 PM

    I totally agree that you are a moron. I hope you never get the chance to make a movie because I guarantee that if it plays off on any of the reviews you have given then if would be an international flop while at the same time bankrupting the studio associated with it. Please quit your day job!

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  28. fatdoglimping2:00 PM

    excellent review. while visually dazzling, the message cameron was so strenuously trying to convey was shallow, stereotyped and cartoonish. left my eyes wide but my head and heart empty.

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  29. Anonymous2:24 PM

    People who troll movie reviewers who insult their religion (usually for movies you haven't even seen yet) are amongst the lowest form of scum on the internet.

    What sort of world do you want to live in? One in which no one is allowed to have individual opinions or break from the so called "conventional wisdom"? You little trolls are blind automatons. You make me sick. Learn to accept that not everyone needs to agree with you. One day if you ever leave your parents basements you might find out it happens all the time in the real world.

    Good review BTW.

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  30. Anonymous3:01 PM

    I do not see how the movie "stretches" its worth. For the money I spent on the film I felt like I was in a 2 hour ride at disney and I still cant get most of the images out of my head.

    You say the movie is like others in the past... Um, can you tell me more than 10 movies this decade that are NOT like other movies in the past? Most movies share the same idea in some way shape or form. They all pretty much have the same story line. The reason why this movie is so great is because it takes an that kind of has been represented in the past and gives us a fresh look at it. Pocahontas & 'the new world' would not and could not leave any sort of the same impression on some one (IMO) that this movie could. This movie forced you to understand the connection between the native people and there 'Gaia', none of the other movies you mentioned came close. They also did not represent a connection with the animal or plant life species. You bring the similarities as reasons not to like the movie but you fail in pointing out any of the uniqueness of this movie.
    In this movie, you are fully immersed in the scene and everything that is going on.

    And what is wrong with 'broad allegories'... The point is people still do not get 'it' entirely, what we did in the past and how in many ways big companies are committing these crimes right here and now (in south america & africa to name afew).

    Your review simply does not hold up, but it is your opinion. The majority of the people will see the move as it is. Unfortunately for you though I think you have spent to much time 'critiquing' and not enough time being a human to understand why & how this movie has touched most who have seen it.

    This movie is great because people who leave the theatre leave it with a great message in tow. Have you figured out that message? probably not. You more than likely spent to much time critiquing the movie to actually enjoy it and that alone is sad because it was very enjoyable.

    Well thats my rant! have a good day!

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  31. I just can't believe you call yourself a critic. It's easy to write negative critic, isn't it? Easy to write and read. Tell me, when did you decide to write a negative review - after you saw the movie or BEFORE?

    Yes, the story isn't much to look at. It's basically a sci-fi version of Dances with Wolves, a movie you didn't mention when comparing Avatar with other movies, which hints at weak movie culture. However, the characters are just tools, with which Cameron tells his own anti-war green tale, one that isn't half as bad as you make it out to be.

    What's more, it's not the story that makes the movie worth watching, it's Pandora itself and I am not talking just about the visuals. The amazing attention to detail makes it a fully fleshed-out world, one in which you can lose yourself. I can only marvel at Pandora's deadly beauty, at all those creatures that dwell in the jungles. And when I got out of the movie theater, even though I spent 3 hours in there, I felt, well, good.

    But go bash the movie, be my guest. The world is full with incompetent critics, who don't really have what it takes to analyze a movie and instead try using long words to hide their ignorance. Who have an ego twice their size and pretend to be something more than they actually are.

    And if we are going to cry out names - Roger Ebert, Michael Phillips, Colin Covert, Peter Travers, Todd McCarthy and many other critics gave this movie a thumbs up. Maybe they saw in it something you can't or don't want to? Or maybe they can't even reach your level of greatness? Of course there are other negative reviews, however many of those actually have a solid argumentation, unlike yours. But what could I expect from someone who reviews that pile of **** Transformers 2 a second time, trying for some reason to defend it and giving Up a rotten score.

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  32. Anonymous3:13 PM

    it is a movie about the defeat of humans. the moral of the story is that humans should have lived like the 10 foot blue people, meaning pre-agricultural hunter and gatherers. So, we have to go from 6 billion down to 6 million on the planet, where naturally one of the leaders will be James Cameron. Kind of a Dr. Strangelove for environmentalism

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  33. Anonymous3:28 PM

    If you already have viewed a movie, enjoyed it, and want to discuss, why bother coming to a review about it that you'll disagree with and inevitably begin insulting the reviewer over.. As unimaginable (unforgivable?)as it may be, some Avatar-viewers will leave the theater not liking it. Shocking that not everyone likes the same crap you do, isn't it?

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  34. I disagree with your opinion.But I understand. Although I tend to find the storyline very conventional, I cannot shake off the feeling of amazement and awe that seized after seeing the movie. There is greatness here, genious I would say. And it does not matter to me where it comes from.

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  35. Ga James4:35 PM

    Well put sir.

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  36. This Guy nails it. A great review and unafraid. This eye candy is what it appears to be, EYE CANDY. You are not struck by the emotion, the characters,just the effects and scenery. So a 2 hour and 40 minute deep sea dive placed upon another world, with 6 legged horses and flying dragons. But god forbid anyone actually speak the truth when the lemming have decided.

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  37. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Honestly dude you need to find a new job, it is clear you have no clue a good film when one is made. Were you drinking while writing this review.

    The masses enjoyed it and you canned it, maybe you should consider a job change cause your taste in films is horrible.

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  38. Anonymous4:44 PM

    Couldn't have said it better myself. I watched the movie last night (2D), and I wanted so much for this to be the end-all greatest masterpiece of Cameron's works. Obviously it is a technical marvel, but like you said, that alone can't make a movie. It's not as great as everyone says it is, but it is still worth watching for the visuals alone. The way the story progressed on the other hand, was so cliche and shallow that at some point my friend just started laughing aloud in the theater in a state of shock. Or as he put it, "...in complete disbelief I wasted 3 hours of my life on this". That sums up the overall feeling that the movie left unfortunately, a stronger emotion then the movie's story itself ever achieved.

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  39. Anonymous5:06 PM

    This movie is pretty much nothing we haven't seen before. Plot was written for children who I assume will enjoy it's simplicity. Effects are great but nothing "groundbreaking" or original. As I expected, a generic film for generic people.

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  40. Anonymous5:12 PM

    "for those who aren't intimidated by minority opinions" Really? Because anyone who disagrees with your "piece" simply MUST be scared sh**less by original thought. That's so absurdly pompous it's tragic.

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  41. Johhnnny5:17 PM

    I didn't see anything innovative in the movie. Its just good, expensive 3D packed in a hollow plot.

    If someone want to see a more quality movie on this same subject please see Princess Mononoke.

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  42. Anonymous5:46 PM

    It's rather amusing how many commenters consider the reviewer pretentious and sad because he found the characters flat and the plot cliche. Most filmgoers who see films to have a good time and overlook the flaws for the sake of fun forget that critics have to watch countless films as their vocations, and when one watches countless identical plots the wonder fades.

    For some people the technical wizardry is enough for a film to be breathtakingly amazing, and for some an original story and memorable characters trump everything else. Neither type of person is necessarily pretentious. The tendency among people to insult those who dislike things they do is much more pathetic than a negative review.

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  43. You dare ask how dare I ask how dare you?

    How dare you.

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  44. Anonymous6:25 PM

    This movie review is dead on the money and 100% fact for anyone that sees movies as entertainment.

    For those that have a much narrower, constricted view and are overly impressed with simple computer graphics or special effects this review is a scary wake up call to what movies are suppose to be...a Complete Package of story telling with video and audio.

    This movie is just video and audio with a childlike simplistic story as seen in movie after movie after movie after book after book after book. They forgot to do anything with the screenplay and are now paying for it with this dreadful mess. I congratulate the reviewer for stating the truth knowing that every simpleton will arrogantly try to say nothing is something.

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  45. Almost everything this reviewer said about the movie is absolutely true. I came out of the movie with insane perma-grin... but even I couldn't get past the fact that I spent 3 hours listening to marine talk "Hoo-rah". It really was a very good movie, but it's not a problem for this reviewer to to not think that all of the money spent on this film to not pay a writer help inject some heart into the dialog is kind of a travesty.

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  46. Anonymous6:36 PM

    This review is for nothing but to receive hits and attention by going against the popular opinion. This guy doesn't believe what he writes, he's just trying to get some volume to his otherwise unheard voice.

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  47. Mr. Humanick:

    Your name is a dichtomy in terms.

    This is a movie that connects with the audience, connects with the Gaian concept of earth.

    Sadly, there are are some so disconnected from the earth, from emotion within themselves, that they write reviews sounding like a dry. brittle twig.

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  48. @ Anonymous 3:36: Trust me, no amount of increased traffic is worth listening to your dumb ass.

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  49. I read your review and I kept thinking how sad it must be to be so unmoved. Some people feel their lives others don't. They are like brick walls and then they die...never really feeling their lives. Stop trying to impress yourself with that load and open your emotions to the world around you before its too late.

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  50. Anonymous7:04 PM

    This is good studies. We have left-brained folks who argue weak narrative and the right-brained who wonder why on earth the lefties aren't moved by the sweeping synergy of the movie. The film plays like a dynamic Rorschach test onto which people project their individual biases. For the record, I loved the movie. I have pity for those who let their critical minds destroy the exquisite luxury of beholding the wondrous.

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  51. Anonymous7:17 PM

    I'd have to agree with this review. While I enjoyed the film thoroughly, I think that the storytelling was awful.

    My gripe isn't that the story was necessarily bad, as most movies are a rehashing of one another, but the way Cameron told it was just lazy. Cameron failed to give any real backstory to any of the characters which made them fall flat. None of the characters really grow or change. You can argue that Jake did but he was never really an asshole to begin with. The voice over was laughable at times. I felt like I was listening to a play by play from John Madden, stating something I obviously just watched on screen.

    Imagine if Avatar wasn't shot on 3-D and didn't have the latest tech supporting it. Would it have been half as good. Probably not. It's not a coincidence that the first thing reviewers are praising is the tech.

    In regards to whoever said, "Only those who can't understand the movie would dislike it."

    I think that was the main drawback to the film. The movie was so shallow there was nothing to really understand. This was pure popcorn cinema.

    And don't try to rebuttal with any superficial depth such as nods to the Bush administration and Iraq. You're not that smart. We all saw that.

    And to all the haters. Go actually read the good reviews on rotten tomatoes. Most of them point out the fact that the storytelling sucked.

    You Cameron farboys just have to realize that just because one says the story was bad doesn't mean that the film wasn't good. I personally enjoyed watching the movie. Great action and astounding visuals. The movie completely immerses into the world of Pandora and I think that's what most movie goers want, to leave reality, at least for a little while.

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  52. cbeck7:24 PM

    After reading your review, I can say only this: I hope the bloated, manufactured, and unearned pageviews you receive from your lackadaisical (layman's term: shitty) review are worth the loss in credibility you may or may not have had as a journalist.

    In short, you suck at what you do.

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  53. @Anonymous 2:12PM: "for those who aren't intimidated by minority opinions" Really? Because anyone who disagrees with your "piece" simply MUST be scared sh**less by original thought. That's so absurdly pompous it's tragic.

    1) You said scared shitless, not me. That's revealing. 2) Whether you like it or not, it is a "piece", meant to reflect on immediate feelings after a screening. I'll be following it up later with second-viewing notes. 3) Given the hateful attitude most of these posters exude, you'd think I'd punted a baby on national television, or was named Armond White. My review essentially states that I was disappointed and hoped a second viewing would allow me to like the film more. Either these people with nothing better to spend their time on are so insecure with their own thoughts as to unleash such fury on a contrarian view, or they have major anger issues to begin with. You tell me.

    4:41 PM

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  54. Anonymous9:02 PM

    Couldn't agree more with this review.

    Sub-moronic, predictable 'story telling' dressed up in a My Little Pony colour scheme.

    Admittedly, I'm not in the intended demographic (being a mature, intelligent adult) but I was bitterly disappointed.

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  55. Anonymous9:12 PM

    You my friend are an idiot. Avatar was not just GROUNDBREAKING, but possessing of a plot riddled with emotion. The story was immensely riveting and took you to a place so real the hair stands on the back of your neck.You must be doing this just to bash great movies.James Cameron does it once again.

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  56. Anonymous9:40 PM

    to all the people who thought the story was "riveting" and so emotional.

    what were the names of all the major characters?

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  57. Anonymous10:37 PM

    Omg how dare you how dare me after I how dared you. Oh the shame!

    Ok granted this movie brings nothing special in the story department but neither does my motorcycle when I ride it. It's just great fun, a treat to the senses, and that is what this movie is.

    Just make sure to see it in 3d!

    How dare you!

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  58. Anonymous11:42 PM

    Those who can (James Cameron) do.
    Those who cannot (Rob Humanick) criticize what they themselves will never achieve.

    As pointed out in other comments, an evening at a movie is an escape.

    Go to the theatre, buy a ticket to this great movie and escape for an evening.

    Warning, you will want to see it again.

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  59. @Andulias: Before.

    As far as Dances with Wolves is concerned, sure, I could have named that movie as well, but aside from the fact that long lists of comparative examples tend to be both redundant and pointless, your purportedly absent, "indicative-of-poor-film-culture" Kevin Costner twaddle is actually a piece of Oscar-baiting junk. Is The Usual Suspects one of your holy grails too? That's another piece of flaming shit in my book, so please, light the fires in your insipid attempt to get under my skin. Bite me, tick.

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  60. Tim Zimmerman12:46 AM

    I have absolutely no patience to read through all of these comments, but I believe I've seen about as much of the complaints necessary to consider myself informed on the minority opinion of this movie.

    Ever since blogging has become a big part of today's media, talking rectums have had a more projected voice than they should ever have. That thesis can be applied to any blogger; from political to religious. In my opinion, though, none are worse than the pretentious wannabes that review movies.

    When one blockbuster movie releases, full of hype and a vast majority of positive response, you'll have a dozen that want to whine about the most trivial things. Why? Because in an environment where the majority goes one way, those looking for attention need only go the other direction. That basically sums up this entire review and those in acceptance with it.

    Nitpick all you want, but you will never enjoy a movie if you make up your mind before you see it. The people who were blown away by this movie, myself included, allowed Cameron to take us on this journey of his and loved every minute of it. The visuals, the story, and the characters all created a perfectly integrated environment that was both highly entertaining and extremely immersive. I left the theater wondering if it would even be possible for someone to give this film a negative review. The farfetched arguments of a few never cease to surprise me.

    Continue to go to the theater with a pen and legal pad in preparation to tear apart any film you see just to stand out in the crowd. I hear it's real edgy and defining of your attention-whoring character.

    That goes to all the rest of the pretentious bastards that have come out of the woodwork to comment on this review. One has to wonder how boring your life is. I'd feel bad for you, but I have no remorse for people who are in a boring hell of their own creation.

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  61. Anonymous1:03 AM

    I agree with the reviewer 100%, I just got home from seeing the film and although the effects were amazing and the scenes were gorgeous, I ended up not even caring about the characters and no chemistry between the two love interests.. where's the heart Cameron? You've had plenty of time to add some..

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  62. Anonymous1:11 AM

    I'd agree going to the movies is about immersing yourself in the film, but if the film stumbles so badly it takes you out of it, it's not the fault of the viewer. Avatar was amazing to look at, but the dialog and bad guys motivations were so corny that it kept pulling me out of the fun of the world the movie created, even though I didn't want to be. It wasn't just me either, the entire theater burst out in laughter almost every time the evil Col. spoke for the second half of the movie...

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  63. Anonymous1:14 AM

    There's nothing pathetic about seeing a movie twice because you're trying to see what others loved so much about it. You've never watched a movie when you were in the wrong mood, and disliked it, only to enjoy in on another viewing?
    I think that calling people names because they didn't enjoy the same movie as you is far more pathetic than seeing a film twice to try and understand what all the hubub is about, especially a movie as hyped and visually interesting as Avatar is.

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  64. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Sir, You might just be the dumbest man on the planet. This movie will no doubt go down as one of the greatest movie of all time. To even suggest that such a great movie was in fact BELOW average...come on!$%@! are you kidding me? Get off your high horse and learn to appreciate movies like the masses do. When I watched this film it got a standing ovation. That rarely happens and it happened b/c it was one of the greatest movies of all time (as 83% of critics on the rottentomatoes website agree).

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  65. Spot-on review...it's good to know there are still some people out there who appreciate story. It is refreshing to see someone who can distinguish between a $25 bowl of pasta and Pizza Hut pasta. A glossy finish only covers up minor scratches, not gaping gashes.

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  66. Anonymous1:55 AM

    LOL, looking at some of these comments I can see why they're negative. They CGI effects and they are amazed - forget the cheesy storyline, the poor dialog and as said the poor acting.

    Of course going to the movies is about immersing yourself - but while some people have superficial and easy to satisfy (with enough CGI and special fx) requirements, others want more or rather a balance. Cameron is a CGI director, he is no Kubrick, he is a kid film director. This film is great for CGI, and as the tech evolves - next year we'll see something better and even better the following year - because technology always advances - however films acted well stay timeless. That's what some people need to understand. Enjoy the CGI and explosions, kids.

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  67. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Fart!

    Oh wait, that was almost as effective as your review. May you never receive free screeners or previews again!

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  68. Anonymous2:08 AM

    Ah-Mazing

    to the guy with the question on the main characters names: why does this matter? i was honestly so immersed in the story i somehow forgot Jakesully's mates name! it made no difference to me. i fell in love with her and Jakesuly. At the end of the movie i didnt want it to be over!

    in a failing movie industry hits like this cant be appreciated enough. gj Cameron.


    Tom: what a prick. you like my punctuation? u and the guy that wrote this review are the kind of ppl that love to criticize the majority for the fight. i cant understand you and i never will... i bet you drive a 4x4 with a rebel flag in the back. pretentious cock.

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  69. spot-on review. The people who liked Avatar solely on visual grounds are probably the kind of people who be found in those stupid Pizza Hut commercials where they go to a restaurant and replace their $25 pasta with Pizza Hut's shit. "Fettucini alfredo is the same as mac & cheese right? so for $25 they put a tiny vegetable on the side of my plate and make it look fancy right?" lmao. glossy finishes only cover up minor scratches, not gaping gashes.

    good to know that some people still appreciate story in a film. The Halo video games would have made a more intriguing movie with those same graphics.

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  70. Marty2:12 AM

    At issue here is the fact that once you look beyond the 3D effects that characters are incredibly thin, two-dimensional messes of writing. The tone and cadence of the dialogue are good, but the sentences themselves are awful. This movie is buried in cliche and lazy, ham-fisted writing.

    If you want an example of this kind of movie done right go rent Princess Mononoke. It puts Cameron's latest offering to shame without trying to distract you with technology.

    That's how you can see the difference in quality in terms of STORYTELLING.

    Take away the up-gunned effects and sci-fi trappings and you've got some sort of misbegotten off-spring of Dances With Wolves and Fern Gully.

    That's not to say that the effects and cinematography weren't awesome. I'm just saying they don't justify denying the glaring deficiencies in the overall product. The story and writing were tired and trite.

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  71. Anonymous2:29 AM

    My teenage daughter used to sniff at how mainstream music was just so awful, and that people who don't understand indie music were sheep. This edgy review reminds me of her.

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  72. Anonymous3:50 AM

    Pathetic? What's pathetic are all the defensive comments. Avatar is an amazing spectacle. What frustrates both him and I, is that such a beautiful film that took 13 years in development would contain such bad dialogue and undeveloped supporting roles. I agree with this guy but I can't help but love the film. It's not often we see something like this at the theater. Forgive us for wishing the screenplay/scriptwriting was on par with the visuals. Story is KING. period. I am sad that it wasn't as good as it should've been, and for 13 years with over a quarte million budget... it should have been.

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  73. I am a huge James Cameron fan.I just came out of AVATAR in 3D and i must say that i left the theatre a bit dissapointed for the same reason as this reviewer mentions.I recommend this movie to everyone since it is a great spectacle, but unfortunately the movie follows a very cliched path in terms of story.This was not the James Cameron movie that i expected.

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  74. Anonymous5:20 AM

    Oh, how the self proclaimed critic spews his opinion ad nauseum!

    I just left the theatre amazed because Avatar was an incredible movie going experience on so many levels. The story may not have been award winning in terms of script or dialogue but who the hell cares (only unknown movie critics)? I believe you used the term “broad strokes” and yes it appealed to a broad audience (that is why the film will be a success, unlike your website). This is nothing but a shallow attempt to gain web traffic by bashing weaker elements of an incredible film. You dear sir are quite transparent but not as transparent as the lousy CGI in Surrogates, a film you rated fresh while Avatar gets a rotten? That says it all. I guess desperate critics call for desperate measures.

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  75. Anonymous5:29 AM

    I would like to call you a pretentious moron and leave it at that like the rest of these people who obviously enjoyed the film. But let me leave you with this since your biggest critique is that the storyline was week.

    I am the product of the clash of two cultures...two worlds, if you will. My entire ethnicity and nationality is based upon the meeting of the European with the Native American. My last name can be no more European than it is. My ancestors were some of the first ones here. Before the Mayflower. Before the Virginia Colony. Yet if you look at me, it is obvious my bloodlines go back to those who crossed the Bering Strait.

    I saw this film as a decendant of a people who suffered the atrocities depicted in this film. A culture who had it's "Hometree" destroyed. Tragically, there was no hero who emerged to help them keep their lands against the "rain that would not end."

    And that made me sad...even hundreds of years later. But you probably never thought of that, because you have no clue.

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  76. Was prepared to be dazzled by the visuals but came out disappointed - some effective depth of field shots, but it seemed like an improvement rather than a game changer from any of the recent 3d movies like Coraline.

    The motion-capture was a bit more subtle maybe, but the aliens still looked CG. Some (like Roger Ebert) have argued its conquered the Uncanny Valley but that seems fundamentally misguided: the Valley refers to human CG characters that look odd, since we're so attuned to seeing real humans - the Navi are humanoid aliens, so were never going to face an uncanny valley problem in the first place, any more than Jarjar Binks.

    The story itself like you mentioned was very ordinary.

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  77. Anonymous6:27 AM

    The storyline was predictable, if it was written into a novel it wouldn't even be considered for the Pulitzer. I however, like most people, don't go to movies to be intellectually stimulated. If you do, than open a book it'll blow your mind. I go to movies to be entertained. Avatar fulfilled that role. It'll go down in history as a sci-fi masterpiece. Pure and simple. Is it another Citizen Kane, a Troy, or an Apollo 13? No, but it was never intended to be. Enjoy it for what it is, not for what you think it should be.

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  78. @Tim Zimmerman: Talking rectums is possibly the best single phrase I've heard yet in this thread. Too bad you ended up being one of them.

    You say this term applies most strongly to those who review movies, yet then focus exclusively on those who hold minority opinions (in this case, about 20% of the crowd, a pretty substantial minority).

    Excuse me, "whine about the most trivial things?" Like most mainstream films, Avatar is driven by narrative, and that's what left me cold. I don't take notes at the movies - my reviews are based off of a cumulative emotional response, and watching this movie was like sitting in a beautiful car with no engine (the story didn't envelop me, and in fact, I found large portions of it lame - yeah, that's farfetched).

    Show me the part of the review where I say that anyone who doesn't share the exact specifications of my experience is in the wrong (hint: it isn't there).

    That you (and several others) assert that I "made my mind up" before seeing the film isn't only unmerited - it's asinine. A brief perusal of the films I've championed will reveal titles both mainstream and indie, box-office successes and bombs. Ditto the ones that suck. You've no support for this notion of pre-formulated opinion making save for your own juvenile...pre-formulated opinion-making. That you "couldn't even imagine" someone writing a negative review is indicative of your narrow perspective and mental malnutrition. Grow up, Cartman.

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  79. That's enough of the madhouse. From here on, all comments from those confined to the eternal blocks of high school mentality will not be published (readers who want to partake in genuine conversation shouldn't have to dig through all this crap). To the hateful Avatar zealots, I quote: you are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.

    Farewell.

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  80. @Anonymous 10:35: 83% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the movie a "fresh" rating, not voted for it as one of the greatest of all time. Your foolishness is self-evident.

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  81. I just want to say that this is more than a little bit ridiculous (the comments, not the review). I agree with most of what you said (in fact I have my own review of the movie here, if it's not too much of a plug), but the real shock is how incredibly incensed the fanboy community can get over what is just a movie. As you said yourself, you didn't punt a baby on national television.

    The same thing happened with The Dark Knight last year and arguably Watchmen early this year (and - as you alluded - to Armond White over District 9). It's a supreme irony that the internet - touted as being an advancement which makes intelligent discussion and discourse across international boundaries - has served to lower the tone of that discussion so much. It would appear that mob (and their flaming pitchforks) have found the benefits of interconnectivity as well. So you and I don't like this film, why does it matter? I'm sure that we disagree on othe films as well - but can't we respect that?

    Stuff like this makes me hang my head in shame and afraid to mention to colleagues that I discuss film on-line. I'd remark that I wished people could get this engaged with local communities (or in tackling poverty or environmental concerns, for example), but only if it could be dialled down a notch.

    Keep up the good work.

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  82. @m0vie: Thanks, and plug away! I'd be happy to read any sane person's take on the film, and hey, I still wish I could share in Ebert or Berardinelli's enthusiasm. Ditto on the hanging head bit, though it's something that we should probably get over so as to better enjoy ourselves. For a time I was almost embarrassed to call myself a Star Wars fan given the unpleasantness exuded by so great a deal of them, but, at the end of the day, they shouldn't impede on OUR fun just because they don't know where to draw the line with those who don't agree. In short: fuck 'em.

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  83. Steve McClellan8:41 AM

    First I would recommend seeing this movie just for the experience. I was not expecting too much going in due to some reviews I had read and that probably helped. Second, you can not argue with the reviewer on the script. If this movie had some originality in the script and plot it would have been one of the best movies of all time. "Cliche" is an understatement in this movie. Take Indians, paint them blue and put them in outer space. Add Al Gore and spice in corporate America and you have your story. It is too bad that the majority of the public now accepts huge holes in movie scripts and cliches like - bad guy fights good guy for 15 minutes at the end of the movie and trapped friend saves him at the last second. Never seen that before a million times. Or stereotypical army guy who just wants to ignore all rules an kill everyone with no consequence.
    Also, it is funny how people get so angry when someone does not agree with their view of the movie(more comments on this review than any I saw on tomatoes). Everything the reviewer said is right on target.
    We need someone challenging these hollywood morons because the public won't do it. Maybe the next 3D movie will combine a good story, script AND CGI! (Whoops, "Piranha 3D is coming out next!)Just agree and see the movie for what it is -great eye candy and a new movie experience. I will tell people to see it for that reason. It is worth the 11 bucks to me and I am someone who thinks most hollywood made movies are absolute crap and written for idiots to watch.

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  84. I thought this review was spot on. Almost exactly how I felt while watching the movie.

    By the end I felt like my mind was melted by the effects but I wasa bored to death with the new agey na'vi and the extremely broad hippies vs. warmongers story.

    Your dead on with the broad allegories. It did seem like kind of just the shell of a plot...it never went deeper than the very basics.

    On the other hand, I thought the relationship between Neytiri and Jake was very well developed. IT made you feel things for them...way beter than that star wars romance!

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  85. Anonymous10:51 AM

    This movie is not about the story(Which is still decent in itself) its about the world of Pandora. Really are you blind the entire movie was about the culture of the navi, and how they live there lives. Not you nor anyone else could have come up with a planet like Pandora, where things may not seem futuristic, but really are just in a different way. this movie is pure magic and is better than titanic will ever be. It has heart, I felt for the navi, I want to have an avatar, movies rarley do this. In fact i am going to see it again right now.

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  86. I think you've written your Dark Knight, Rob. Congrats! :-)

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  87. I really can't help but feel bad for someone like yourself. Life must be pretty good up on your high horse.

    Get down and enjoy this masterpiece of a movie.

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  88. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Anybody insulting this reviewer is a moron.

    Film is never JUST about the technical considerations. Film is a balance of form and content.

    The future of film is not 3D. The "immersive" experience always existed in the imagination of the viewer. When a film shows too much, and tries to supplant this, it fails.

    "Avatar" tries to hijack your imagination instead of using an engaging story or characters, or even through intellectual and creative formative strategies which have existed since film's inception (editing, diegesis etc.) to envelop the audience in a story. "Avatar" doesn't leave things unseen, so that we may imagine them.

    "Avatar" is a product of a videogame culture; this what gamers would create if they could make a film.

    For truly groundbreaking film, please return to the 1960's and view films by Godard, Truffaut and the rest of the French new wave.

    In conclusion TO THE GREAT UNWASHED INTELLECTUALLY DEFICIENT AVATAR LOVERS: Educate yourself before you embarrass yourself with your lack of film knowledge.

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  89. It's funny how earnest you are, admitting that you made up your mind about the movie BEFORE seeing it. Now, is that a way to actually review something? Is that how a good reviewer works? Hell, why didn't you write the darn thing without actually seeing the movie, it wouldn't have made much of a difference, am I right?

    Dances with Wolves is no holy grail, but calling it a shit is just, well, silly at best and I didn't really understand why you had to bring The Usual Suspects into this discussion.

    Answering aggressively to people who criticize you is childish and ridiculous. "Bite me, tick"? Is that supposed to insult me? And if so, why?

    Like I said, you just don't have the qualities of a critic and it saddens me to see that you actually get paid for that. You are not a critic, just a guy who has a blog linked to RT. Only a certain type of movies appeal to you, while a critic must be able to rate objectively all kinds of movies. What is bad though is that you have such a high opinion of yourself, that you immediately ignore everyone criticizing you and categorize them as "fan boys". And I really don't know why I am actually wasting my time writing this to someone who lives tens of thousands of kilometers away from me and clearly doesn't really listen to what I have to say. Cheers, mate, keep those fancy, but unprofessional reviews coming.

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  90. When will people wake up? This happens every time a mega-budget film is released. Rave reviews, the nay-sayers bashed for not falling into line. Six months later, the people start seeing that the negative reviewers were right. Two years later, the film sits in the sale section of DVD stores and everyone is again realizing that they had been had, while by that time the studios have raked in a few hundred billion. Of course this film sucks. Could there possibly be a connection between a $300 million movie, lots of champagne and all those "great" reviews? These lemming-like "wow it's amazing" - see what you think in a year or so when the marketing-created fog has cleared.

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  91. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Don't listen to anyone who bashes you for this review. I liked the film. I couldn't help but enjoy myself. The film, however, is definitely not worthy of the praise showered down on it. It could be the worst script of the year. (Worse than Transformers? Maybe)
    But the technique and way it it told (not written) makes it an enjoyable film.
    It's not, thankfully, as insulting and annoying as Transformers. That's because Cameron is a good storyteller. With good ideas. Just horrible, cliche ridden stories.

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  92. Anonymous2:03 PM

    I honestly dislike anyone who didn't like this movie. You would have to be such a humorless, demented prick to not get goosebumps from the majority of this movie, including the storyline. Complaining that the storyline in Avatar is cliche is like saying that the storyline of Memento is cliche because I mean, seriously, amnesia? AGAIN? The difference isn't the basics of the story, it's in the details. Sure, I've seen movies about indigenous peoples and a main character seeing the error of his ways before. However I've never seen a movie before where a crippled army grunt jacks into the scientifically grown body of a human/alien hybrid to go into the forest to protect scientists but who falls into the heart of the alien society and learns about the fact that the entire planet's ecosystem is essentially one big computer where thoughts and memories can be downloaded and uploaded via fiber-optic cables in the alien's heads and all culminating in the best battle ever put to film. I just kind of feel bad for people who didn't enjoy this masterpiece.

    Also, great to see an action movie with a left-wing ideology behind it. I have a secret suspicion that the only people who didn't enjoy this movie are conservatives who feel sick to their stomach after realizing that their political beliefs make them the bad guy.

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  93. @Andulias: Sarcasm isn't your strong point, is it? You know very little about what you're trying to argue. Good luck with life.

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  94. Andulias, don't kid yourself. Your criticisms of Rob never had anything to do with "bad critiquing" as any sincere person interprets it. Your basic problem with this review is the fact that it went against your view on a movie that you liked, not that it was pre-planned (a strange accusation given how Rob's already said he'll be revisiting the film to pick up anything - positives included - he might have missed) to have a negative slant (as if zero of the commenters here hadn't already made up their minds on Avatar before seeing it themselves). Your objection is childish, founded on the idea that its suspicious for someone to disagree with you. Hence, the fanboy tag is appropriate - as it is with the majority of the raving loons on here.

    Another thing that confuses me is your statements on Pandora. You say that its appeal is not just about the visuals yet you spent that entire paragraph talking entirely about the visuals. What gives? At least Rob attempted to expand on his thoughts, unlike yourself, you critical genius.

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  95. Anonymous3:26 PM

    I LOVED your review! My husband, every once in a while likes to descend from the thrown on his ivory tower and see one of the latest overblown commercial offerings rendered by hollywood. I have been arguing that I would never waste my time on such a film. If you are that small minded that you have to be blown over by special effects that substitute for any real cinematic substance then I feel sorry for you (this is to most of the responders you've had). Titanic is three hours of my life I will NEVER get back, but I will not make the same mistake twice. Judging from the comments you've received I'm saddened that this will indeed be the future of movies. The technological advances are just enough to uphold the taste of the lowest common denominator.

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  96. Anonymous3:50 PM

    I find it hilarious how reviews giving this film a bad score get 40-50+ comments while reviews giving it praise get...1..maybe 2.
    Someone doesn't like the movie, so what? You don't need to defend it. "HE DIDN'T LOVE AVATAR! *comments angrily*" You all need to get over yourselves. This reviewer has a very solid opinion. I'd like to see it a second time as well because of it's jaw-dropping special effects, but I'm also not a moron that can't see how basic and boring the story is. The reviewer sees that as well. Even Rotten Tomatoes as a whole only gave it an 83% stating the film is beautiful but lacks as a piece of storytelling.

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  97. I've seen Avatar twice so far. The second time after reading reviews such as this one. Yes, the story is predictable, yes there are one liners. But, if it is possible for your feeble mind to do, think a little more deeper. Because of the broadness of the story, it appeals to everybody; man, woman, young and old. The predictability keeps your mind in a progressive movement. There is so much stunning visual stimuli to take in; a twisty, full of surprises story line would take you out of the moment for reflection.

    As a filmmaker, this movie has moved to the top of my list.

    If you bash this movie, what movies do you like? Don't answer that, I'd rather not know.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion. But seriously dude? This review is the rotten tomato.

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  98. Anonymous4:52 PM

    I know it might be rough for some people to get why this particular reviewer might not get the focus of what I thought was honestly a good movie. I am a sci-fi can and if I wanted to could pick this film to bits but it is not intended for the scrutiny of a a 20 year Star Wars (or Star Trek for that matter)

    The reviewer is focused on us (those who reply) to generate buzz negative or positive to increase site traffic.

    Trust me the reviewer is QUITE aware that persons such as myself must comment on this off color review.

    Having said that go see the movie yourself at matinee price and when you love it like I know you will check it out in 3D with friends on the weekend.

    Peace,

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  99. Anonymous5:06 PM

    I'm surprised people are lambasting your review with such fervor! What most of these people are missing is that they've already seen this movie before.

    Depsite some astounding CG, this movie is really just Dances With Wolves crossed with a biological version of The Matrix. Interesting, but ultimately just more of the same.

    I agree with your assessment of this film. Thanks for pointing some positive things out for me that I missed. It was a pretty good film. It just wasn't up to snuff with what Cameron's done in the past.

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  100. Anonymous5:13 PM

    I have read the review and every comment.
    This is the Summary of the Reviews:

    1) Overall movie is awful.
    2) Story is awful.
    3) Character development is awful.
    4) Graphics, though meaningless, are acceptable.

    The End.

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  101. Anonymous5:14 PM

    Avatar was one of the best movies of 2009. Yes, there was a huge emphasis on special effects, but never have I seen a computer render such art! There's a difference between special effects for the sake of eye candy (Star Wars episode III) and special effects meant to immerse the viewer in the film and enhance the story.

    I just don't see how someone can experience a story with characters with fully-fleshed out personalities; lush, breathtaking, and ground-breaking scenery; all masterfully accompanied by a diverse James Horner soundtrack, and still give it a bad review?

    Congratulations, you're getting your site hits for writing a review that criticizes Avatar. It really doesn't mean much though, seeing that there are 90% of us who realized the privilege of witnessing the Cinema Gem in theaters that is Avatar.

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  102. Half these Anonymous comments are transparently the same guy; check out the reused insults, identical tone, identical spelling and punctuation style. Your review must have butt-hurt some obsessive fanboy.

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  103. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Why can't some people enjoy things for what the are?This film was amazing.Visually amazing.Rob loosen up and get over yourself.

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  104. Anonymous5:54 PM

    the reason i brought up the the character names was that many of viewers are arguing against the idea that avatar had weak storytelling and characters. if it truly did have an engaging story and three dimensional characters you would have left the theater remembering their names but. but i would bet a lot of money that more than half the audience cant name me the major players. theres nothing wrong with that. i enjoyed the movie for what it is. fun to look at. anyone who tries to argue differently is an idiot.

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  105. I would bet money that the divide of good reviews to bad reviews hews very closely to the left/right political demographic. Probably the same people that didn't like Avatar were the same ones that were offended by the representation of fat people in Wall-E.

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  106. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Does a movie such as this require a complex plotline? I didn't really want to see a bunch of blue aliens challenging me intellectually. I just wanted to go to Pandora and thanks to James Cameron, I did.

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  107. Anonymous7:25 PM

    I have done a random sampling of your alphabetized movie reviews and it appears you have nothing good to say about anything. Your only talent is for grandiloquent writing and throwing spitballs at storytellers. I cannot believe you actually get paid for your writing.

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  108. @Anonymous 4:25: You must have missed some of the following: Adventureland, Alien: Resurrection, All Quiet on the Western Front, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Art School Confidential, Assault on Precinct 13, Away From Her, Banished, The Bank Job, Berlin Alexanderplatz, The Betrayal, The Birth of a Nation, Black Snake Moan...

    Believe it, baby.

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  109. @Anonymous 3:34: Being intellectually challenged by a movie is not the same thing as not being intellectually insulted by one. Ultimately, though, my gripe with the film is that it didn't engage me emotionally. Had you actually read what I wrote, you'd have known that already.

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  110. @Anonymous 7:51 AM: I've nothing to say in response to your comment. It was simply too funny to not post.

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  111. Thanks, Keith. Except, I haven't gotten any death threats yet. Almost there!

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  112. @cafepress24: I said the same thing to those who panned Speed Racer. Except I wasn't an ass about it. Please explain why you feel bad about how good my life is. I guess you're saying that it sucks to be you.

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  113. Anonymous11:16 PM

    Wow a film critic critiques a movie, obviously this is the most horrible thing that has ever happened in human history. Calm down people. I don't think I've seen anybody here really critique this review- there's just a bunch of OMG U SUK!!!

    I thought it was a very fair and accurate review. The visuals were amazing. As spectacle, this movie was damn near perfect. Beyond that it was shallow, cliche, and utterly predictable. I found the incredibly flimsy attempts at making me care about the characters or the message of the movie in general were so ham fisted that they diminished my enjoyment of shit blowing up real good. If a movie wants to make me think or feel a connection, there needs to be something more there than an incredibly cliche plot about a bunch of noble savages and the white man that shows up to save the day.

    I kind of see Battlestar Galactica as the antithesis to Avatar. Galactica never had the money to create heart pounding eye popping battles like this movie (although for a television show Galactica's visuals were extremely respectable), but it used science fiction to offer a new perspective on the world in which we live. But unlike Avatar, the world of Battlestar Galactica is extremely complex and nuanced, offering no easy answers to the viewer. Sadly few people have given what is easily one of the greatest television dramas of all time a chance- but that's another issue for another time.

    Long story short, if you don't like this dude's review, fine. But try and explain in an intelligent manner why you don't like it instead of just screaming "NO U."

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  114. @Anonymous 11:03 AM: Firs you dislike people who dislike this movie, then you feel bad for them. Make up your mind. Even having relatively enjoyed the final battle of Avatar, I could easily name about ten other action sequences that outpace it...just from Cameron's earlier films alone. The problem isn't that the storyline was cliched (did you not read the part where I express my adoration for TITANIC?), but that the execution was uninspired.

    You call me a conservative: that alone proves that you know jack shit (as a begrudging Democrat [the lesser of two evils], you could call me something between a Marxist and an Anarchist). Among the elements of the film that I did like was the audacity to cast the humans in so villainous a light, even if it did so with shitty screenwriting and terrible performances (seriously, there's no end to how much Ribisi embarrasses himself here).

    And just to let you know: once you talk about your suspicion (especially in the public domain), it ain't a secret anymore.

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  115. @Mandamus: Like the other poster who suggested that Avatar non-fans are offended conservatives, this only highlights how very poorly informed you are when it comes to information readily available with just a few clicks of the mouse. For starters, I think WALL-E is a masterpiece (if my memory serves, I called it "an accomplishment not just for animation, but cinema entire"), and rather dig its depiction of mankind's future (although I think it speaks very strongly about our world right now; many of the posters here are reinforcing that belief). Secondly, my opinion on most conservative ideologies makes my opinion of Avatar look positively golden. Thirdly, many of Avatars big fans - Roger Ebert, James Berardinelli, etc. - are pronounced liberals. Get a clue.

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  116. Anonymous11:29 PM

    don't be bothered by the haters Rob. the most anyone can ask for from a review is that one simply backs up why they felt a certain way about a movie, and i feel you have done that. thats more than you can say about most people who just simply state an opinion and answer why with a just because.

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  117. @Andulias: I didn't plan on responding to you again, but in reading (and fully re-reading) the comments I approved of blindly from earlier, backwards, I found myself formulating a response to one of yours before I realized whose it was. Just to be clear.

    You say answering aggressively to people who criticize you (me) is childish, but wouldn't you say commenting aggressively on someone with a minority opinion is equally so? Not supposed to insult you, FYI. It's more a dare, since I'm all but certain that, even at your worst, I won't feel a thing. I'm not even being aggressive at this point. Don't bother trying me - you couldn't keep up.

    Please tell me, what are the "certain types of movies" that appeal to me? Good ones? Some idiot (yes, I'm making that judgment call) on RT suggested that, should Citizen Kane and/or The Godfather have come out this year, I'd rotten them just to stand out; with just a bit of looking, they'd see that Kane is in my top 10 of all time and Godfather is damn high up as well. Similarly astonishing are your assumptive accusations. So please: what kind of movies? My top two of last year were Wendy and Lucy and Speed Racer - about as stylistically different as one could possibly get between two films, one of which was praised by many critics while the other was a financial bomb and hated by many from all audiences. So really, I'm waiting for your astute pigeonholing of my opinions. Come up with something that wouldn't be accurately described as "dumbass" and I might actually publish it.

    People like you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

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  118. I think it's sad how many personal attacks are in these comments just because you disagree. If you don't agree with something, show why you think it's wrong. So far I have yet to see a solid defense of any of the claims put forth by this reviewer. (Unless "your a moron", is a defense.)

    The movie was stunning and definitely worth seeing in theaters, but it was far from perfect. Three minutes into the 3-hour movie you knew exactly how it was going to go and the dialogue was painfully bad.

    For a team that has so much imagination for visuals, why is there absolutely no imagination for characters?

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  119. Chimes in my long-time cohort Chris with this comment, copied from the Facebook wall of yours truly:

    "By far my favorite one is the one that says "learn to enjoy movies like the masses do." Pardon me while I step in front of a freight train."

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  120. You may notice that I said "very closely", not "entirely". Something I have been noticing lately is that a lot of reviewers seem to project quite a bit of their own psychosis into their interpretations of movies. Quite often seeing things that aren't really there. Not that I'm accusing you of that. just an observation.

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  121. In this case the "ewoks" did not beat the empire. The Na'vi put up a decent fight, but were eventually overcome. Not until the animals intervened were the humans defeated. Perfectly logical in this context.

    The movie was incredible, and I can't wait to see where Cameron takes this story now. Ther are so many possibilities.

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  122. Anonymous3:54 AM

    You're a stupid fucking Douchebag I hope you choke on your own saliva and die, fuck you!

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  123. Anonymous5:39 AM

    You sir have no comprehension of the magic of movies. Sorry to shout but...YES YOU CAN SEE THE STORY COMING A MILE AWAY. And this is still one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen. All epics are re-tellings of classic stories. Yes this is sc-fi pocohantas. But star wars is just the arthur legend in space and all great fantasy is stolen from tolkien. That doesn't mean it isn't awesome! This movie is emotionally engaging, well acted and visually spactacular. This movie will not cange your life! But you will certainly enjoy the near 3 hours you spend watching it and you will definately get your moneys worth.
    In short. Lighten up. This is a very entertaining film.

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  124. Chris5:59 AM

    Prior to watching the movie, I hadn't even heard of Avatar aside from a trailer on TV. My original thought was that the trailer made the movie look terrible and I definitely wasn't going to see it. I only see maybe 10 to 12 movies a year. Despite this, my friend was back in town for the holidays and insisted I go see it.

    I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. I've never felt so excited about a movie before.

    Despite this, I agree the plot wasn't original or amazing, but when you dream, it doesn't always need words or a story to be enjoyable.

    I have to say that while I understand all the complaints about the movie, and how maybe yes the movie could have been *even better* it was still captivating from certain lights.

    What stole me away, was how dream-like the world was. I'm sure that was a goal with the "Dreamwalkers" and the dream machines and such, and maybe I'm just a typical victim of their mass tricks, but I cannot dismiss how magical it was for me *despite* all these valid concerns.

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  125. @Anonymous 2:39: That so many of you have taken my brief description of the plot as a direct criticism thereof proves further how very poorly you're able to gauge, well, pretty much anything. The story is traditional (not necessarily bad, don't forget, I love Titanic), but what puts it in the can are boring performances, lazy writing and the numerous storytelling shortcuts employed by Cameron. I'm glad you got your money's worth of entertainment, but fuck you for your insipid reaction towards those who didn't. I have much comprehension of the magic of movies, but I must say I wonder about your comprehension, period.

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  126. Says Anonymous 12:54: "You're a stupid fucking Douchebag I hope you choke on your own saliva and die, fuck you!"

    I normally wouldn't have published this Douchebag's rabble, but, I guess that seals the deal, huh Keith? There should be a club for people in our shoes. (Also, proof we're one step closer to achieving the world of Idiocracy.)

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  127. Anonymous9:42 AM

    I just skimmed through and feel i have to post. I just cant get how people can get angry at a reviewer in this way? Is there enjoyment threatened in anyways?

    The reviewer pointed out things that are bad with the movie. That's not the same as saying no one will enjoy it, or that there is something wrong with enjoying it. Even the people who enjoyed it would probably enjoy it ever more if the script or storyline were better.

    How can you get offended by a review, and then not even give arguments against it (most seem to agree with the bad storyline) but simply claim that you "enjoyed it" or was "immersed". Beyond me..

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  128. Anonymous11:03 AM

    ewww...

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  129. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Why are people getting their panties all in a bunch over someone who happens to disagree with them. I wasn't particularly fond of the movie myself. Some parts were enjoyable namely the visuals of Pandora but does that mean I "don't get it"? Doubt it. It's called difference in opinion.

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  130. Anonymous11:18 AM

    I love the people that come on here and bash the author and his review just because they're butt-hurt that the review was not in a favorable opinion of the movie.

    Key word: Opinion. His opinion is different than yours. Get over it.

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  131. Anonymous11:23 AM

    People who have invested a large amount of energy and truly felt a lot towards this film are the ones who are going to be really offended by someone who doesn't agree.

    In short they see the negative critique as an assault on them, not the film.

    Saw the film and enjoyed it....for what it was. a visual tour de force. It is a mediocre at best film with regards to plot, dialogue and character development. In short it is fractured. It will not be remembered beyond its contribution to special effects.

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  132. I think everyone here has made... SOME valid points. I do have to disagree with some of them.

    Like the claim that the dialogue in the movie sucked. My only response to this, is please consider the main character. He's a marine. I don't know how many marines you KNOW, but I've never really known them to actually speak like Harvard Law Professors. No, most of them I've met are pretty dimwitted. Even throughout the movie, Jake Sully was consistently bashed for being of low intellectual capacity. And the character he had most of the dialogue WITH...? Her first language was not english. So... I wasn't exactly expecting much in that department, from the get go. Especially since the human outfit was all military. Again. Not the greatest intelligence to be found, there.

    And the gripe about poor character development...? How much more did you want Jake Sully to develop? If you ask me, he went through the right 'stages' of development, based on what the storyline needed. True, the storyline is 'cliche', but in today's world where movies are pumped out like there's no tomorrow, what can be expected? There's little room left for originality, anymore. So it's best to enjoy movies for what they are, or else you're going to be consistently disappointed.

    In a world of complete crap in today's box office, I thought Avatar was a breath of fresh air. The combination of mind-blowing visual effects, action, AND storyline was enough to keep me completely me mesmerized for two hours and forty minutes. Which is all I ever want out of a movie.

    I respect your opinion, Mr. Rob Humanick. I also understand that every movie, every music album, every TV show, every piece of art that is ever put out there is subject to criticism. Even negative criticism. I do not believe that you are a moron. If you were a moron, your review would not have been so well-written. You put thought into it. Keep reviewing. :)

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  133. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Reviewer is right on. The film is amazing to look at, the story is as thin as paper. It's also about 30 minutes too long (and this is coming from someone who prefers the extended cuts of LoTR) You don't notice a movie being too long if it's paced well and moving along. Bogs down way too much in selling us the visuals with nothing at all happening with the plot. It's an hour and a half plot stretched into a 3 hour movies. I have liked everything else Cameron has done, and I *like* this one ok, but it falls short of the hype (how could it have not) but the problem is that it falls WELL short of the hype.

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  134. Anonymous12:24 PM

    An honest objective review..Thanks.
    While watching this movie I couldn't help but sense that I've seen this all before somewhere else.. The story I've seen before.. countless times. The robotic suits.. we've seen before. The 'helicopters'.. we've seen before. One would have hoped that for 400 million they could have done better than recycled ideas. This is no Star Wars.. Not even close.

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  135. Expect More3:29 PM

    All the CG manipulation and eye-candy in the world cannot make up for the insultingly moronic cliche that makes up this entire film. Maybe if I had a few drinks, then took off my glasses I would have my expectations lowered enough to enjoy this movie like the rest of the sheep who loved it because they were told they should.

    Simply because a lot of time and money was put into it...sigh. We have gotten so used to seeing flashy garbage at the theater that suddenly the comment "i didn't totally hate it" has become a "good" review.

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  136. Anonymous3:49 PM

    i just watched this movie and agree 100% , the special effects are awesome but the plot is so weak. The story is so predictable i can set my watch to it. This movie is a very well polished turd with a shiny gold coating

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  137. dfgdfg4:51 PM

    You must have been in a pretty miserable mood when you saw this to not enjoy it. I truly am sorry that you couldnt enjoy this masterpiece.

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  138. @dfgdfg: I am truly sorry that your mother didn't think to give you a name with vowels.

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  139. @Jacquelyn: it wasn't just jake sully but everyone in the movie speaking in a cliched manner, and the story developing along predictable lines.

    there is the argument that all stories are re-tellings, but some are fresh others are not. The first Matrix might be an example of a both innovative effects and gripping story; is there anything in the avatar story that surprised beyond the visuals?

    @rob humanick: you probably need to set up a table where folks can tick a box (a) calling you an insulting name (b) telling you to get off your high horse (c) telling you you were in a bad mood (d) saying how immersed they felt (e) pointing out how 80% of reviews were positive or (f) all of the above. That seems to cover all the bases and would save them more time to watch Avatar again :p

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  140. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Anonymous of 12:26pm, the word is throne, not thrown. And "any cinematic substance"? WTF does that mean exactly? What do you go to the cinema for? Entertainment? Storytelling? What good does it really do you to see a 12 foot high head of an actor in a dialogue film of a David Mamet play? Couldn't that wait till video? Or better yet, read the fucking book and shut the fuck up. Keep your hoity-toity comments about the "cinema" to yourself you narcissistic, self-aggrandizing douchebag.

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  141. Anonymous6:21 PM

    For me Avatar is B movie with an A movie budget.

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  142. Rob,

    Regardless of my opinions on the film, it truly worries me when dozens of trolls from rotten tomatoes can't respond to your critique with anything that could be remotely considered constructive; and I bow to your patience with these socks.

    P.S. That was a timely reference to Buzz Lightyear :)

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  143. Anonymous8:58 AM

    It's extremely disappointing that some people feel they need to belittle and/or abuse other people that don't share their views on a movie.

    Jacquelyn, there are plenty of movies that feature more than cursory character development!

    You might need to look further than the blockbusters though - you're right when it comes to many of the huge Hollywood movies.

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  144. great movie.. great technology used..

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  145. Visually stimulating and pleasant, but you're right the acting, characters, and story line could have had a little more depth or complexity.

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  146. All I have to say is this thread was hilarious. The defensive responses are CLASSIC.

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  147. Anonymous11:02 PM

    A waste of time, energy and money. Clearly a forgettable film full of cliches and stereotypes. All the fancy special effects don't hide the shallowness of its core.

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  148. Anonymous2:43 PM

    A story that doesn't ask you to think is lazy, though not necessarily bad. A story that specifically relies on the ABSENCE of thought is pure viral stupidity.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but every time I'm forced to come to terms with a blatant lack of logic, it strains my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, and I'm launched out of that lovely sense of immersion everyone keeps boasting. Too bad. Without immersion this movie is simply a spectacle-fest. But I guess a lot of people go for that nowadays.

    --SPOILERS FOLLOW--

    One point I wish to address in particular is that the antagonists are portrayed as ruthless, while being utterly incompetent at it. You might think that with the resources at their disposal they could simply carpet bomb the whole area from orbit, or at least high altitude where none of the Na'vi could reach them, but no. The military willingly places itself on the same playing field as their foe, when they don't NEED to. It doesn't matter how unfair they imagined that playing field to be. A course of action in which there was no present danger, compared to one with even minimal perceived danger, and they chose the latter. The Na'vi won, not because they were morally superior, not because they were strategically superior, but because the plot demanded it, and the antagonists were all too happy to oblige with their own imminent stupidity.

    I'm not saying it would be impossible for the Na'vi to win. There is at least one feasible scenario that comes to my mind in which victory or a stalemate could have been easily obtained. In fact, the components for this strategy were already present. I even suspect that it may have been considered at one point in production, but because the ensuing battle wouldn't have been as "epic" it was likely trashed.

    I could go into a whole review of my own if I continue, so I'll just stop right there.

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  149. Georgie7:50 AM

    Was reading through these quite tedious defences of what is a very pretty but rather empty movie when I came across this "pearl":

    1:54 AM
    Seamus said...

    "The only part I complained about is the action (not the action itself but how it played out) Sort of cliche, but the movie is another masterpiece in both Cinematic value and story value.

    Final thoughts, your a moron."

    Seamus, if you're going to call someone a moron, I'd advise you to check the difference between "your" and "you're". Here's a hint: the second one is a contraction of "you are" while the first is a possessive pronoun. Good day, sir.

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  150. Anonymous6:58 PM

    After reading an accurate review of Inception, I checked this review by the author. Where the reviewer has seen overly gross exposition as a sin in Inception, the simple fairy tale of Avatar appears to be scored by the same criteria, a misapplication I think. I disagree, Avatar was very masterful storytelling combining new technological advances in the medium of film.

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