Avatar

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Smart Man and I went to see Avatar yesterday with the Incomparable Anne™, her folks, and her brother and lovely sister-in-law.

It was AWESOME. AWESOME. And did I mention it was AWESOME?

Okay, enough gushing. There are reviews all over the Internet, so I'm not going to pick the movie apart or go on and on and on about the technology that made the Na'vi so incredibly realistic (and it did), but I am going to nitpick on a couple of interrelated things.

Over at Stonekettle Station, my friend Jim Wright was complaining about how James Cameron always seems to make the military the bad guy in his movies, and how he found that pretty offensive, since he's a career military man. I find such typecasting offensive myownself, for what should be obvious reasons. But in this case, I think Jim missed the mark just a bit. The offensive Colonel and his ilk in this film aren't military, at least not in the way that Jim and I are. They're mercenaries, and that's a whole different kettle of fish. Real military men and women, the ones that I'm proud to call my shipmates and brothers and sisters-in-arms, would not consider signing up with a mercenary outfit, and especially wouldn't sign up as a mercenary for a corporation. Because the real villain wasn't the mercenaries. It was the corporation who thought it just fine and dandy to demonize and destroy the natives in order to line their pockets. Sort of like our recent economic crisis, come to think about it.

The other, related, nit is that I really want to know who writes the dialogue for the professional soldiers in Cameron's films. The Smart Man says it's written the way it is because Cameron simply doesn't understand that the military is a profession, not some crazed testosterone fest, and I tend to agree. The Colonel's "safety brief" at the beginning of the movie could just as easily been given by Gunny Highway as by the futuristic Colonel, and made me roll my eyes more than a little. The fighting men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are highly trained and highly professional, and while esprit de corps requires a certain amount of rhetoric, Cameron takes it so far over the top that it made me throw up in my mouth a little. Next time, James, find yourself a military adviser to help with the cultural aspects of military life. I know a retired Chief Warrant Officer who might want the job...

16 comments:

Jim Wright said...

I would seriously dig that job ;)

Janiece said...

I can just imagine. And your contribution would probably make it a better film, at least IMO.

Shawn Powers said...

I think Jim would make it lame. "Those spaceships need ABS dangit!"

hehehe, sorry, it's been a while since I hijacked a thread...

Janiece said...

No, no - he would insist that the Leonopteryx had ABS.

mom in northern said...

I had the very same comments about the film vs the military. Killing people and breaking thing for the highest bidder leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Isn't there a series of Sci Fi stories built on that premise?

Anne C. said...

Thanks for posting that about the mercenaries. I talked to Stacey today and she had been thinking of avoiding it because she heard it was "anti-military." I pointed out that they were mercenaries, not military, and my mum pointed out that there were plenty of native militia on the other side of the conflict, and she was convinced to go.
I do think Cameron could use fewer stereotypes in general, but definitely about fighting men and women.

brenda113 said...

The hype talk on safety given by the Colonel was being given to mercenary types signing on. Not military. The usual science fiction fiction is that only the most desperate go to a developing planet under the command of a private corporation (point #1 in Andre Norton story line).
The military were not the bad guys. It was a classic "good military" vs "bad-conquer the world military". What could be more military than the warriors of that planet? The Avatar project was merely an irritating civi "tree hugger" idea. Plainly to be ignored by the corporation. (point #2 Andre Norton story line).
I could go on reciting all the look alike Andre Norton story line points, but I shan't. It's about time such wonderful movie technology was applied to good science fiction/fantasy films.

Billy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janiece said...

*TONG!*

Jerry Critter said...

I understand your complaint about how the military is presented BUT this film is a fantasy/scifi flick. Scientists could make the same complaint about the science. All aspects of reality get somewhat suspended in this type of movie.

Janiece said...

Jerry, that's true enough, and normally I have no trouble suspending my disbelief and enjoying the show. Did I mention the show was AWESOME?

Like I said, it's just a nitpick, based on my own experiences.

Jerry Critter said...

You have a point. It can get tiresome seeing the military continually portrayed in this fashion.

Rachael said...

Actually, I've been meaning to write a post about Avatar, to make that point about the presentation of the military. Considering that it's only mentioned so very briefly at the beginning of the story, I think a lot of people didn't actually catch that the "military" in the movie were actually mercenaries and employed by the corporation. So I think it would be a lot more fair to say that the movie's message is very anti-corporate mercenary. With the various scandals we've seen recently with contractors in Iraq/Afghanistan (like Blackwater) it kind of makes sense. Obviously, I don't know what's going on in Cameron's head, but I wouldn't be surprised if he finds it extremely worrying just how many military jobs have been handed over to contractors that don't have the same sort of oversight/ingrained system of honor/etc that the military has.

Jim Wright said...

Just so everybody understands, when I wrote my Avatar post and made the military observation, it wasn't about Avatar per se, but James Cameron films in general, The Abyss, Aliens - he tends to portray the military in cliches and as the bad guys. I don't mean that I don't enjoy the hell out of watching his movies and look forward to seeing them (and in fact I'm going to see Avatar again this weekend). And I sure don't sit there seething over how he sees us military folks and frankly most Americans accept those cliches as gospel.

It was just an observation.

Janiece said...

Jim, I took it as such, since I love Cameron's films, too.

Rachael said...

I always thought that the Colonial Marines were the good guys in Aliens, honestly. Some of the dialogue was pretty over the top, but they did a good job kicking some ass. The real villain was the corporate weasel guy...