Maybe I would have liked James Cameron’s mega-movie “Avatar” if I hadn’t seen Disney’s “Pocahontas” fifteen years ago. But I did, so instead I was just bored out of my mind. Sure, the special effects are great and the 3D technology does some amazing things that haven’t been done before. But remove the flashy graphics, and you’re left with a completely bland, predictable movie.
Normally, at this point in a review, I’d explain the basic premise of the movie to give you an idea of what it’s about. With “Avatar,” I don’t have to. If you’ve seen “Pocahontas,” “The Last Samurai,” “Dances With Wolves,” “The New World,” or “FernGully: The Last Rainforest,” you’ve seen “Avatar” before.
From start to finish, you could probably tell me everything that happens in this movie if you just replace “Native Americans” with “weird blue people” and “gold” with “unobtainium.”
You will never be surprised by “Avatar.” You will never wonder what’s going to happen next. The only twist in “Avatar” is that there is no twist. I kept waiting for the plot to play with my expectations and take some crazy turn to keep me interested, but it never did. Not every movie needs to be some unpredictable, Shyamalanian mystery, but “Avatar” borders on plagiarism.
The 3D effects went a long way toward stopping me from walking out of the theater, but mostly because I paid extra for the ticket and felt obligated to stay. For about half an hour, I was pretty amazed with how good everything looked.
The best 3D effects the movie employs are also the subtlest; the glare of glass that takes a second to register that it’s actually in front of someone’s face, for instance. But after that initial half an hour of wow, I became desensitized to the special effects and concentrated on what was actually going on in the story. I literally had to be nudged awake at one point.
If James Cameron is a genius for anything, it’s for finding a way to so transparently repackage the exact same story we have seen for decades and still be heralded as a visionary.