Thursday, December 24, 2009


I like the idea of continuing to post on this blog. But the focus of my activities is always shifting, perambulating, and I don't always have something clever to say about alcohol.

But I have a few things I want to say about Avatar, a movie which I didn't think I'd like, but then I liked very much. Despite my love for the movie, though, it's still undeniably a hodgepodge of every movie epic to be released over the last thirty years, with little new in terms of plot (it's breakthroughs are in art, design, wonder-fabrication, and Cameron's knack for strong female leads).

In that vein, here's a less-than-comprehensive list of Avatar influences:

The Last Samurai: A white man is sent by the attacking white-man army to subdue the natives, finds himself captured, and then ultimately leads the natives in a war against the white conquerors, having learned the beauty and purity of their ways. Two very similar scenes: the samurai first encounter Tom Cruise defending himself with a spear against a half-dozen of them, and they spare his life because of the extent of his bravery and pluckiness. Avatar's space marine does exactly this, down to the waving of a stick 360 degrees about him. That, and the final scene where the samurai on horse-back are charging at the soldiers, who mow them down with rifles... again, this is in Avatar.

Pocohontas: The blue alien girl is Pocohontas, the space marine is John Smith, and if you keep your eyes closed and retro-fit the dialogue, it's the same movie.

Aliens: Also directed by James Cameron. Aliens climaxes with a dramatic battle between the giant, vicious Alien and a pissed-off Sigourney Weaver in a large mechanized robot, while in Avatar, an American space marine cimaxes in a sexy blue alien. Another similarity lies in the final battle between a large, reptilian alien and a mechanized robot, but that comes second (and that's another play-on-words, my friends).

Star Wars: Every great epic fantasy film since Star Wars owes everything to Star Wars. An awe-inspiring parallel universe with its own cast of interesting species, languages, fauna, customs, mysticism; a male protagonist who starts the movie with little understanding of the world around him, so that the viewer can be slowly eased into the world as the hero is gradually shown to be the only person with the cojones/magical aptitude to save it.

The Matrix: Jacking into another world with bodies that allow you to do things never dreamed possible... On a separate note, how interesting is it that Pandora's native humanoid race has fiberoptic cables growing out of the back of their heads?

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