“Hurt Locker” beats “Avatar”

“Hurt Locker,” the intense thriller about an American bomb squad in Iraq–a low budget film with a tiny audience–beat the 3-D anti-military environmentalist blockbuster “Avatar” in the Academy Awards.   “Avatar” won the cinematography and art direction, as was proper, but “Hurt Locker” won best picture and best director (to Kathy Bigelow, ex-wife of “Avatar’s” James Cameron), among others.

Sandra Bullock won best actress for the pro-Christian “The Blind Side.”   “Precious,” the heart-rending depiction of an abused, neglected, overweight African-American child took a number of awards.  On the whole, it was a good night for positive movies.

I didn’t think “Avatar” would win much, despite the record money it is making.  Actors make up a big percentage of the Academy voters, and they, on the whole, are scared of the prospect of being replaced with computer-animations.  (Yes, I know there were actors somewhere behind the elongated blue aliens, but it isn’t the same as old-school acting.)

Full list of Oscar winners – NYPOST.com.

‘Avatar’ passes ‘Titanic’

“Avatar” passed another James Cameron movie, “Titanic,” as the top-grossing movie of all time, pulling in as of Sunday $1.292 billion worldwide.  The movie about the ship earned $1.242 billion.

See this report.

In my review of the movie, I found it visually spectacular, but with a painfully sappy and stereotyped story. Then again, that’s pretty much what I thought about “Titanic.”

How do you explain “Avatar’s” appeal?

The 3-D movie is one-dimensional

I went to see Avatar on New Year’s Day. It was just awful–ludicrously, unintentionally-comically awful. The story was insufferable, making a clumsy parallel with the War in Iraq, just as you commenters who saw it reported. James Cameron had the idea for this movie for years, we are told, and back then in his circles our conflict in Iraq was all about the evil President Bush and how we were just fighting the war over oil. I wonder if Mr. Cameron sees the war in the same way now that President Obama is fighting it. I would just say that the movie’s portrayal of our military men as cartoon villains is unconscionable. The movie is proof that parts of our society are quite ready to villainize our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as was done to our Vietnam veterans. It’s also interesting to see how this mindset apparently thinks of our adversaries: as simple, virtuous noble savages with no gender role differences.

But this political theme, along with the radical environmentalism and pantheistic religiosity, is not what makes this a bad movie. It is possible to portray liberalism, environmentalism, and pantheism with subtlety, complexity, and creativity. Avatar, on the contrary, is stereotyped, cliched, predictable, preachy, sappy, and (ironically) one-dimensional. The characters are superficial, the dialogue is laughable, and there is absolutely no irony, wit, or self-awareness.

Visually, though, the movie is fun to watch. The cinematography, the computer effects, the editing, and the visual spectacle are impressive.

As for the 3-D, which I was eagerly anticipating, I was underwhelmed. The technology is an improvement over the old cardboard glasses with the red and blue cellophane, but it’s not much different from that. You still have to wear glasses–these have some kind of polarized lenses–and it’s still based on the same optical illusion made possible by our having two eyes side by side. What we see is nothing like a hologram, with fully molded 3-D figures, just a heightened foreground and objects that appear to float towards the viewer. I’m sure the technology will get better. The previews featured several upcoming 3-D movies, mostly if not all from Disney, including the new Shrek. But in Avatar, though it was the most appealing part of the movie, the 3-D elements failed to produce the sense of wonder and amazement that the movie desperately needed.

Other than that, I really enjoyed it.