Sunday, 21 February 2010


The daughter took me to see Avatar yesterday. For those of you who have just emerged, blinking, from an enclosed monastic order, Avatar is James Cameron's latest movie, which has broken all box office records in America.

And I can see why; it's hugely entertaining escapism, the beguiling alien world of Pandora is brilliantly imagined, and the special effects are awesome. The story, simple though it is, kept me on the edge of my seat. Way better than Titanic, which I didn't warm to at all, and nearly as good as Terminator 2, one of my favourite films.

Only one cavil - the ore that has excited the greed of the Earthmen is called unobtanium. This is such a joke name, I can only think Cameron used it to be getting on with in early drafts, and it stuck.

Official Avatar Movie


  1. Hi Lexi
    I also only just caught up with Avatar this week, and agree with you - seeing it on the big screen was the only way to get the most out of those impressive effects. I can't agree with you about the story though. I kept thinking 'Isn't this Pocahontas?' And I haven't even seen that film, I only know the history. OK the ending was different, but the concept's hardly orignal or surprising.

    Anyway, BAFTAs and Oscars for technical genius would be well deserved, let's see what the industry awards decide.


  2. Lexi!

    Who is this mad Anonymous?!

    Anyway, I am so, so envious of you and everyone else on this planet who has seen it.

    I wanna see Avatar *she says stamping foot*! I'm so behind my film watching - but I really, really, really, REALLY want to see this before it disappears from the cinema. I want to wear the 3D glasses (like with UP) and enjoy the "unobtainium"!!


    The trailer is AWESOME!

    Take care

  3. You're being a bit severe, K - how many plots are there, five or seven? It's what you do with them...

    Kitty, you must go, and get the full 3D experience if you can, though I don't think it's necessary to the film.

    I have dealt with old Anon's contribution. But he'll be back, no doubt.

  4. You're right, Lexi, I am far too harsh a critic. Have you held on to your 3D glasses for all the other films that were trailed? It's clearly going to be this year's thing.

  5. We just saw it today. The look of the film is grand, and I found myself carried along, but ultimately I found it an empty sort of tale. I didn't believe the "hero" had any sort of motivation beyond his new girlfriend and his very responsive new body. Cameron missed a vital point by not establishing any sort of meaningful relationships between Sully and at least one or two other Big Blue People. And the carnage near the end was endless.

    I agree that there are only so many plots, but this wasn't a fresh take on the Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, etc, etc, storyline. If Cameron could have figured out a way to wrap it up without the death and destruction I might have liked it better. I was looking for some sort of message of hope for Peace. But this was just a temporary victory for one side. Most especially for one young couple, bless their hearts.

    Anyway, it made me wish we had gone to Costco instead. The thirty-two dollars it cost to get the four of us into the bargain matinee would have bought not only a really big jar of sundried tomatoes but even some paper towels and may

  6. Once again the little keyboard on my webbook does me in.

    ...but even some paper towels and maybe a dozen muffins.

  7. I can't decide whether to see Avatar or not. The special effects look amazing, but elements of the story bother me. Maybe I'll see The Hurt Locker instead, seeing as how BAFTA liked it so much!

  8. The Hurt Locker looks as if it's the sort of film which would leave you thinking. Avatar left me a little let down. How the disability storyline was handled disappointed me, but I won't say much as it'd be a spoiler.

    The thing is: Avatar is an amazing spectacle. The best way to see it is going to be the 3D version on the big screen, so if you can get there - do.

  9. Good heavens, Alan, being able-bodied again for a paraplegic must be about the biggest motivation you can get! I agree re carnage – I’d have traded some of that for more interaction as you suggest.

    Justine, my advice is go, and decide whether you’re bothered afterwards. Life is bothering.

    K’s right – it’s worth seeing for the spectacle alone.

  10. Well since this is a writers' site and we want to know why Avatar works, let me put a plug in for Larry Brooks who teaches at the Willamette Writers' Conference (by the way the conf costs about $80 if you volunteer for half the conf). Larry writes at and begins a several part deconstruction of Avatar here:

  11. Norm, Avatar did make me think of you and the hero's journey, the hole in the soul, rebirth, call to arms etc..

    So I was listening all the time :o)

  12. I suspect Cameron is quite versed in Campbell's "Man of a Thousand Faces" explanation of human story-telling and incorporated a number of archetypes.

    Brooks doesn't use the Hero's Journey template at all. Instead of three-acts he says (our western) stories use four. The structure he says all stories demystifies the story. See Brooks' Story Structure — Just Possibly the Holy Grail of Storytelling

  13. I haven't actually seen Avatar, but I have come across unobtanium before. Oakley the people who make trendy, and actually very good, sunglasses have used it for some time. The Wikipedia entry says:

    Oakley, Inc. has registered Unobtainium as a US trademark in connection with a hydrophilic rubber compound that has increased grip when wet with perspiration. They have used the term in connection with the nose-pieces and ear-stems of their sunglasses since 1987 and for watches since 2002. US trademark laws means that the word is only protected for use in connection with similar goods and services as listed in the trademark registration.

    The last sentence probably explains why the film can be so unoriginal and get away with it. I think back in 1987 it was cool.

  14. How interesting - quite weird, too.

    I wonder if James Cameron knew that? Maybe it only came to light when the lawyers were poring over the script, and they said, as you did, that it didn't matter.