Movie Review: Michelle is NOT on the AVATAR Bandwagon! Thinks it’s Boring, Lifeless, and oh yeah the 3D Kind of Sucked!

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I went to the my new favorite mall today, Palisades Center Mall in NY to check out James Cameron’s Avatar 3D on a real iMax Screen, not the fake Max that’s near my house in MD. I walked into the theater ambivalent about what I was about to experience and left the packed theater feeling about the same.

Any movie that takes 15 long minutes to set up its premise via voiceover is in trouble. Especially when the narrator sounds like he’s reading the phone book. There’s no sense of urgency or emotion, just hey, “we’re on this planet with blue people who want to kill us. To survive we created these Avatars made of Human/Na’vi DNA that can walk and survive outside this compound. Oh yeah my brother died, so I have to decide if I’m going to replace him and take over his Avatar, because there’s a lot of money in it and I can’t walk anyway. So what the hell, you know?”

Avatar is being hyped as being this new benchmark in 3D technology. This may have been the case 3 or 4 years ago when no one was releasing 3D films, but in this year of 3D it just isn’t. I thought the 3D work done in Final Destination 3D was better than what was on display here. Yes, there are some nice moments like when we first see the floating mountains of Pandora, but after awhile you realize you are just watching blue people run around in a forest. Wow, my eyeballs are really popping (sarcasm).

Since I really didn’t care about any of the characters or the story the 3D work felt a bit cold and kind of like old school 3D to me, to the point where things looked slightly fuzzy at times and my eyes got a bit tired a few times during the movie. This hasn’t happened to me at any of this year’s other 3D films. So as technologically advanced as this movie supposedly is, it felt like a film that could have been made 5 or 10 years ago, there was nothing on screen that blew my socks off. I would have rather seen this movie without the 3D.

Avatar

There’s no talk about the Avatars themselves. These things are grown from DNA, walk, breath, have motor functions, etc. but are completely empty shells? There are no brains in them until a human links up with them? It seemed too contrived to me. I never bought into the basic premise and certainly not the love story between Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). We know he’s there to betray the tribe and they know that he’s’ not a “real” person so while the film takes great lengths to establish this love, we all know it can never work. Poor Zoe she gives a heck of a performance here, she’s really good but Worthington, who ruined Terminator: Salvation, is just stiff. He has zero charisma on screen in his human or CGI form. The success of this movie is all on his shoulders and he fails. It seemed like most of the movie was set up just to delay the inevitable final battle which was a better than the Ewoks Vs. Empire, but had about the same impact.

A minute after I purchased my ticket two-bus loads of Teenagers came into the theater. I was expecting a pretty lively audience but you could have heard a pin drop. This movie takes itself way too seriously; there are no cute or funny moments, no pump fisting moments, nothing. This is one blah movie, which makes for a hard review to write. I didn’t love this movie or hate it. It”s one big pile of “meh,” and feels like there’s this 3-hour void in my life.

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EM Review
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 12.18.09

19 thoughts on “Movie Review: Michelle is NOT on the AVATAR Bandwagon! Thinks it’s Boring, Lifeless, and oh yeah the 3D Kind of Sucked!”

  1. You don’t think it’s kinda weird that you are the only one that had such a bad experience with this film? Maybe you need some glasses as to wjy things looked blurry to you, did you have a few drinks before the movie? Drugs? I hte to ay this but please seek some help… the people in your life do talk about you behind your back and I woud hate for you to find out one day that everyone you know likely think your a bit off.

  2. I really wanted to like this movie and was ready to forgive a lot. But in the end it just didn’t deliver. I couldn’t forgive the highly embarrassing story. It just didn’t take anything seriously. One review I read said that the script “played it very, very safe.” Which is exactly how I felt. Strip away the effects and you have very little. Not nothing, but little.

    In the end it’s still just an effect film. I believed it for awhile, but some point soon after Jake met Neytiri I thought it all went to hell. If I were the Na’vi I would have just kicked his ass out of there. He definitely wasn’t one of them and why they somehow just accepted him is beyond me.

    I’m sorry, there were just too many giant plot holes and leaps in logic to suspend my disbelief.
    The love story was a joke. (And this is coming from someone who liked Titanic!)

    So in the end? It looked good. It was neat. Neytiri was pretty bad-ass with her bow. But in the end… nope, sorry. but maybe now that the technology is proved Jim can focus on giving the next film a heart.

  3. Are you really as crazy as you sound???
    Poor you.. I really feel so sorry for your soul.. So quick in dismissal… Dont you see you are probably the only one with this view?
    People.. Don’t believe this crazy b***h… May be the only reason she has this blogpost up is for the hits she gets for being the only negative review about this movie..
    Take the 3D apart… Your eyes never popped up because the 3D never danced naked in front of you like those other cheap attempts at 3D you mentioned about… It was not showing up as 3D.. It was showing up as real you mo**n…
    May be the subtle message of Humans being those nasty jerks.. And the corporations sucking life out of everything never resonated in your heart..
    May be the subtle message about the past.. about the colonial mindset.. where aborigines and natives in countries across the world who lived in peace with nature were brutally killed and murdered never resonated in your heart (Yes.. there have been many many movies that said the same thing.. But come on.. There is a difference when the king sends a message)…
    May be… You never had a heart in the first place… My god… You are hopeless! God save your soul!

  4. What the heck is pump fisting anyway? Please edit your review before you post it. I just saw this movie yesterday and I have also seen Final destination 2 in 3D. What were you on when you saw FD2? Sure it jumps out at you, but is that really the point of the 3D in Avatar? It is not meant to be something that makes you go, holy crap, the na’vi are about to run me over!!!! It’s meant to immerse you in this new world. So when you compare a 3D movie that was made in a couple of months to one that took multiple years to develop and refine, there is no comparison. I could not take the rest of your review seriously after I read that. Ugh, please go back to reviewing awful chick-flick movies and stay away everything else.

  5. Michelle, you perfectly summed up my exact feelings!!!
    I was PUMPED to see this movie, reading articles on how it took 10 years to make, Jim invented a brand new 3D cam, and what not. Then I started to get bored. I took off my glasses about 5 times, not being able to follow the fast sequences as they were big blurs. I have to say it complements any other old, hackneyed, Hollywood action film plot. I did enjoy the idea behind how they Na’vi lived, however. But nothing was a wow factor for me. Guy puts on costume, girl hates guy, girl loves guy, girl hates guy again, guy saves world, girl loves guy again.

  6. Registered just so I could show you some support Michelle; your review is completely legitimate and I have no idea how some of these commentators take themselves seriously.

    For example, “You don’t think it’s kinda weird that you are the only one that had such a bad experience with this film?” A) Who cares what others think? We’re not all members of a herd that parrot the reviews of others – it’s called originality and integrity of self-opinion. B) MANY others had a bad experience with the film’s plot:

    From Rottentomatoes.com
    “This movie feels exactly like watching your friend play the greatest video game ever. It looks pretty, but eventually gets boring.”
    “It stops being a story at all and is instead just a sheer, unmitigated visual and auditory experience, two hours and forty minutes of being exposed to a brand new world.”
    “Avatar is great to look at, often astonishing and sometimes beautiful. But, oh, is the story pedestrian.”
    “if it runs out of imagination and even some credibility when it comes to the plot, well, there is still enough on the screen to qualify as entertaining eye candy.”

    FACE IT – the plot was completely and utterly cliche.

    Or Sri’s “Yes.. there have been many many movies that said the same thing.. But come on.. There is a difference when the king sends a message” – responds to his own criticism. A) The “messages” WEREN’T so subtle; the movie clobbered you over the head with that half-baked horsepoop. B) Those messages have been beaten to death through various forms of media; if you’re not going to rehash the message skillfully or propose a new avenue of thought, then leave that junk out of the movie. It’s a pet peeve of mine when art poorly communicates messages that have already been communicated much more effectively. It’s ridiculously boring to the viewer, and disrespectful to the message itself to be so poorly rehashed.

    And last but not least Ehhhhhh’s “It is not meant to be something that makes you go, holy crap, the na’vi are about to run me over!!!! It’s meant to immerse you in this new world.” A) The definition of immerse, since you seem to need it so badly: “to plunge into something that surrounds or covers.” How the devil is a movie “immersing” me with flat 3D huh? The most exciting 3D in this movie was the “this preview has been approved for all audiences” slowly moving toward me during the previews. It was the only time I heard the audience “Oooooohhhh!” at anything the entire 3 hours. I even had to remove my 3D glasses during the film as a reminder that I was, in fact, watching a 3D movie.

    In conclusion, thanks for having the courage to be honest Michelle.

  7. Wow… you really have no business reviewing movies. You are truly inept in this field. To say that the gimmicky 3D effects in Final Destination 3 were more to your tastes than the seamless integration and immersion you get in Avatar is absurd to me!!
    Maybe Michael Bay is more your speed… he makes big budget action films for stupid people. James Cameron on the other hand makes high octane films for people who are interested in a story with substance. Of course the allegory about waging war to exploit natural resources or displacing indigenous people in the name of progress was lost on you. Please critique handbags or shoes or something more your wheelhouse.

  8. Basically this is “Dances With Wolves” on another planet. Lieutenant “Dumb-bear” fall in love with “Stands With Tits”, and turns Injun on his own people.

  9. Did you watch the same film as I did? I found Avatar in 2D to be a satisfying and immersing story of corporate / military exploitation of natural resources, the displacing of indigenous people, two races (Humans, Na’vi) struggling to co-exist, a love story between races, and all set on the gorgeous alien world of Pandora!

    I thought that Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) performance was good. I expect a former Marine to be rather unimaginative, take orders, have sophomoric behavior, and be “trigger happy.” Sully does not disappoint.

    Neytira (Zoe Saldana) is a tremendous presence as a captivating blend of huntress, chief’s daughter, Sully’s love interest, and “voice” for Pandora’s nature.

    I have mixed feelings about Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) performance. She initially comes across as a “tough as nails” intelligent head of the Avatar program, but has no clue about the mining operations plans to exploit and displace / exterminate the Na’vi?

    I really enjoyed Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) over the top and stereotypical performance of a military commander who performs his mission and gets back in time for dinner! The scene in which he is calming drinking his coffee while watching his troops destroy the Nav’i’s world tree is chilling and representative of the military-industrial forces of Earth’s distain and contempt for the Nav’i.

    And; of course, the special effects were spectacular. But the way I judge special effects, is not whether they “blew my socks off”… but rather do they immerse the viewer into a believable world in which flying dragons and floating land masses are the norm. Again, the special effects are seamless and made Cameron’s Pandora come alive.

    So, in the end, I give Avatar a solid A rating. It has all the traits of a good sci-fi movie. An immersive, believable, and gorgeous world, interesting characters, good and predictable story, beautiful Nav’i race, love interests, and epic battles. I can think of much worst things to spend my time on – maybe the 3 minutes it took me to read your “review” of Avatar?

  10. Michelle, I expect more substance, justification, and defense of your opinion when you write a movie review as a critic. I agree that a critic brings their opinions, their prejudices and their bias when he / she critics a film. The “opinion” is a large part of a film review – but it is not the entire package. You also need to justify your opinion.

    You wrote: “Since I really didn’t care about any of the characters or the story, the 3D work felt a bit cold and kind of old school 3D to me…” Why did you not care about the characters? Was the dialog, acting, or storyline / plot defective? How and why? A good critic justifies his / her opinion.

    You wrote: “…it felt like a film that could have been made 5 or 10 years ago,…” Technologically, I don’t believe you understand what you were viewing. Avatar utilized a new film technique called “image-based facial performance capture” which required the actors to wear special head gear eqipped with a camera. This video technique allowed rendering of an actor’s face at an almost pore-to-pore level resulting in the expressive features of the Nav’i race. Five years ago, the camera required to do this rendering would have been the size of a refrigerator. Ten years ago, the technology did not exist.

    You wrote: “There’s no talk about the Avatars themselves. These things are grown from DNA, walk, breath, have motor functions, etc. but are completely empty shells? There are no brains in them until a human links up with them? It seemed too contrived to me.” I believe you missed the symbolism of the use of avatars in the film. The word “avatar” is derived from the French avatarati + tarati which literally means “he decends” and “crosses over.” Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) literally and figuratively “crosses over” from the Human to the Nav’i race both in sympathies and also physically when he is “reborn” in his avatar. But all this is lost in your “review” because you can’t get beyond the concept of avatars? The “science” behind the avatars is not central to the various themes playing within Avatar, but you consider it important and a detraction from your enjoyment of the film?

    And finally, you wrote: “This movie takes itself way too seriously; there are no cute or funny moments, no pump fisting moments, nothing. This is one blah movie, which makes for a hard review to write. I didn’t love this movie or hate it. It’s one big pile of “meh,” Jake Sully has several funny one-liners and some funny exchanges with Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver). And in regards to “pump fisting moments,” there were several in both the epic air and land battles between the Humans and Na’vi including the climatic fight between Jake Sully and Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). A “blah movie.?” Did you not feel any sympathy or emotion as the Na’vi world tree was destroyed, Neytiri’s father died in her arms, or an innocent, indigenous people were exploited and destroyed by a massive industrial / military complex?

    Above all, I believe any person who calls himself / herself a professional critic needs to be honest with their readership and write a fair review. You may love, hate, or be indifferent (as you wrote) about a film. But, to simply state you don’t like a film without providing thoughtful and insightful comments to justify your opinion does nothing to elevate the critical discussion of Avatar. Instead, you present a “blah movie” that is “one big pile of meh.” Such sophomoric statements add no creditability to your “review” of Avatar and make me question your opinion on past movies that you “reviewed.”

  11. I totally agree with you, Michelle. It felt very “blah”. Mediocre visuals; the CG looks the exact same since LOTR except you wear fancy glasses (after all weta did the Avatar models). Characters are one dimensional and stereotypical. With as bad as the story and character development was I’m surprise it’s getting all the buzz because its just Cameron. This is what happens to directors who get a lot of money when making a film, it pleases the masses but not the creator. I noticed with all the review forums of Avatar, people who didn’t actually like the film ::gasp:: have been getting personal attacks toward the OP as their argument with out backing up WHY they think its good. Everyone says, “Are you drunk?” “Avatar is the best since the Matrix!”: Roger Ebert (LOL) or “Avatar is an experience in a beautiful forest world that is Pandora”. All I have to say to that is, you want a damn experience with a forest, GO OUTSIDE! There’s no reason for you to rely on a CGI forest to satisfy your fixation. Make a trip to a national park and I can guarantee you’ll feel like your on a different world. Relying on just visuals in a movie doesn’t cut it I’m sorry. I’m so glad their are people like you with common sense that can see through all the bells and whistles of this movie. This is starting to remind me of the Obama campaign of the movie industry. Thank you for your honest review!! I was beginning to feel like Nicole Kidman from the Invaders lol.

    Here’s an excellent “anti” review of Avatar if your interested: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499549/board/thread/153984548?p=1

  12. I’m an artist that works in a similar field as the creators of Avatar, and I can honestly say that it takes a LOT of hard work, passion and talent to come up with something as impressive as Avatar.
    I usually don’t participate in kind of online discussion, but seeing these comments bothered me deeply than usual. So I will make a parallel that may sound too deep, but here we go: we can’t forget that when Michelangelo and Da Vinci exposed their artwork for the first time, small people like Michelle, RiVVenGuard, Exi, etc. said negative things about it since they were incapable of creating anything on their own.
    We have to be, in the end, sorry for critics like that, whose life is based on seeing people’s effort and pointing all the problems. How sad is that?
    The great thing is, Michelangelo and DaVinci became legends, and the small people that criticized their work vanished like dust. This kind of thought makes me sleep well at night.

    These are my humble two cents.

  13. There is no cute moments is Avatar. So you are saying that the world of Pandora was not beautiful? The scene with Jake and Neytiri at the end was not beautiful? You sound like you went to the theatre to bash the movie. The way James Cameron put the actors sorrounded by Pandora was something I never seen before and way better than other movies where we have moments that look fake or dead (Ex. Polar Express). You said “A minute after I purchased my ticket two-bus loads of Teenagers came into the theater. I was expecting a pretty lively audience but you could have heard a pin drop”. Yeah in my theatre too but in my case people don’t even want to go to the bathroom because they were completly inmerse in the world of Avatar. The 3D was not naussea inducer this time because was used to enhanced the world of Pandora like a view master and not to let evrything come to your face every second. Am glad the movie is being succesfull so we can not consider this review seriously. But Not everybody is going to like Avatar because not everybody like this kind of movie. I was cheering for Jake Sully and Neytiri since they show up of screen but If you think Sam Worthington has no charisma, well thats your problem. This is one of the worst reviews I ever read because had some really bad comparassions. The story was simple but believable. If you like movies like 2012 with worst stories a more cliche than Avatar, Is hard to believe in your review. $215 million and more than 90% good reviews all around the internet is prove of what am saying. But is hard to please everybody I think.

  14. Michelle is completely wrong about the movie …..
    Cute moments ….. Everything about the world of Pandora, scenes with Jake and Neytiri in special one at the end and in the air ….. Rah, Rah moments well ….. What about the scene when Jake recovered the confidence of the Navi, am not going to tell you how but was beautiful and people need to see it to know what am talking about. When Jake put together the Navi’s at the end and the big battle at the end. Well maybe the cuties moments Michelle is talking about are the dogs and little robot humping in transformers 2 or the cheesy CGI of G.I. Joe. 2012 was more cliche than Avatar and she gave a B review.

  15. You are one idiotic critic I have ever witnessed in my life.Went through your whole rating history of movies,and saw you rated fresh for the worst movies of the decade.One thing you can do for us is to quit your profession as a film critic,even you didn’t do so,people have understood your poor caliber of understanding good movies.

  16. You are completely correct. I actually thought this movie was painful to watch. It was, by turns, boring and cringeworthy. I wanted to like it, and was looking forward to seeing it, but it was a real letdown. I'm really surprised that so many others loved it so much – it's such a humorless, trite movie. I'm really easy to please when it comes to movies, but I expect a director to at least give me some reason to care about what happens to the characters. I suspect when today's Avatar fans sit back down to watch it again in five years, they will be embarrassed that they were so smitten with such a plotless and character-free dud of a movie.

  17. Ok, I can't take a critique containing this: " there are no cute or funny moments, no pump fisting moments, nothing. This is one blah movie, which makes for a hard review to write. I didn’t love this movie or hate it. It’’s one big pile of “meh,” and feels like there’s this 3-hour void in my life." remotely seriously. It just seems juvenile.

    Also, I'd just like to point out that you have no understanding of why Avatar is " being hyped as being this new benchmark in 3D technology." It is about the technology used to make the film, not the fact that you can watch it with 3D specs. You should look into that, since it will be used a lot more in the not-too-distant future.

    I found your review on Rotten Tomatoes, but I didn't feel like signing up to comment there. I don't care that you dislike Avatar before you decide I'm attacking you on that basis… I just found your review lacking and uninformed and felt the need to offer some constructive criticism.

Comments are closed.