20 Reasons Not to See Avatar

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 6:09 pm
By Shane Rivers

If these 20 reasons not to see Avatar can’t convince you to stay away from your local multiplex, then nothing can. Sure, Avatar has been hyped to death by the studio’s publicity juggernaut, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall for it like a good little cow. It’s a perfect time to raise your voice in favor of quality filmmaking, especially if you paid money for a piece of drek like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Think of this as your way to atone to the gods of cinema.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Avatar is the latest big-budget monstrosity from director James Cameron, the same man responsible for the cancerous Titanic. The film follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paralyzed Marine, as he travels to the distant alien world of Pandora and interacts with the local population (known as the Na’vi) via a specially-grown body that houses Jake’s mind. He soon encounters a Na’vi female known as Neytiri, has doubts about his mission, and eventually rallies the indigenous residents to fight off the human incursion.

But I bet you already knew all that, which is why this list of 20 reasons not to see Avatar is all the more important. So read on, throw off the chains fashioned by James Cameron, and open yourself to a bright tomorrow filled with quality films. The future of cinema is in your hands.

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1. Laughable Dialogue – While this isn’t always a killer, you’d still think that a film in production for four years could come up with better lines than the following:

“We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re on Pandora.”
“Everything is backwards, now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream.”
“Every living thing wants to kill you and eat your eyes for Jujubes.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Just take a look at some of the Shakespeare-like dialogue from Cameron’s previous film, Titanic:

“I’d rather be his whore than your wife.”

“They’ve got you trapped, Rose. And you’re gonna die if you don’t break free. Maybe not right away because you’re strong but… sooner or later that fire that I love about you, Rose… that fire’s gonna burn out.”

“A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.”

2. Jake Sully’s Hair – Early in the film, before he heads off to begin his adventure on Pandora, Jake Sully sports a haircut that makes him look a lot like Billy Ray Cyrus. I don’t know about you, but I got my fill of Billy Ray back in the early ‘90s, when “Achy Breaky Heart” was saturating the airwaves and Miley’s dad was refusing to shave daily. If Avatar somehow fails at the box office, I suppose Sam Worthington can always grow his hair back out and get a role as a pool cleaner in the next David Lynch film.

3. Michelle Rodriguez Plays Tough – According to the promotional material, real-life bad girl Michelle Rodriguez plays Trudy Chacon, a retired Marine pilot who escorts the hero to the surface of Pandora. From watching the Avatar trailer, it appears she later teams up with Jake and fights on behalf of the natives of Pandora. So, once again, she’s playing a character who has issues with authority. I’m actually a big fan of Rodriguez, but do they have to cast her as a tough Latina in every single film she appears in (Bloodrayne not withstanding)? I’d love to see her stretch her acting range by playing someone like a Norwegian doctor or African-American lawyer (as long as she gets to scowl and later flash that whiter-than-white smile).


4. The Na’vi Look Dumb – Numerous Internet writers have compared the film’s nature-dwelling aliens to that of Jar Jar Binks, at least in terms of quality. I don’t know if I would go that far, but there’s little doubt that these incredibly tall cat people aren’t exactly cool. In fact, they look kind of stupid – stupid enough that I’d probably be pulling for the humans to wipe them from the face of Pandora. The Na’vi should’ve looked more intimidating (the long-ass noses ain’t working), but I suppose that might’ve scared a few kids and kept toy sales from completely draining the bank accounts of suburban America.

5. The Sam Worthington Hype Machine – I’m already tired of Sam Worthington, and he’s only done one major film. That, of course, was the mind-numbingly awful Terminator Salvation. I can’t blame him for that piece of crap, but I can blame him for being so ever-present that it borders on stalking. Enough already!

6. Massive Length – The term “massive length” is great to use when describing your penis, but not so much when talking about a film of questionable quality. Avatar clocks in at 2 hours and 42 minutes, which will seem like an eternity for anyone who isn’t immediately captivated by the film. But at least it’s an improvement over the 3 hour and 14 minute run time of Titanic, a movie that had me contemplating suicide by the midway point.

7. James Cameron is a Horse’s Ass – While he may have the Midas touch at the box office, Avatar director James Cameron is known as a flaming ass within the industry. Kate Winslet admitted that it would take a lot of money for her to work with the temperamental Cameron again, and author Orson Scott Card noted Cameron’s “unkindness” and how he “made everyone around him miserable.” And all so he can turn out such “art” as True Lies and Titanic. Why in the world would you want to support a guy like that?

8. Pretentious Moment #1 – According to Cameron, “I think it’s tricky to pigeonhole Avatar as science-fiction. It’s really an action/adventure/fantasy.” Yeah, and Jaws should’ve been labeled a comedy because it had a few laughs. The last time I checked, movies that involve other planets, aliens, and ultra high-tech weaponry fall into the science-fiction category. That quote just shows how far Cameron is willing to go to pimp his movie to as many people as possible. I’m surprised he didn’t say, “It’s really an action/adventure//romance/teen/comedy/buddy cop/torture porn/fantasy.” Now that would really pack ‘em into the theaters.

9. Sigourney Weaver is Officially Old – I don’t like to be reminded that I’m getting older. After seeing a few lines in the face of Avatar co-star Sigourney Weaver, I checked on the Internet and found that she’s 60 freakin’ years old. Granted, she looks great for her age, but it’s sad that the woman who kicked ass as Ellen Ripley can now easily be accepted for membership into the AARP. She’s also playing a botanist of all things, a far cry from the days when she redefined the female role in action/sci-fi movies. I know we all get old, but I prefer to live inside my little fantasy world where Sharon Stone is perpetually 32 years old and oh-so-hot. Damn you, James Cameron!

10. Pretentious Moment #2 – Never one to remain silent, James Cameron described the world of Pandora as “kind of the Garden of Eden with teeth and claws.” Since Cameron was the one who created Pandora, does that mean he’s the God for a new generation? I can almost imagine Cameron, alone in his studio late at night, reducing virtual Pandoran cities to salt and initiating massive floods. Methinks James Cameron has too much power for his own good; don’t give him any more by going to see Avatar. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for those poor residents of Pandora.

11. An Orgy of Special EffectsAvatar seeks to distract you from the simplistic plotline and ridiculous characterization by overwhelming your senses with wave after wave of special effects magic. By the time the thousandth explosion has occurred, you’ll be nothing more than a brainless puddle of ooze in the theatre seat. This was the same strategy employed by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and you see how well it worked out for them. Don’t fall for it this time around.


12. Alien Boobs – During a Playboy interview, Cameron was able to provide us with yet another reason not to see Avatar. “She’s got to have tits,” he said of the lead Na’vi female, Neytiri. He then proceeds to talk at length about placental mammals and Mayan loincloths, leading me to believe that he may have snapped under all the pressure which comes with being “king of the world.” While I’m normally a fan of busty animated women, Neytiri isn’t exactly stacked upstairs, thus robbing many male fans of an opportunity for quality masturbation time. If you’re gonna give her breasts, why not go all the way?

13. Like the Klingon Language Wasn’t Bad Enough – J.R.R. Tolkien, an English author and university professor, created a new language for use in his books about Middle-earth. While that move reeked of pretension, it was nothing compared to the news that James Cameron had went out and hired a USC linguistics professor to create an “entire functioning language” for the Na’vi. That means if Avatar is a hit, we can look forward to a bunch of overweight fanboys painting themselves blue and talking in some silly language at sci-fi conventions around the world.

14. The Voices of the Oppressed – Just in case audiences didn’t get the reference discussed above, Cameron went out and cast talented Native American actor Wes Studi as the noble Na’vi king. His queen is voiced by CCH Pounder, herself a member of a once-exploited ethnic group. Instead of Avatar, why didn’t Cameron just cut to the chase and name his film White People Suck? My self-esteem is low enough without having to sit through this three-hour guilt trip.

15. PG-13 is for Pussies – It’s nice to know that the desperate struggle for the future of an entire world can be neatly packaged into a family-friendly PG-13 flick. Would World War II have received a similar rating? How about the atrocities committed when the Indians were being driven from their lands? Cameron may pretend that he wants to get an important message across, but he’s happy to whitewash the entire subject for the sake of packing more kids into the theatre. That’s a shame, as Terminator 2 (rated R) didn’t have any trouble making money. Of course, T2 cost $102 million to make, while Avatar reached a bloated $237 million (plus an additional $125 million for marketing). With those kind of costs, Avatar needs to pack a lot of butts into the seats to turn a profit, and that pandering PG-13 rating is the perfect way to do it.

16. Super-duper Magical Blue Man – In many Hollywood films, the “super-duper magical negro” shows up to help the white man save the day by recognizing and overcoming his faults (The Legend of Bagger Vance, for example). The term was popularized by Spike Lee, the self-appointed hall monitor of racism in the entertainment industry. Ironically, for all Avatar’s metaphors and parallels, the ultimate savior of the noble savage Na’vi turns out to be a white man disguised as one of their one (after he falls for the first blue-skinned female he comes across – voiced by Zoe Saldana, Hollywood’s new “safe” black woman). While rallying the locals for battle, he even has the gall to cry out, “They’ve sent us a message…that they can take whatever they want. Well, we will send them a message. That this…this is our land!” Thankfully, Ted Danson never got this out of control.

17. Giovanni Ribisi: Professional Liar – I’ve got nothing against actor Giovanni Ribisi, but, like all performers, he makes his living pretending to be something he’s not. In an interview about Avatar, he gave the performance of a lifetime when he stated, “The story is so original.” Yeah, the idea of a man traveling among a different race or ethnic group and gaining an appreciation for their customs and traditions has never been done before (Dances with Wolves, The New World, The Last Samurai, etc.). Which brings me to the next of many reasons not to see Avatar

18. Call Me Joe – In 1957, Poul Anderson wrote Call Me Joe, a story about a man confined to a wheelchair who is able to transfer his mind into an alien body and exist unassisted on the surface of a distant planet (Jupiter, in this case). As time passes, he comes to identify more and more with this new body and the freedom it gives him. Sound familiar? In fact, there have been numerous calls for Anderson to receive some form of credit for Avatar, but it’ll be a cold day in hell when that happens. Nobody, and I mean nobody, questions the creative genius of little Jimmy Cameron and his really big temper (is it just me, or would those last eight words make a great title for a children’s story).


19. Clumsy Social Message – Technologically advanced white guys show up and begin “relocating” the locals in order to exploit the natural resources of the land. Sound familiar? In order to drive home the whole white man/Native American parallel, maybe the forces of Earth will also hand out blankets tainted with smallpox. If you’re looking for reasons not to see Avatar, this clumsy attempt at being socially relevant is more than sufficient. Here’s hoping the film’s epilogue will show the surface of Pandora littered with a series of profitable-yet-garish casinos.

20. It’ll Make You Puke – Did you get a little queasy while watching Cloverfield? Well, that’s nothing compared to what the 3D effects of Avatar will do to you, and your stomach will get a gold medal for gymnastics by the time it’s over.  For some reason, the thought of nauseous soccer moms barfing on their children fills me with an indescribable joy. To quote one moviegoer, “I definitely would not eat before seeing this film.”

So there you have it: 20 reasons not to see Avatar. If you ignore my warnings and go anyway, then you’ve only got yourself to blame. But even if you do decide to rush out and see it, be sure to read the following articles from Only Good Movies beforehand: