Saturday, February 20, 2010

Avatar - saved by the World

Lori and I just saw Avatar, despite our five month old's apparent
wishes. Even though I had to watch standing on the ramp out of the
theater trying to get our crying kid to sleep, I enjoyed the whole
thing.

Granted, there was a lot that I expected not to like and didn't.
Worn-out tropes and ham-handed, overplayed stereotypes (The
Tank-Brained Soldier, Soulless Big Business, The Noble Savage, Saving
the Earth-Mother, and so on...) are all there at the forefront of most
of the show. And oh my gosh the terrible lines from the soldiers,
especially Michelle Rodriguez. "You're not the only one with guns,
bitch!". What is that?

And sure, 3D, and awesome models and all that. No one will argue that
it didn't look amazing. It's not enough to carry a movie though, and
doesn't have any stamina the better technology gets.

I think Avatar had something more than that: Pandora. Here's why - I
like world building (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldbuilding). I
like an extremely well crafted world like Pandora with a people like
the Na'vi as much as a good story, and considering the short amount of
time a movie has to tell a story sometimes I prefer the world over the
story.

Of course the Na'vi are there to help someone preach about being in
tune with the environment and all that. But the details that went into
making the Na'vi seem real, *especially* the language
(http://www.learnnavi.org/), were extremely satisfying to me and I
loved exploring the world that we were able to see before the Space
Marines started shooting it up.

I think World Building is an important element to good story telling,
not central perhaps, but often overlooked or poorly done just to get
to the story. I believe a well crafted otherworld holds up a mirror to
our own, and is the part of a story that has the most power to engage
our imagination.

Anyhow, that's why I liked Avatar.

Posted via email from Tony Hillerson's Posterous