Movie Review: You're no Robert Heinlein, James Cameron
by Ben Bartley / COPY EDITOR
Dec 20, 2009 | 12687 views | 56 56 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print

“Avatar” is bad, bad, bad. 100 times 100 bad.

The plot is trite and clichéd. The characters are flat and unoriginal.

And the dialog, especially from that talentless buffoon playing the Jake Sully character, is laughable — as in I, and those around me (who were, admittedly, my friends) were laughing at each and every “serious”moment.

I was actively cheering for the humans — America, white people, the Western world — to commit genocide on the blue people — Native Americans, minorities, those oppressed worldwide.

That’s not to say I am a huge proponent of the American ideology or am proud of the way our ancestors treated Native Americans. Far from it. I simply do not enjoy obvious Hollywood propaganda, specifically created to engender certain opinions and feelings.

I can think for myself, thank you very much.

All I ask, and maybe this is too much, is for some subtlety. Next time reach for the scalpel and leave the big wooden club at home.

To go along with the anti-white, down with American message was one even more obvious: the environmental movement.

Yes, we should be aware of Earth’s limited resources. Yes, we only have one planet. Et cetera.

I, however, do not enjoy being reminded to recycle while watching a movie I paid $13.25 to see. I came to be entertained, not preached at.

You’re no Robert Heinlein, James Cameron.

Also, while I’m thinking about it, those stupid 3-D glasses be damned. “Avatar’s” pitch meeting imagined by me:

“What’s a hot-button issue right now?” asks the fat CEO of [large movie company].

“How about AIDS?”

“White people don’t care about AIDS,” says fat CEO as he dreams about the month he is about to spend in Tijuana with his “personal assistant.”

“Something current and polarizing.”



Jimmy the Intern, who was pouring fat CEO coffee, reaches deep within himself and finds the courage to speak.

“How about the environment?”

Fat CEO chews on the end of the cigar, pretending to look pensive.

“Well, shoot. White people love to talk about the environment. What’s your name boy?”

“Jimmy the Intern.”

“Jimmy the Intern, you’re a goshdarn genius. Someone call James Cameron and find my oversized checkbook.”

And thus, “Avatar” was born.

It’s sad that Hollywood can keep producing these stale, worn, tired, and other adjectives meaning overused stories for the lowest common denominator and we Americans keep paying as if there are no other alternatives. Go read a book. Or, better yet, follow the lead of the blue people and go roll around in a field.

At the end of the screening I watched, about 75 percent of the audience actually clapped. Putting aside the inherent ignorance of praising an inanimate object, it was surreal to hear the predominately white audience applaud a movie which basically characterized their (my) race as being

the devil.

Race is a serious and complex issue. Attempting to strip it down to a caricatured version of simplified good vs. evil does a disservice to the issue and intelligent, thinking people everywhere.

Maybe I’m overreacting. I don’t know.

I do, however, know “Avatar” made me feel dumb and hopeless. This is not what science fiction should be.

Sure, the movie is visually stunning. But where is the story? Or the interesting plot and compelling characters?

Use your $13.25 to buy a good science fiction book or some organic fruit or maybe some environmentally friendly toilet paper.

Negative 1,000 stars.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 10, 2010
For those of you who didn't like the movie, what were you expecting, a rock to fly off the screen and slap you in the face.

The visuals were amazing, the technique used to film the movie was a breakthrough and was something that was never done before.

The story took a timeless classic but added many levels to it.

I found the organic network that the Navi have was an amazing concept. Yeah sure the love story wasn't anything new but really how much can you do with a love story?

I think that people who didn't like this movie are just WAYYYY too picky and are probably the same people who complain about everything in life.

Was it the best movie ever made??? No, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an amazing, innovative stop complaining.
January 15, 2010
Avatar is best
January 12, 2010
I don't agree with this review at all. It is way to kind. It is visually stunning if you consider really fake-looking day-glo animation in even phonier looking 3d to be "stunning". Stunningly sickening I say. This went beyond 'white' bashing. This was human bashing--the guy at the end turns into some kind of freakish looking cross between an anorexic fashion model and a gumby. This movie literally made me want to vomit.
Paul Welch
January 12, 2010
I have written an article just like this one... Couldn't believe when I stumbled across this
January 03, 2010
Matrix 2 Pocahontas = Avatar = another awful hollywood production
January 02, 2010
LOL this guy rocks and i personaly agree with him. go read a book you zombies.
January 02, 2010
Yall posting in a troll thread!
January 01, 2010
Another thing, I will never understand is why caring about environmental issues has become something only bleeding heart hippie dippies should care about. Personally, as a physicist, the reason I became a committed environmentalist is because I am enough of a pragmatist and have a sufficient understanding of all the basic sciences to realize that it is incredibly stupid to waste and destroy our natural resources faster than they can be replenished.

Not to mention the way we are breeding out of control. I think anti-environmental stances are more often the very emotional and senseless ones.

They tend to come from people (in my experience) who really sentimentalize the human animal and don't want to face the reality of our own reliance on finite resources

Probably why scientists, educators, doctors etc. are generally much more on board with environmental issues than the general public.

But it suits certain agendas to pretend that it is only bleeding heart Hollywood types who care about environmental issues.

What a crock....
January 01, 2010
I will agree on the point that the "bad" guys are overly simplified cartoons and the movie's morality is overly black and white. On how we as a species are treating the planet however, to some extent this is a fair even if not balanced view-look at deforestation, overpopulation etc.

(One of the stupidest things to me about Faux News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan has always been that in a non-ideal world, you can never be simultaneously fair and balanced. Balance implies you have to treat two sides equally regardless of whether they are actually equally truthful, factual etc.)

On to your review, you merely betray your own prejudice by assuming that only white people care about environmental issues (or in your own black and white world, I guess pretend to care about environmental issues).

I will agree on one point though-the idea of noble native people who are more in touch with the environment versus evil modern people-that is simplistic. In my own country India, the poor people (mostly due to the fact that they have no other choice but they are doing it nonetheless) are doing as much of a job of destroying the environment as wealthy Americans.

Oh well....once we get rid of all our natural resources, it is going to be interesting to see how we do as a species. I suspect we will be like the parasites that kill their host and then realize..oops..we go with them. We humans have a tendency to sentimentalize ourselves but at the end of the day we are animals like any others and need a living planet to survive. I thought "The Road" did a more subtle way of demonstrating this. But if a big budget, popular and overall well-made and enjoyable movie makes some people think, good for it....
January 01, 2010
Fool I shit gold. For once in my life I just wanted to film it happening.
December 31, 2009
This movie sucks... big time. It is one of the worst movie I've ever seen.

Of course, low-life sci-fi fans will defend this movie, because they dont'know anything about good movies.

You want to see good sci-fi : go see Blade Runner.
December 31, 2009
It wasn't easy finding someone else who disliked the movie as much as I did. I'm sure happy I did, though.
December 29, 2009
"All you trust-fund-baby students need to get your collective heads out of your arses and see beyond what MSNBC tells you. You don't need Hollywood to spend half a billion dollars to tell you what to think. "

stop using MSNBC. it's just pathetic and getting old. please stop. It doesn't make you intelligent and all knowing to lump people into a stereotype.

And since you are so keen on questioning whether people can think for themselves you must believe in free you? shut up and let people make dumbasses out of themselves if they want.

Insulting a teacher? honestly? how do you know anything about why he teaches where he does. oh that's right, you don't. You're just one more e-thug talking shit to people and then demanding they show respect. typical

I dont agree at all with the review so what do I do? nothing, I move on with my life because it just doesnt matter that much. There are more important things in life then hollywood spend fests. WHO CARES!?

grow up
December 29, 2009
Read this poor kid's delusion:

"I showed it to my film professor/buddy the other day and he totally took it and posted it on his facebook and trashed it like crazy. That is how lame you are. He pretty knows everything about film and you know nothing."

If he knows everything about film, why is he a professor in central Alabama and not a multi-millionaire in L.A.?

You should drop out of school immediately and get a job where you interact with actual human beings, not with career students and know-nothing, glorified AV teachers passing themselves off as professors.

I mean c'mon people. He didn't like the movie so you BASH him and the newspaper?

All you trust-fund-baby students need to get your collective heads out of your arses and see beyond what MSNBC tells you. You don't need Hollywood to spend half a billion dollars to tell you what to think.

Do you?
December 28, 2009
Ben stop commenting on your own articles you idiot. We all know you're horrible and can't take it.

Just stop.

Sincerely a concerned plainsman reader

This newspaper sucks anyways. Didn't you all promise daily online. All i see is Ben's useless attempt at writing. This shit is pathetic, and I promise to god I am not the only one who thinks so.

You all need to get your act together. You are getting passed by other colleges. Good luck marketing yourselves with this useless piece of shit paper.

I wonder how many times Ben and his friends posted or viewed this. The fact it has 3000 views is just sheer damn luck. Congrats on 3000 people in the world knowing how sorry and pathetic you are.

And yes I totally expect ben to, once again, try and come back at us on here for telling him the truth. No respect. No discipline. Lindsey Davidson is easily the worst editor this paper has seen. Not only is she useless in the newsroom. I have had class with her and she acts like she is just not even there. Lay off the crack pipe Lindsey

Ok i guess im done. This is just bull shit
December 28, 2009
I agree with almost everything in your review. Please don't be discouraged by all these comments bashing you.
December 27, 2009
This is pretty much the worst review of all time. You are an art-fag, monkey brained tool for writing it. I showed it to my film professor/buddy the other day and he totally took it and posted it on his facebook and trashed it like crazy. That is how lame you are. He pretty knows everything about film and you know nothing. I bet you never even saw the movie and you probably have never even read a book. Do me a favor and learn big words(ones that contain more than five letters). Avatar is the greatest movie of all time, and Beyonce had the greatest music video of all time. Well, I've had enough of bashing you for today. Time to go pick up my 1% fair trade Starbucks cafe latte and pretend to care about social issues with my buddies. (no jokes will be made during my talks with my friends. We do not have a sense of humor. Everything must be taken serious and we all get very defensive. And did I mention that you are a pig head?).
Peterson Hill
December 25, 2009
Have you ever written a review in your life. This is laughable criticism. You don't discuss the film just your general lack of interest that it preaches to you. Yes, the movie makes a bold statement and I am proud that Cameron took a chance to bring interesting debate into a big budget Hollywood film. AVATAR is by no means a great film, but it is a groundbreaking and important film that I was glad to experience with my 3-D glasses. It has been a long time since I have read a criticism so narrow minded and poorly written. You make no valid points in your entire review. You discuss no direction that Cameron contributes. There isn't a discussion of why you think Sam Worthington didn't play Sully well. When, he was actually very effective. You don't discuss the script, the f/x work, but you do discuss you utter disdain for it. Hint for your future as a critic, and God hope there isn't one, watch the movie and discuss it. Don't discuss your feelings. In the end that just makes you seem like you don't know what you are talking about.
December 25, 2009
I enjoyed your review.

I think you're too harsh in your overall conclusions but I understand what leads you to them.

It's a 3D movie but the characters cast as the "Bad guys" are truly 1D. If you identify yourself with these guys - as many decent people may well do in the beginning - you may come away feeling "dumb and hopeless" as you say. In my experience, bad guys are rarely so totally evil and soul-less as these are.

In large part the writing on this film is very poor - no it's NOT shear genius as one of your critics scolded you. But over all this is a very good film worthy of a much better story teller, Tolkien or Melville or Heinlein as you suggest.

It's been compared to "Star Wars" with good reason but while Avatar has superior graphics and special effects owing to improved technology - Star Wars is underpinned by Tolkien and that makes for a more satisfying (and less politically bent) story.

As a final comment, I'd ask you to consider if it's the writers who've made you feel dumb and hopeless or if it's the fact that you buy into the myth of race. There really is no fact of science behind it - it was invented for a social purpose. And while there are lingering negative issues around the concept of race (senselessly perpetuated by Avatar's ham-handed writing and non-existent character development) I think it's also an idea you can reject by simply seeing yourself as a human being.
An AU student
December 24, 2009
Ha, it looks like this review accidentally went viral on a tiny scale and a lot of people don't realize or care that he's a student writing for a student paper.

His other reviews this semester have also been bad, but I doubt he's hoping to be the next Ebert.

I'm curious if the commenters here cruise other college papers and ravage the amateur efforts there as well.