So I saw James Cameron's latest in 3-D, and while it wasn't terrible, it also wasn't the mindblowing cinematic revelation that most critics have agreed it is.
Basically, "Avatar" is just another crappy action flick that takes place in a really impressive, computer-generated universe. I'm exaggerating slightly to make my point, but really, how much worse would the dialogue and plot have to have been for critics to tone down their exaltation?
I'm going to delve into "Avatar" more in a subsequent post, but the critical reaction to this movie is curious, to say the least.
Andrew Leonard of Salon isn't a critic, but his response to the movie is typical. In this post he refers to Cameron's "brilliance" and "transcendant genius."
Also in Salon, Erik Nelson laments: "The smug critical consensus seems to be: If Cameron could have only jettisoned that stupid fantastic story, the amazing fantastic world he created might have really been cool."
I'm not sure what smug critical consensus Nelson is referring to, seeing as "Avatar" has a 94 percent fresh rating among "Top Critics" on Rotten Tomatoes.
As to his general point about science fiction not getting respect, the problem with this story isn't that it's science fiction, which can be handled elegantly. The problem is the clunky exposition and at times hamfisted dialogue. The problem is that the engine of this science fiction film is a generic action plot that we've seen a hundred times before.