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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:42 pm  
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I don't get the whole "dances with wolves" comparison people tend to use as an insult. It's like, okay? Yeah, its a similar story line to dances with wolves, but different enough to be new. How is that a bad thing? Last Samurai was Dances with Wolves in Japan, but haters didn't jump out of the woodwork to bash it with a comparison, as if a comparison in and of itself is the world's greatest insult. Demanding originality is a bit much, just as long as it isn't derivative is all I care about. And after all, Dances with Wolves itself is just Pocahontas, but fictional.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:37 am  
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Selethar wrote:
TD, as far as the colonel is concerned, you know that's what they think of most military officers right? Look at the rest of the marines.


Fixed



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:12 am  
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pasha wrote:
Last Samurai was Dances with Wolves in Japan, but haters didn't jump out of the woodwork to bash it with a comparison, as if a comparison in and of itself is the world's greatest insult.


People were too busy hating on the historical inaccuracies of the film. :P



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:46 am  
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pasha wrote:
Demanding originality is a bit much, just as long as it isn't derivative is all I care about. And after all, Dances with Wolves itself is just Pocahontas, but fictional.


?

John Smith never "went native" and never really worked actively against the interests of the colony. He was part of the leadership for the colony from the moment they opened the sealed orders that were to be opened upon arrival... To the point of being the Governor for several years, and later fighting a war against the same tribe Pocahontas is from.

Though historically, there are people who did "go native" to varying degrees. The Mountain Men of the (earlyish) 19th century and before being the more typical examples of this.


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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:58 am  
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Warning, response contains spoilers, so if you somehow haven't seen Avatar yet(2 weeks later), and don't want it spoiled, you may not want to read the non-quote text in this post.

pasha wrote:
I don't get the whole "dances with wolves" comparison people tend to use as an insult. It's like, okay? Yeah, its a similar story line to dances with wolves, but different enough to be new. How is that a bad thing?


It isn't a bad thing persay, it just means the movie is not as amazing or groundbreaking(for story telling, not visual effects) as some people want to make it out to be.

TheDeamon wrote:
Yeah, but Dances With Wolves is one that I think only really works well within the context that it was done... Because it was done very well.

SciFi/Fantasy tends to have the strength of taking issues/concepts that can't typically be addressed within the context of "normal" storytelling by using fantastical story devices as allegory to get around most of that "awkward stuff" which would otherwise get in the way.

Problem being with this particular storyline is it has already been done using the normal storytelling methodology, and done very well. It isn't ground breaking, it isn't unique... It's a "distant future" retread of a pre-existing story. It can still be good, but it'll be stuck in the shadow of what it is retreading.


Starting the comparisons and differences. (Keeping in mind it's been a few years since I last watched Dances with Wolves, and I think I've seen it all of 4 times)

1. Dances with Wolves starts off with a Calvary Officer who does something batfucking crazy on the Battlefield, and (deus ex-machina) lives to tell of it. Gets reassigned, away from the fighting, as a result. In Avatar, we have an Ex-Marine who has no use of his lower body due to a spinal cord injury sustained in combat, he gets pulled into the story thanks to the deus ex-machina of his brother getting killed a very short time before he was supposed to leave for Pandora, and due to the nature of the Avatar that had been created for his brother, the Ex-Marine is the only person who can use it.

2. In Dances with Wolves, the Calvary Officer get assigned to a remote outpost and suffers two (deus ex-machina) events unknown to him. First, the person who assigns him to that post kills himself before properly documenting where he had been sent. The second event is the person who took him out there gets killed before he returns to society. In Avatar they accomplish a comparable thing by getting his Avatar separated from his outing group by means of a big nasty animal chasing him until he jumps off of a cliff, and his outing group being unable to find him by nightfall at which point they have to return to base.

3. In Dances with Wolves, the Indians eventually pay him a series of visits and they eventually begin a trading relationship that progresses into him actively working with them as his supplies run out(nobody in the Calvary knows where he is to get supplies to him, as the only people who knew are dead). In Avatar, it takes the form of a Pandoran "native" watching him make his way through the wilderness after having been given a (deus ex-machina) "sign" to not kill him on sight, culminating in his being rescued from his own stupidity, another "sign", and a trip to go meet with the rest of the tribe.

4. In Dances with Wolves, there is much time/effort spent on both sides learning to communicate with each other and in particular for the Main Character(the Calvary Officer) learning the ways of the Indians as a matter of due course. In Avatar, it is one of the objectives of their having Avatars out there in the first place, and the Main Character is woefully unprepared for what he just stepped into... But he has lots of help from the Pandorans(who understand English reasonably well), and the rest of the staff who have Avatars as well, as they're also reasonably fluent in Pandoran. So while Dances with Wolves takes a year plus to play out, Avatar takes about 3 months.

5. In Dances with Wolves, there is attention paid to how the Indians lived in harmony with their environment only killed animals when necessary, and took everything they could from anything they killed. The counterpoint to the Indian way of doing things was their coming across a field strewn with the corpses of hundreds of killed Buffalo from the herd they were following. The only thing taken by the white man from the dead buffalo being their skins. In Avatar (see my earlier quote about Fantasy/SciFi allowing for things to be abstracted) you get the Main Character chastised for creating a situation where animals had to be killed in order to save his life(his first meeting with the natives), and much commentary about how the humans don't pay any attention to the things they're doing, or what they're destroying, ultimately culminating in "they killed nature on their world." They further reinforce the "everything is connected here" motif for Pandora by the Pandorans being able to physically link with many of the animals and even some of the plants on their world.

6. In Dances with Wolves, the Main Character takes an Indian Bride. In Avatar, the Main Character takes a Pandoran Bride. They both happen to be daughters of the leader of their respective tribes.

7. In Dances with Wolves, the Calvary does eventually figure out where he is supposed to be. But the (deus ex-machina) person who happens to find his journal is illiterate and doesn't see fit to give it to someone who can read it. He ultimately destroys the journal and the Superiors of the Main Character consider him to be a deserter/traitor and treat him as such when they encounter him. In Avatar, the Military Authority is effectively one dimensional, and seems to be bent on bringing as much pain upon the Pandorans as he possibly can, any excuse will do. While he does have access to the journal of the Main Character, it is processed in a one dimensional manner, only to obtain information to justify bringing pain upon the Pandorans, and to summarily discard anything else which will hamper that objective.

8. In Dances with Wolves, the Main Character ultimately renounces his ties with his old life in favor of a new one with the Indians. In Avatar, the Main Character ultimately renounces his ties with his old life, in favor of a new one with the Pandorans.

9. In Dances with Wolves, the Main Character does help the Indians fight the US Calvary, to achieve some limited ends(he knows, as do they, that they ultimately cannot win their fight they can only delay the arrival of defeat). In Avatar, the Main Character helps the Pandorans fight back against the One Dimensional Military leader resulting in a resounding, albeit costly, victory for the Pandorans(by means of a deus ex-machina device).

Of course, wikipedia says that there are 2 sequels in planning that will be made if the first one is successful... which it looks like it was, so we'll see if their victory was momentary or not with regards to the Dances with Wolves comparison. I'm guessing it'll be treated as an act of war on the part of Earth... otherwise the sequels would be kind of boring.


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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:07 am  
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Kat ... sometimes you just have to enjoy the story, not hyper-analyze it to dust.

Also, I worry about sequels. I think they will lose the balance they had that made this show good.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:20 pm  
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Selethar wrote:
Kat ... sometimes you just have to enjoy the story, not hyper-analyze it to dust.

Also, I worry about sequels. I think they will lose the balance they had that made this show good.


I did enjoy it, and intend to pick it up on either DVD or BlueRay once it hits that release point.

You need to realize that for me analysis and (basic) deconstruction of things is not an active, conscious decision making process. It's an integral part of the my natural intuition process. I don't really have to undertake any real mental effort for it to happen. There is no "how" on much of that initial level of analysis so far as I've been able to tell, it simply happens. Which makes me mildly paranoid when I do start to consciously analyze things as I then tend to backtrack and try to figure out the hows and whys of what just came to mind, but I've found it to only rarely be flat out wrong.. If there have been errors(and many there have been), it tends to be from missing or incomplete information. (and people wonder why I tend to information gather, and then begin citing it when a major decision/change is being discussed)


It also doesn't help that I do have some interest in writing in general(remember that the original part of CWAL was a Writers Group when it was created and that I am part of it still). So I have a tendency to have "the back burner" keeping an ongoing watch for plot/character developments in anything I read or watch. In this particular case I also went into the theater with the expectation of Dances with Wolves in Space, so I had a short mental checklist of things from Dances with Wolves which I was on the lookout for them doing with Avatar...

Which is how you wound up with that massive post. Not much effort on my part while watching the movie, just an occasional "Oh, hey, that comes pretty close to _____" and bothering to remember details about those events in the movie. Took me all of 1 second per incident, really stressful for me to do while enjoying the movie. =P


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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:26 pm  
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Colbin wrote:
pasha wrote:
Last Samurai was Dances with Wolves in Japan, but haters didn't jump out of the woodwork to bash it with a comparison, as if a comparison in and of itself is the world's greatest insult.


People were too busy hating on the historical inaccuracies of the film. :P


I have never heard anyone complain about that. And for those who do... Who cares? Inglorious Basterds wasn't historically accurate either. It's a MOVIE. A FICTION. Bitching about historical accuracy in a fiction, which can very easily be an alternate history movie--meaning assuming its an accurate history is a fallacy... it's like the annoying people who complain about the tiniest of gripes "oh, hermione's hair is supposed to be all poofy and a mess, she isnt supposed to be pretty either," or "Wolverine is supposed to be under 5' tall, I can't like Hugh Jackman because he's over 6' ", and use that as a reason to hate the whole. Plain and simple, someone who hates a movie because of a nitpick was either poised to hate the movie to begin with, and is just looking for excuses, or is a bitter contrarian jerk.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:28 pm  
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pasha wrote:
Colbin wrote:
pasha wrote:
Last Samurai was Dances with Wolves in Japan, but haters didn't jump out of the woodwork to bash it with a comparison, as if a comparison in and of itself is the world's greatest insult.


People were too busy hating on the historical inaccuracies of the film. :P


I have never heard anyone complain about that. And for those who do... Who cares? Inglorious Basterds wasn't historically accurate either. It's a MOVIE. A FICTION. Bitching about historical accuracy in a fiction, which can very easily be an alternate history movie--meaning assuming its an accurate history is a fallacy... it's like the annoying people who complain about the tiniest of gripes "oh, hermione's hair is supposed to be all poofy and a mess, she isnt supposed to be pretty either," or "Wolverine is supposed to be under 5' tall, I can't like Hugh Jackman because he's over 6' ", and use that as a reason to hate the whole. Plain and simple, someone who hates a movie because of a nitpick was either poised to hate the movie to begin with, and is just looking for excuses, or is a bitter contrarian jerk.


I think he threw that last part in there for Cynth



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:33 pm  
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Bontron wrote:
pasha wrote:
... or is a bitter contrarian jerk.


I think he threw that last part in there for Cynth


...and TD.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:08 pm  
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pasha wrote:
Colbin wrote:
pasha wrote:
Last Samurai was Dances with Wolves in Japan, but haters didn't jump out of the woodwork to bash it with a comparison, as if a comparison in and of itself is the world's greatest insult.


People were too busy hating on the historical inaccuracies of the film. :P


I have never heard anyone complain about that. And for those who do... Who cares? Inglorious Basterds wasn't historically accurate either. It's a MOVIE. A FICTION. Bitching about historical accuracy in a fiction, which can very easily be an alternate history movie--meaning assuming its an accurate history is a fallacy... it's like the annoying people who complain about the tiniest of gripes "oh, hermione's hair is supposed to be all poofy and a mess, she isnt supposed to be pretty either," or "Wolverine is supposed to be under 5' tall, I can't like Hugh Jackman because he's over 6' ", and use that as a reason to hate the whole. Plain and simple, someone who hates a movie because of a nitpick was either poised to hate the movie to begin with, and is just looking for excuses, or is a bitter contrarian jerk.


*shrugs* After taking a class about Japenese Civilization, it's hard to ignore a lot of the stuff they got wrong about everyday life as a samurai and some of the etiquette in Japan at the time. I still like the movie, but there's nothing wrong with disliking the way some of it was done. And the haters were out there. The History Channel had a special on the true story of the last samurai. There's been papers written on the problems in it. The stuff might not be mainstream, but it is out there and easy to find. :p

I'm also not seeing anyone who actually hated the movie in this thread. Most of the arguments seem to be "Well this was similiar to that movie, but either way, I loved watching Avatar"



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:20 pm  
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Colbin wrote:
I'm also not seeing anyone who actually hated the movie in this thread. Most of the arguments seem to be "Well this was similiar to that movie, but either way, I loved watching Avatar"


Aside from messing with TD and Cynth, no, the vocal minority is more of an ambiguous nemesis who doesn't exist here. Mostly movie forum trolls and idiot reviewers who only like movies about gay cowboys eating pudding.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:52 pm  
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Avatar was a good watch. It felt like it dragged a few times. It is no fault of James Cameron's but you could guess the outcome of the movie fairly quickly almost 20 minutes into the movie. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed even the parts which dragged.

If I had to pick one con from the experience, it would be the clothing the scientist avatars were wearing.. Its not like they were portraying 1990s college kids.

If I had to pic one pro, it'd definitely be the level of immersion. I think James Cameron learned huge lessons from George Lucas' failures in the prequels of Star Wars.

I'd give the movie a very strong 8.5 out of 10.

* PS: Normally when a movie is produced in 3D, the director goes way over the top and makes the dumbest things pop out at you. Avatar's 3D integration is very tasteful and added to the experience.



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 5:58 pm  
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The most important question to emerge from this movie: do Na'vi have areolae?



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 Post subject: Re: Avatar - the movie
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:21 am  
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pasha wrote:
The most important question to emerge from this movie: do Na'vi have areolae?


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Looks like they do.



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