Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Trouble With Avatar (Part Two)

When I write about Hollywood not getting science fiction right, I should point out that I am mainly referring to the movies, which by necessity have to compress portraits of complex futures / societies into roughly two hour movies, though Avatar was longer than that. By comparison, successful SF series, i.e.: Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Star Trek, etc., have the scope to delve into depictions of the future in more depth. That doesn’t mean that movies can’t do so, as well, but generally the people behind most SF films today aren’t making that attempt to deliver complexity and depth to the scenarios they offer us on screen.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Trouble With Avatar (Part One)

Can Hollywood ever get science fiction right? I ask this because I am baffled by the praise emanating from most critics towards James Cameron’s wretched 3D extravaganza Avatar. The story in this lengthy (2 hours, 40 minutes long) science fiction tale is simplicity (or simple mindedness) itself.

A cabal of scientists, mercenaries and corporate types are occupying the planet of Pandora and planning to get their hands on a precious mineral that they say Earth needs desperately. Our hero, Jake (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic Marine, is chosen to link up with one of the humanoid species, the Na’vi, who live on the planet, in order to get into its brain and attempt to communicate mankind’s 'peaceful' wishes to get the mineral even though it is found beneath the Na’vi’s holiest site. Needless to say, the Na’vi neither wants to move off the land nor allow the humans to drill for the mineral. But Jake, who can inhabit the virtual body of a Na’vi, and thus walk and run, begins to sympathize with the gentle humanoid species and slowly starts to turn against his military masters.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In the Beginning...

In the fall of 2009, Kevin Courrier, Shlomo Schwartzberg and David Churchill met to discuss the possibility of setting up a website for film and popular culture critics who had once worked professionally in the media, but were now making their living doing other work. By the way, they didn’t eagerly choose to leave the profession. In the case of Kevin and Shlomo, a combination of unethical practices by their recent publications and the desire in their editors (or producers) for more “consumer-friendly” movie reviewers, left them seeking other alternative routes. David Churchill, on the other hand, saw the writing on the wall years earlier and - unhappy at what he saw coming – abandoned the profession in 1989.